Sunday Walk in Heiligenstedten

I have been numerous times to Heiligenstedten,  a small community near the town of Itzehoe, heading straigth to the big  do-it-yourself-store to buy things for the house and garden.

A few days ago, when wondering where to take the dog (and myself) on a walk, I remembered a motorbike trip we took some years ago starting in Heiligenstedten and leading along the Stör. So I decided to start my walk there,  took the car, drove about 15 kilometers  and discovered places, that  once more made me realise how ignorant I have been about the area I am living in.

I parked the car at the  St.-Marien-Kirche zu Heiligenstedten and was surprised to learn from a sign at the churchyard that as early as the  9th century a church had been standing there. The church you see on the picture below  was built at the end of the 13th century and rebuilt in 1580.

St. Marien-Kirche in Heiligenstedten
St. Marien-Kirche in Heiligenstedten
The bell-tower of St. Marien-Kirche
The bell-tower of St. Marien-Kirche
The door handle of St. Marien-Kirche
The door handle of St. Marien-Kirche

It was closed that day, but that only gives me a good reason to take another trip there to get to know the inside of the church.

I continued my walk crossing the Stör at the old bascule bridge. Well, it isn’t that old, the modern version  was built  in 1967,  until then there was a wooden bascule bridge dating from 1777.

The bascule bridge across the Stör at Heiligenstedten
The bascule bridge across the Stör at Heiligenstedten

After crossing the bridge, there is a small cobble stone street on the left,  named  “Schlossstraße”.  I remembered that somewhere I had heard about a “Schloss Heiligenstedten”. I  decided to follow that street and was surprised to come out at a lovely old manor-house, Schloss Heiligenstedten.

Schloss Heiligenstedten
Schloss Heiligenstedten

At home I searched internet about the history of the castle and what I found is not much. However, its latest history seems somehow sad.

Since 1691 the land and the manor-house belonged to the Blome family, one of Schleswig-Holstein’s  25 or 30 families of ancient nobility. It was rebuilt in 1756 after a flood destroyed the old Renaissance building. Between 1851 and 1853 the facade of the Late Baroque  mansion a new  neo-Gothic look.

I couldn’t find out why the family sold the estate to the state of Schleswig-Holstein in 1926, but the last male descendent, Earl Hans Graf Blome, died in Rumania in 1945. The estate was turned into a Borstal. In 1939 it was briefly used as a hospital, but after a short while turned back into a house of correction until the end of the war. Until 1958 it served as shelter for  German refugees and expellees from Middle and Eastern Europe. A phase as being used as a old-people’s-home ended in 1987.

The outbuildings housed a hote and restaurant
The outbuildings housed a hote and restaurant

A private investor bought the estate, according to Wikipedia paying a symbolic amount of 10.000 DM (about 5000 Euro) to the state of Schleswig-Holstein in 1988. It changed ownership soon afterwards and another entrepreneur  invested  about 20.000 000 DM turning the outer buildings  into a hotel and restaurant and adding a big riding hall with boxes for about 50 horses.  At the same time a new and very luxurious housing project should be developed around the castle, including a mall with exclusive stores. Unfortunately,  it didn’t work out. Five years later, in 1998  a beautifully restored estate,  an unfinished housing project and enormous debts remained.

I found an announcement by a real estate company in internet asking for 3. 300 000 million Euros for the estate, but I don’t know whether that is up to date. The castle is closed to the public and decay has settled in. A symbol for an area in Schleswig – Holstein that has lost many of its economic foundations during the last years?

Not open to the public anymore
Locked and forgotten?
Decay
Decay