Hafslund Hovedgård chosen as millennium celebration site
Leslee Lane Hoyum
Hafslund Hovedgård, one of Sarpsborg’s grand manor homes, will serve as the central location for the city’s millennium celebration, July 29-31, 2016. On the east side of the Sarpsborg waterfall and just a few meters from the main road between Oslo and the foreign lands beyond lies Hafslund Hovedgård. A beautiful park surrounds the grounds, and the main road, lined with linden trees, leads to the stately main house. Built in 1761, it stands tall and proud with full view of the property. The hum of the Sarpsborg waterfall provides a joyful daily song and a peaceful nightly lullaby.
Hafslund is one of several manor homes, or herregårder, built within today’s municipality of Sarpsborg. Manor homes were stately country homes in which noblemen lived and oversaw the business of the farm. Those noblemen received privileges from the crown afforded only to them, such as exemption from the taxes and fees imposed on others. In exchange, the noblemen housed and entertained prominent people and other nobility free of charge. The homes often reflected position: the higher one’s status, the grander the home.
Hafslund’s proximity to Norway’s largest waterfall, Sarpsfossen, prime agricultural land, forests, and bountiful fishing and hunting made it an ideal place for settlement. Hafslund cut lumber from its own forest that was carved and shipped by its own people, all working for the benefit of Hafslund. The same self-sufficiency held true for all industry on the farm.
Hafslund Hovedgård was internationally renowned, since it was located along the king’s route to Christiania, now known as Oslo. Although history shows that people lived at Hafslund for more than 5,000 years and it boasts petroglyphs that are 3,000 years old, more modern history is often the focus. From the second half of the 16th century, the Hafslund farm was self-supporting through the sale of goods and services. In fact, from the middle of the 17th century, Hafslund literally was an independent society with its own school and welfare systems. Owners of Hafslund include some of the most famous names in Norwegian history, including Gyldenhorn, Huitfeld, Werenskiold, Elieson, Juel, Rosenkrantz, Wegner, and Wedel.
Through centuries of owners and sellers, personal bankruptcies, deaths, intermarriages, wars, mergers, inheritances, and attempts at foreign takeover, Hafslund Hovedgård’s stately residence and gardens still stand. When in the late 19th century it appeared that an English corporation was negotiating to buy all of Hafslund’s interests, protests resounded and were heard loud and clear. The government interceded and stopped the sale; a newly established special interest group known as Hafslund bought the property. Shortly thereafter the Hafslund Industry Board began a new chapter in Hafslund history: Water power would play a crucial role in Sarpsborg’s growth and industry.
Sarpsborg takes great pride in this crowning jewel, which today is a protected heritage site. Guided tours are available during the summer months. Join the millennium celebration and check it out firsthand. For further information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Note: Historical information was gleaned from Hafslund Hovedgård by Sven G. Eliassen.)
This article is part of Bestefars hjørne, a feature column by Leslee Lane Hoyum.
This article originally appeared in the Jan. 23, 2014, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.