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ALBU MANOR HOUSE

The first records of Albu manor (Alp) date back to the year of 1282, making it into the oldest order manor in Järvamaa and one of the oldest in Estonia. The main building of the manor as an architectural memorial is under national protection. Albu was one of the largest manors in Järvamaa both for population and arable land. The manor ensemble is not very rich in preserved buildings (storehouse, arch bridge, park). With its formerly much richer ensemble, Albu Manor with its villages belonged to the original domains of the Livonian Order.

Restoration of the building, which started in 1995, revealed a lot of things which the history of the manor had kept in secret. While the manor house had formerly had modest exterior and interior, in the course of restoration it was changed into a lustrous pearl of manor architecture. (Photo)

 

When the closed basement was opened and floors taken apart, it became clear that a building had been standing at the same place already in the 14th century: the north-west annexe hid parts of a limestone and field stone building. Probably, a knight's secured dwelling house or a small stronghold was located there, as the construction earthwork is on a man-made hill and partially surrounded with a river. (Ph) The basement was full of construction debris, revealing two layers of burnt rubbish. Conclusively, the manor house had been on fire twice. Constructional-archaeological research also revealed the bottom of a stove, originating from the 16th century: dark green glazed tiles with flower ornaments in relief. This fact refers to the existence of a so-called second manor house. A fragment of the mediaeval wall is now exposed in the base of the building. (Ph)

 

The oldest written records of the manor buildings date back to 1742. The present and third manor house is a baroque style one-storied building with a high base, two backward annexes and a jointed hip roof. The central axis of the principal facade is emphasised by a projecting attachment with a triangular frontoon. The manor house in its present shape is thought to have been existing already at the beginning of the 18th century or even at the end of the 17th century. From the history of Albu Manor we know that Adam Johann Schrapffer took a loan of 1500 rix-dollars in 1652 in order to build a new mansion.

 

In 1988, a wooden veranda was attached to the building, which was then highly fashionable in manor architecture. The decor is simple and laconic. (Ph)

The rooms are located both enfilade (in a row) and in corridor. (Ph) Inside the building there is a mantle chimney, to which, in the course of restoration, the architect has given a new function in the form of winding stairs. (Ph)

 

In the interior a baroque stove of white and blue tiles and classicist stoves of white tiles have survived. (Ph) In the basement there are rooms with a barrel vault and cross vaults, supported by foursquare piers.

Before the 1750s, manor houses were relatively plain. Imposing buildings were exceptional, as the Great Northern War (1700-1721) had destroyed them to a large extent. We can only assume that in Albu just a part of the building (the north-west wing) was destroyed in the Great Northern War. Most of the reconstruction work in the present manor house took place at the beginning of the 18th century and in the first half of the 19th century. To some extent each manor house resembles its owner. Probably that was also the case in Albu. Albu Manor has had many owners, some of them being, to believe folk stories, rather distinguished.

 

In the summer of 1998 plaster from the walls of the vestibule and a painted canvas (ceiling plafond) from under plaster in the ceiling were being removed. In the course of the restoration work a large baroque style monumental painting (on the walls 35 m2 and in the ceiling 38 m2 , painted on wood, was discovered, which is the best retained spatial integral composition.

The walls and ceilings of the vestibule have been painted only once. It was possibly done already at the end of the 17th century, as according to constructional archaeology the vestibule was not touched by fire. On the walls the basis of the painting is squared and unprimed wooden beams. (Ph) The wider chinks between the beams had been glued up with paper strips before painting. The painting has later been partially damaged by widening of doorways and by some rotten beams, which were later replaced. The situation of the ceiling painting was relatively good. Evidently the canvas protected the painting from effects of plaster.

 

In 1742 the manor went over to the von Douglases. Placement of the ceiling plafond on the painting, as well as plastering of walls, for which holes for plasterboard nails were drilled in the painting, might have happened at the time of Gustav Otto von Douglas. The ceiling plafond in the vestibule is white with grey-shaded ornaments. Now the plafond is being preserved in the ceiling of another room.

As original material about both the painting and the woodwork has been preserved to such an extent that the aim of restoration was to reproduce the whole interior, partially preserving the plasterboard nails. When being restored, the wall and ceiling painting leave an enchantingly naive and serene impression.

 

In addition to the paintings in the vestibule another ceiling plafond was discovered, the baroque style painting of which has high artistic value and is harmonic with the general style of the building, accomplishing the collection of valuable works of art of the manor. (Ph)

At the restoration of the manor house all the unique details of the building have been preserved or used as interior decoration details in consideration with the present day requirements.

 

Manor architecture is treasure which for long has imperceptibly affected our ancestors' sense of beauty and way of life. Manor houses and parks play an essential part in the Estonian landscape.

 

The life in the manor has been as interesting as the story of its construction. We know from the history that in years 1717-1740 so-called Albu Orphan School worked in Albu (although evidently not in the manor house), where schooling and chivalric education were given to orphaned and impoverished children of nobility. Also some non-noble Estonian and Russian children attended the school. In history records the school has also been called as “knight academy”. Old languages, French, German, fencing, dancing, history, architecture, geography, military studies were taught there.

Albu Manor together with the neighbouring birthplace of A. H. Tammsaare and the 13th-century Järva-Madise Church (Ph) is worth a swerve from wide roads and big cities. Since 1921, a school has been working in the manor house. (Ph)

Text by Aino Pung

 

Albu Manor House is open to public from 1 September to 1 June, starting from 2:30 p.m.

Prior registration requested on phone 038 37761, 038 20501.

In 2002 the manor house is open to tourists from noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday, from 08 June to 18 August.

 

You can see the textile exhibition, in co-operation with Estonian Academy of Arts, from 29 June to 26 July, and the exhibition of paintings by Tiit Pääsuke from 27 July to 18 August. Information on exhibitions on phone 052 14270.

 

Kontakt:

aadress: ESTONIA Järvamaa, Albu vald, Järva-Madise,  73401

e-mail: albu.vald@albu.ee

telefon: +372 38 20 501

faks: +372 38 20 500