The cultural heritage of Baltic Manors

Visit the beauty of rurality

More then 300 Years of common history in the Baltic Manors Landscape

The South Baltic has historically been an area, where people, goods, ideas – and armies – moved around. Tied together through family connections, economic activities, and everchanging borders, the region share many histories. The EU Interreg project South Baltic Manors highlights manors and manorial life in the past and present in areas of Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Poland, and Lithuania. There will be an exhibition at 7 places around those countries, a festival of manorial culture is held in each area and touristic routes and offers will provide access to the versatile landscape of Baltic Manors.

Manorial ownership and manorial life in the South Baltic region have through the centuries been heavily influenced by movements of borders and movements of people across existing borders. In the the 16thto 19thcenturies noble families often moved from serving one king to another and subsequently also bought or were given land in different countries and regions. Thus, the same families can be found all over the region, which was connected through the Baltic Sea – not divided by it.

What is a Manor House?

A small world in itself
A manor house is a representative family house and the centre of a large agricultural estate. Thus, the manor house is not just a large house, but a part of a large-scale environment, which also includes farm buildings, as barns and staples, garden and park, and the production landscape: fields, meadows and forests.

Workers
Historically the agricultural land belonging to manors was worked by tenant farmers, who rented farm and land from the manor owner and paid the rent in work hours, agricultural produce and money. Personally they were free.
At the end of the 17. century the landlords more and more acquire the land of the peasantry and the former farmers became unfree workers. At the 19th century the large manor estate was the determining element of the East Elbe/ Baltic landscape.

Privileges
Manors are often, but not always, owned by noble families. Until the end of the 19th century manors were exempt from taxes, because owners since the Middle Ages had plight to support their sovereign in war. As democratic systems developed the privileges belonging to manor owners disappeared.

Baltic Manors – times of change

Across borders

Manorial ownership and manorial life in the Baltic region have through the centuries been heavily influenced by movements of borders and movements of people across existing borders. In the 16th to 19th centuries noble families often moved from serving one sovereign to another and subsequently also bought or were given land in different countries and regions. Thus, the same families can be found all over the region, which was connected through the Baltic Sea – not divided by it.

Destructions and communism

During and after the Second World War many manors were destroyed in the eastern part of the region, where war unfolded. In the aftermath, communism was introduced in East Germany, Poland and the Baltic states, which meant a huge transformation in ownership, of land and the means of production. After 1989 – when the German wall came down – a new transformation has begun. While lots of houses turn into ruins, because of their loss of function as community center, a tremendous number of manors were being rebuilt as estates became privately owned again. Most of them were turned into hotels, creating a new rural culture of country houses and manors. They choose between museums or cultural places, farmstay estates, boutique hotels, bed & breakfast, luxury hotels or holiday apartments to have a nice vacation, family gathering or an unforgettable wedding. Whereas in Denmark and Sweden most of the houses are still owned by the same families. The Manor House owner also have to face the challenges of modern times and the changes of modern agriculture turn out to be not as profitably as they were back then before the War. Modern Manor Houses offer culture, innovative products, or guest rooms and touristic facilities. Some Houses and castles are in public or private-public ownership and are run as museums.