[My Chamber of Textile Thoughts. No: LXXXIII | By Viveka Hansen]

In one of my earlier projects – published in 2004 – a document originating from 1758 at Christinehof manor house in southernmost Sweden provided the basis for my research. This 18th century inventory list will be presented in a total of twelve studies giving numerous examples of material culture, domestic economies, standard of living and everyday life from a perspective of a wealthy noble family. In this hand-written manuscript the reader can follow the interior details from room to room over three floors in the manor house. Among the various furnishing, such as chairs and sofas, tables, chest of drawers, curtains, beds, wall-coverings etc – textiles of all kinds played an important role for comfort, warmth, status, decorative purposes and value of inheritance for the family.

In 1737 the construction of a three-story manor house with two wings and attic was started in a rural location outside the village of Andrarum in southernmost Sweden. The house was completed in the autumn of 1741 for the wealthy Christina Piper, who at the time was also the owner of the close-by Andrarum alum works. Alum, so important as a mordant for textile dyeing among many uses. (Photo: Lars Hansen, The IK Foundation, London).

From 1741, when the newly-built manor house was described in a protocol, and up to the inventory dating from the late 1750s, scattered knowledge about life at Christinehof can be gleaned from preserved accounts, letters and shares. The listing was introduced with the first floor, including rooms of the count and countess. The Hall was the central room and in 1758 the countess’ areas were situated to the left and the count’s to the right of the Hall. On this floor – besides the couple’s drawing-rooms, bed-chambers and cabinets – additional areas constituted the Young Lady’s Chamber and the son Count Adolf’s Chamber. Maids and valets lived close-by, to be at service at all times. Additionally as necessary Wardrobes and Contoir (pharmacy) were mentioned in the inventory.

In 1758 it was the count and tenant in tail Carl Fredrik Piper (1700-1770) and his wife Ulrika Christina Mörner of Morlanda (1709–1778) who lived at Christinehof manor house, from July to October this particular year according to a hand-written document of used firewood etc. The family owned several manor houses in Sweden, but their main home was in Stockholm. These two portraits depict the couple somewhat earlier ca 1748-50, and clearly demonstrates their high position in society within the Swedish nobility. Luxury silks, velvets, laces and ermine were part of their fashionable and representative dress. (Courtesy of: Christinehof manor house, Skåne, Sweden. Photo: Viveka Hansen, The IK Foundation, London)

The second floor was more or less a reflection of the first apart from that the Hall was grander and spanned the entire building. Various rooms on both sides of the Hall, were named, probably after visiting relatives and friends. For instance Baron Unger’s Chamber, whilst other rooms were mentioned by the colours of which they were decorated – the Green Hall or the Blue Chamber.

The ground floor was more diverse with domestic spaces for the household with kitchen, larder, bakery, brewing-house together with quarters for the cook, housekeeper, inspector, footman, court chaplain and tutor. But included were also The Counts’ Chamber, His Excellency’s Small Writing Chamber and The Vault which housed everything from kitchen tools to woven tapestries. Through the very minute descriptions in this inventory, the daily life of a wealthy noble family in the 1750s Sweden comes to life.

The first page of the ‘Inventory of Furniture and All Sorts of Household Utensils at Christinehof Manor House Anno 1758’. (Courtesy of: Historical Archive of Högestad and Christinehof, Piper Family archive, no D/Ia)

Interior painting by Pehr Hilleström (1732-1816), depicting a late 18th century milieu from the higher nobility in Sweden. A lady is working or inspecting an embroidery at her frame, whilst a second lady holds a candle stick. Even if this painting dates a few decades later than the inventory, Hilleström’s portraying of a wealthy home and the sparse lighting after dark can easily be compared with similar circumstances at Christinehof manor house. (Courtesy of: National Museum, Stockholm, Sweden. NM 2452, Wikimedia Commons)

The following posts in this new series will primarily focus on textile materials of all variants and tools used for handicraft. These often costly textiles, were not only chosen for their decorative significance but the utilitarian purpose, an aspect of vital importance. Thick wadded quilts helped to retain warmth, while thick curtains helped keep out draughts. It was only from the point of view of decorative luxury that the household’s financial state would mirror the differences in the choice of textile furnishings. The richer the manor house the greater the quantity of exclusive silk fabrics, woven carpets, imposing bed canopies with matching fittings, and thick hand-worked rugs. Most of such manor houses reveal a rich treasure of textiles stretching back over decades and sometimes centuries at a time when it was important to preserve the history of the family for the future, together with its store of textiles valuable in themselves. Thus a home like Christinehof manor house would often possess a historical spectrum of textiles, both Swedish-made and from leading continental workshops, or imported from distant countries via the East India trade.

Quotes translated from Swedish to English.

To be continued…

Sources:
– Hansen, Viveka, Inventariüm uppå meübler och allehanda hüüsgeråd sid Christinehofs Herregård upprättade åhr 1758, 2004. (pp. 7-9 & 38-57. A large number of primary and secondary sources were studied for this book. For full Bibliography; please see this book.) The book is available here.
– Hansen, Viveka, Katalog över Högestads & Christinehofs Fideikommiss, Historiska Arkiv (Piperska Handlingar No. 3), London & Christinehof 2016. (English Summary & Captions)
– Historical Archive of Högestad and Christinehof, (Piper Family archive, no D/Ia & F/III a 1).
– Mannerstråle, Carl-Filip, Nya huset i Andrarum Anno 1741, 1991.

PLEASE REFERENCE AS FOLLOWS:

Hansen, Viveka, ‘The Daily Life at a Manor House in 1758 – An Introduction’, TEXTILIS (June 25, 2017); https://textilis.net/ (Accessed: Day/Month/Year)