Historical excursion

It transpired that on no occasion Honeybuns has been in Mariefred has she had time to visit Gripsholm castle. This obviously won’t do, so a castle trip was necessary. To have the maximum time available we took the train to Läggesta. We hesitated for a second whether to take the bus or the steam train to Mariefred, but clearly a steamtrain trumps busses. However, it turns out ÖSlJ does not take credit cards, but they were kind enough to let us come along anyway, get cash in a (the?) ATM in Mariefred and buy the tickets afterwards. Customer service!

In Mariefred we got ourselves something to drink in the station café (Note: In spite of a menu footnote to this effect, they don’t actually carry gluten-free sandwiches.) and had a quick look in the museum. When we got out to go the castle it had started raining, so we proceeded with some haste.

Gripsholm, with its almost 500-year history (600 since Bo Jonsson Grip’s original fortress), is a melange of all ages, being rebuilt about once every century to adapt it to current needs of each age, while honouring the past. It’s current guise is a sort of 1890s idea of what it should have looked like during the renaissance and I suspect that in quite a few instances the reconstructions may have gone beyond what was originally there.

A model of what the castle would have looked like ca 1600.

This corner is the tower on the far right above, extended by a new wing. The brick on the wing (on the left) is real, on the tower it is a pattern painted on plaster.

The bartizan is an 1890s recreation of one which was presumed to have existed here.

Honeybuns was very fascinated and pleased with the window flannings that all had nice benches to sit on. One wonders to what extent they existed originally—to be sure most windows would have been smaller at the time that the castle was actually used as a fortress in the turbulent times of popular uprisings and dynastic struggles. I wonder what issues the builders in the past would have had with knocking new holes in the massive old walls to increase window sizes and attaching new wings to the castle—would there at any point have been problems with the structural integrity of the walls?

On my earlier visits I had clearly not been very attentive to the portraits in the collection, but now I realised that many of the standard depictions of people in Swedish history are paintings displayed at Gripsholm. I read the famous names, and indeed every now and then found ancestors of people whose history in the limelight went so far back. Honeybuns noted that the portraits up to the 19th Century were cast very much in the same mold and were all but indistinguishable from each other, mostly concentrating on the jewellery and exclusive clothing while rendering skin and faces as smooth, characterless surfaces, but from the 20th Century there was suddenly a great many portrait styles.

Photography was not allowed at all inside the castle—presumably to avoid the hassle of explaining to people with automatic flashes that flash photography is not allowed—so no interior pictures for you.

We finished the tour somewhat before the castle closed and returned to the town to see how to best return and perhaps to find something to eat. We found S/S Mariefred waiting by the bridge and decided to take the boat back to Stockholm.

No comments: