“Set behind wide trenches and surrounded by tall lime trees Clausholm, with its heavy and grave exterior, appears to brood over a secret or to shield precious memories of a distant past.”
This is how Clausholm is described in the old books, and there is some truth in it. The Castle has a long and colourful history involving royal glory, eternal love and tragic fortunes.
The baroque style of Count Reventlow
Clausholm is mentioned in the history books at the beginning of the 1300s when its owner, Lage Ovesen, was one of the leaders of the Jutland revolt against Valdemar Atterdag. In those days Clausholm consisted of a main building built round a quadrangle. It stood on an islet and was surrounded by water-filled trenches. When the chancellor, Count Conrad Reventlow, took over the estate in the 1690s the buildings were so outdated that he pulled them down. In their place he constructed the present two-storey building made up of three wings. The Castle is arranged so that the chancellor himself occupied the ground floor leaving the upper floors for royal visitors. Thus the first floor is superior in decoration with taller ceilings and more stucco. The Castle and the Park is one of the earliest and most complete baroque establishments in Denmark.
Anna Sophie and Frederik IV – a love story
Whilst Count Reventlow left his distinct mark on the exterior of Clausholm his youngest daughter, Anna Sophie, was responsible for the atmosphere and the many stories that live on within the walls. In 1711 the 18 year-old daughter of the Count went with her mother to a masquerade ball at Koldinghus Castle where the royal household resided whilst the plague raged in Copenhagen. During the ball the King fell in love with the beautiful young maiden and the following year he abducted her from Clausholm. The servants helped Anna Sophie climb through a window and the horse and carriage waiting for her in the Castle Park took her straight to the chapel at Skanderborg Castle. That same night she was married to the King’s left hand. They had to marry this way because the King was already married to Queen Louise. When Queen Louise died in 1721 Frederik IV married Anna Sophie to this right hand. He crowned her Queen himself and they lived together in true love.
- and a tragedy
It may sound like true romance, but it was not all bliss for Anna Sophie. The Court and the King’s children disapproved of the marriage, and even Anna Sophie’s own mother bitterly regretted taking her daughter to the masquerade ball. During King Frederik IV’s lifetime, however, the resentment against Anna Sophie was suppressed. But when the King died in 1730 conditions changed. Frederik IV’s son, Christian VI, banished her to her childhood home of Clausholm. For 13 years she lived here with a household of 60 until her death on 7 January 1743.
In several places the adornments of Clausholm show signs of the great sorrow Anna Sophie suffered during her final years. During her marriage to Frederik IV she gave birth to 8 children, who all sadly died in infancy. Anna Sophie considered this God’s punishment for the sinful life she had led.
The great restoration
The ownership of Clausholm changed regularly after Anna Sophie’s death until Hans Heinrich Friccius v. Schilden took over the estate in 1800. Since then Clausholm has belonged to the Berner-Schilden-Holsten family.
For many years Clausholm was only inhabited during the summer. The lack of electricity, water and central heating made it impossible to live at the Castle all year round. But during 1964-65 Henrik Berner, Chamberlain, and his wife Ruth Berner modernized Clausholm and brought the Castle back to life again. Since then the Castle has been under constant restoration and today the work is carried on by Kim A. Berner, Chamberlain and Master of the Royal Hunt.
Clausholm is unique because it has been left largely undisturbed since the 1730s, unlike many other castles. During the entire restoration work great attention has been paid to preserving the stories relating to the Castle. For instance, an old floor is not just replaced by a new one. Instead the old floor is repaired to give a good idea of how the floor looked in the 1700s. Likewise it is also possible to see where the old stairs were and thus get a feeling of the changes that have taken place at the Castle.
In the summer of 1994 HRH Prince Henrik, in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen, presented the family with the Europa-Nostra Prize in appreciation of their great achievement. The prize is only awarded in exceptional circumstances for exemplary restoration work.