The cradle of the city of Skellefteå

You could say that this is where Skellefteå began. At Stiftsgården, next door to Sweden’s oldest country church, the country’s oldest wooden bridge and the Bonnstan district. The picturesque church town that has been around since the 17th century.

WHERE IT ALL BEGAN

Stiftsgården in Skellefteå opened its doors to the public almost five years ago. The spa facility is a reminder of vicar Brandell’s third wife, Miss Huss, who procured the city’s first bathtub. Aside from that, the story actually begins with the vicar, Johannes of Skellopt in 1374, a contemporary of Saint Bridget of Sweden and Dante’s Divine Comedy.

You could say that this is where Skellefteå began. At Stiftsgården, next door to Sweden’s oldest country church, the country’s oldest wooden bridge and the Bonnstan district. The picturesque church town that has been around since the 17th century.

– Yes, explains Kalina “the whole area is, in a way, Skellefteå’s cradle.
Kalina is the Managing Director of Stiftsgården and a proud carrier of its history. We have coffee in the restaurant, in what used to be a vicarage well into the 20th century. For the last 50 years, various kinds of courses and conferences have been held here.
– This place is so incredibly rich in history. It’s not always easy to know where to begin, Kalina says with a smile.

FRÖKEN HUSS (MISS HUSS)

In 2011 Stiftsgården opened its doors to the public and three years later the business was expanded with an outdoor spa in the courtyard: “Fröken Huss Spa & Relax”.

– Miss Anna Huss was the third wife of vicar Brandell, explains Kalina. She moved to the vicarage in 1879 and amongst her belongings was a bathtub, the vicarage’s first. A bathtub from the city was a strange thing in those days.
Today, there are more and larger bathtubs at Fröken Huss.
– And they are far more luxurious, Kalina says with a laugh.

HISTORIC HOSPITALITY

At Stiftsgården you can relax your shoulders and breathe in the moment. But more than anything else, Stiftsgården is a place firmly rooted in its history. “From the moment you enter the yard and meet the aroma of blossoming apple trees, to when you greet the chef who will tell you about the evening menu. Everything is connected to the place and its history. The walls are imbued with hospitality.”

“The housemaid Margareta Renhorn is left behind in the kitchen of Stiftsgården after Russian troops, in one of the last battles on Swedish soil in 1809, chased Swedish soldiers and civilians away. The parting words of Doctor Ström’s wife are still ringing in Margareta’s ears when she finds herself seated at the table with the Russian General Schuvalov: ‘Whosoever makes claim to our house, be it friend or foe, you will show them the hospitality that is customary in this vicarage.’”

According to legend, the remarkable hospitality was what convinced the Russian general to spare Stiftsgården from death and destruction.
– She is, of course, a guiding light to us in how we treat our guests.

THE CITY OF SKELLEFTEÅ

In 1834, Nils Nordlander moved into Stiftsgården. He is, in many respects, the founder of the city of Skellefteå and court chaplain Nordlander was known as a charismatic man who would rarely yield without getting his own way.

“In the early hours of the morning he gets up to organise work at the large estate farm, with all its employees. By the desk in his office, a steady stream of new plans is drafted with far-reaching consequences for the entire region. At Nordlander’s behest, Skellefteå is granted city privileges in 1845, the secondary school is founded in 1860 and the Skellefteå Savings Bank is established, with its first, simple office inside the vicarage – all for the benefit of the common people. Here, ideas on reformation of the care for society’s poor and the development of the educational sectors are also born, whilst sermons on the most important care are prepared.”

– That bank vault still exists, Kalina says with a smile, it’s a fantastically beautiful room.

Photo: Jonas Westling

IMBUED IN THE WALLS

Today, the vicarage has been turned into a restaurant and meeting place and the facility has both a hotel and a hostel.
– 87 beds all in all. The kitchen is based around pure, authentic flavours combined to create authentic meals. We gather as much as possible from our own garden where we have apple trees, berry bushes and spices. On the second floor, up the stairs from the restaurant, is Anna’s Room, part of the Upper Drawing Room; an homage to the artist who paved the way for women in the arts.

“Anna Nordlander was born in 1834, daughter of Nils Nordlander. She was one of the first women to study at the Royal Academy of Arts in Stockholm and she continued her studies in Brussels and Paris. In her art, Anna depicted the landscapes of her childhood. Sami motifs were popular at the time but whilst many artists looked to the mountain world, Anna Nordlander chose to focus on the less imposing, more barren lowlands of Swedish Lapland. Aside from landscapes she found inspiration in Nordic history and mythology. The Museum Anna Nordlander at Nordanå is an homage to the artist. In addition to the MAN, her works can also be seen at the Skellefteå City Library and in Anna’s Room at Stiftsgården.”

The ceiling of the Upper Drawing Room is magnificently high and the light of the early morning sun streams in, on people and interiors.
– In the evening, this is a drawing room for our guests. Here you can enjoy a good book, lose yourself in endless conversation or just let yourself be carried away by the beating wings of history. Sometimes, life does not have to be any more complicated than that.

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