Clausholm Castle is one of Denmark's finest Baroque buildings. The castle's origins appear to go back to the 12th century but it is first mentioned in the 14th century when its owner, Lage Ovesen, was one of the leaders of the Jute uprising against Valdemar Atterdag. At the time, Clausholm was a four-winged building surrounded by a moat. But when the first Danish primeminister, Grand Chancellor Conrad von Reventlow, acquired the property in the 1690s, it was in such a sorry state that he pulled it down and had today's two-storeyed, three-winged building constructed in its place. It was designed by Danish architect Ernst Brandenburger with the assistance of the Swede Nicodemus Tessin the Younger.
The castle was designed so that the Grand Chancellor could live on the ground floor while the first floor, with higher and more decorative ceilings, was intended for royal visitors. Both the castle and the park are among Denmark's earliest and finest from the Baroque period. It was thanks to Reventlow's daughter, Anna Sophie Reventlow, that the castle gained fame when she was abducted by an amorous king, Frederick IV. Anna Sophie became his queen in 1721 but when he died in 1730, she returned to Clausholm with her court.
In the castle's chapel, decorated by Anna Sophie, is one of Denmark's oldest organs built around 1700 by the Botzen brothers from Copenhagen.
As there was no running water or electricity at the castle, for many years it was only inhabited during the summer. But in 1964, the new owners, Henrik and Ruth Berner, modernised the facilities with the result that the castle came back to life. Restoration work continued for a considerable period, great care being taken to protect the historical building which had remained practically untouched since the 1730s. The efforts were rewarded in 1994 when Queen Margrethe presented the castle with theEuropa Nostra Prize for outstanding heritage work.
The large Baroque park with its fountains and avenues was designed in the 18th century. In 2009, with the support of the Realdania Foundation, the park was thoroughly renovated.References:
Dating from the 15th century, Kisimul is the only significant surviving medieval castle in the Outer Hebrides. It was the residence of the chief of the Macneils of Barra, who claimed descent from the legendary Niall of the Nine Hostages. Tradition tells of the Macneils settling in Barra in the 11th century, but it was only in 1427 that Gilleonan Macneil comes on record as the first lord. He probably built the castle that dominates the rocky islet, and in its shadow a crew house for his personal galley and crew. The sea coursed through Macneil veins, and a descendant, Ruari ‘the Turbulent’, was arrested for piracy of an English ship during King James VI’s reign in the later 16th century.
Heavy debts eventually forced the Macneil chiefs to sell Barra in 1838. However, a descendant, Robert Lister Macneil, the 45th Chief, repurchased the estate in 1937, and set about restoring his ancestral seat. It passed into Historic Scotland’s care in 2000.
The castle dates essentially from the 15th century. It takes the form of a three-storey tower house. This formed the residence of the clan chief. An associated curtain wall fringed the small rock on which the castle stood, and enclosed a small courtyard in which there are ancillary buildings. These comprised a feasting hall, a chapel, a tanist’s house and a watchman’s house. Most were restored in the 20th century, the tanist’s house serving as the family home of the Macneils. A well near the postern gate is fed with fresh water from an underground seam. Outside the curtain wall, beside the original landing-place, are the foundations of the crew house, where the sailors manning their chief’s galley had their quarters.