House and home:
Convenience and comfort are today obvious qualities that we look for in our homes, but what is it that makes a house into a home and makes it feel comfortable? And how did families perceive their homes a long time ago? The purpose of this exhibition is to invite country house visitors to think about these houses as places where people lived – as homes. We focus, in our research project, upon the homes of the elite in Europe (especially Sweden and England) during the eighteenth century. This was an important period for the development of the cultural and social norms that govern what we look for in our homes. Physical comfort, from soft furnishings and being warm – was increasingly important for many home-makers, but it was just as important to present oneself as a respectable and fashionable individual – what we might see as bringing social comfort. There was also an emotional and non-material dimension of comfort that was of the outmost importance for individuals.
Ekeblad family at home:
Greve (count) Claes Julius (1742-1808) was the last of seven generations by the name of Ekeblad to own the country house Stola. He and his wife, Brita Horn (1745-1791), celebrated their wedding in 1775 and through their letters, diaries and accounts we can follow the couple and their efforts to create a house and a home that reflected their position in society. The couple was often parted for long periods as Claes Julius held different positions at the Royal court in Stockholm. The house, which still stands today, was built in 1719 by Claes Julius’s grandfather and grandmother, replacing an older wooden house. Today, we rarely think of old houses as changing environments, but new technology, fashion and economy influenced the owners’ ideas about their accommodation – just as it does today. Thus, grandfather Claes started making improvements to the house almost as soon as he moved in. A big change was made in the spring of 1729, when the master stonemason Stenhammar inserted stone floors in several rooms (letter from his steward, B. Beronius 28/4 1729, Lund University Library, LUL).
Claes Julius and Brita:
By the efforts of Brita and Claes Julius, Stola was turned into a more convenient house to live in, and the rooms and their furniture better arranged to produce a sociable environment. Even so, what really made Stola a home was the people living there. The letters between Brita and Claes Julius give the image of a very warm and loving marriage. Claes Julius spent a lot of time in Stockholm, in service with Gustav III, and Brita usually stayed at Stola to manage their estate and business. Her letters are filled with stories about what is happening on the estate, about their horses, newborn calves, unruly servants, or concerns about wild deer that did great damage to the fields (letter September 1782, RA).