A visitor arriving in the village of Västra Vram in the mid-1700s could have booked a meeting with the eminent parish clergyman Johan Bolmstedt. At this time the vicarage was a newly built four-sided homestead. The house was painted red and surrounded by, amongst other things, a lush orchard filled with trees bearing pears, apples, plums and cherries. Just imagine the colours and smells in this garden on a warm summer’s day!
Came to the museum in 1926
In the early 1900s Västra Vram vicarage was to be demolished and replaced by a modern structure. Georg Karlin heard of these plans and bought it in 1926, making it a part of the open-air museum. The house, as it looks today with its whitewashed exterior and blue window frames, has had the same appearance since the beginning of the 1800s.
A new vicarage is built
The vicarage was built in 1754–55 and designed according to new legislation issued by the Swedish parliament, or Riksdag. Prior to this a clergyman’s dwelling would have likened a yeoman’s home, but now this type of building was expected to more clearly reflect the differences between the classes. The public spaces, such as the reception room/study, lay towards the front of the house, while the more private rooms lay facing the garden. Another new feature was that staff could live separately, in an adjoining house.
Johan Bolmstedt and his family
The vicarage has been furnished to reflect the year 1768, when Johan Bolmstedt and his wife, Agneta, lived here, together with their three young adult daughters – Eva, Hedvig and Anna – and their grandchild, Johan. Their other children had already left home. The maids Bolla, Dorotea and Nilla and the farmhands, Nils and Ola, lived in the extensions to the building, where the assistant clergyman, Mr Kjellman, also had a room.
Bolmstedt was educated at Lund University and had served as a military chaplain for several years. He had been stationed in several places including Finland during the war with Russia. Between 1751 and 1771 he was a member of the Swedish parliament where he represented the clergy. Bolmstedt was spoken of as “resourceful and honourable”. He had liberal political leanings and was inspired by the French enlightenment philosophers. He supported beliefs that opposed the privileges of the nobility.
A visit in May 1768
On the 17 May 1768 the family received a visit from Johan Hinric Lidén. He was a literature student from Uppsala on a journey south, to the continent. He took the opportunity to visit the renowned clergyman and enjoyed a good breakfast. He later wrote in his diary:
“During such time as I, in Wram, waited for the horses, I paid a visit to the clergyman residing in the selfsame village, Mr Joan Bolmstedt, the past parliament’s parliamentarian of note. The furniture, if nothing else, spoke for The Reverend having been in parliament. It was self-evident that I here was invited to listen to political discourses, which I, when circumstances allowed, made an effort to respond to. The gentleman’s wife hails from East Gothland, and a most diligent mademoiselle daughter set before me a palatable breakfast.” (From Diary of a journey abroad by Johan Hinric Lidén 1768).
A visitor to the house today may find it difficult to picture it as a manor house. The passing of 300 years has left its mark. Nonetheless, one can sense that both the house and its interior decoration would have been impressive those hundreds of years ago.
The portrait in the parlour
In the parlour hangs a likeness of Johan Bolmstedt, painted when he was around 40 years old. This is a copy of a portrait painted by Alexander Roslin, who later would become one of Europe’s most sought-after portraiture artists.
As a visitor you will have to imagine the life and character in what you see. Perhaps the fire crackled in the stove while the maids hurried to prepare dinner, the daughters speaking animatedly as they embroidered in the parlour. Perhaps the braying, lowing and clucking of farm animals drifted in from the yard. Or perhaps they were kept too far from the house to be heard.
Fancy chamber pot
Today, entry to many of the rooms in the vicarage is restricted, but visitors can still view the rooms through the clear partitions that separate them from the parlour. The master bedroom can be glimpsed through the dining room where one can see, amongst other things, a fancy chamber pot made of East India china; the sort of item only a well-to-do family was likely to own.
Johan Bolmstedt was parish vicar for the congregations of East and West Vram from 1749. He and his family were the first to move into the newly built vicarage.
In 1777 Johan Bolmstedt passed away at the age of 72. Agneta, his wife and five years his junior, lived for another 20 years. She died in Karlskrona in 1797.
This text is taken from our booklet Kulturen Open-air Museum, that you can buy in our museum shop.