The first castle stop in “lockdown” on 31 May 2020 took me to the Allersmaborg between Ezinge and Aduarderzijl, The Netherlands. It is situated about 18 kilometres from the city in Groningen, where I live. For a rather inexperienced cyclist like me it was quite a distance, but the weather was lovely, so there I went.
Borg is the Groninger word for stronghold or mansion. The buildings belonged to noblemen or prominent citizens.
Likely the Allersmaborg was built between 1200 and 1400 as a farm. During excavations in 1970 old walls were found, which were so deep, that restorers decided to stop digging. Parts of the chellars in the annex are possibly from the 13th or 14th century, or the 15th century. Over the years the farm became a mansion.
The mansion got his name from the Allersma family, that was recorded for the first time in 1489 and became extinct in 1588. They were not noble but managed to marry into noble families. The Elema family inherited the mansion in 1588. Mid 17th century the name “borg” started to be used. The Elema van Allersma family became extinct in 1682.
The next owners were the Busch (de Marees) family, who built the east wing in 1720. In 1766 the Marees van Swinderen family inherited. They were ennobled in 1817. In 1817 the east wing got a second floor. Especially Jonkheer Reneke de Marees van Swinderen loved to spend time at the mansion.
Both his children died before him, and thus the Jonkheer decided to donate his porcelain collection and some paintings to the Groninger Museum. He died in 1899. His nephews and nieces were not interested indeed, and the house was sold to be demolished. 500 years of inheritance came to an end. Luckily after protests the Ezinger notary Jan Willem Bolt managed to stop the plans by buying the house himself, but a big part of the interior had gone lost already. It wasn’t until the 1920s that restorations were started.
After 1942 the house was used as part of the state archives in Groningen. In 1946 the municipality of Ezinge bought the mansion. For many years the building became an art colony. Ezinge sold the estate in 1976 for 1 guilder to “Staatsbosbeheer” (manages nature reserves), that leased it to the Province of Groningen. After 2005 the University of Groningen leased the building via the Allersmaborg Foundation and uses it as a guest hous and a meeting place for former students. 2005-2007 the mansion was restored to its 19th century glory, including an English garden. The house is exploited by Beijk Catering.
The book “7 eeuwen Allersmaborg” by Annette van der Post and Henk Th. van Veen was published in 2019, and has lots of photos.
Visiting the Allersmaborg
The Allersmaborg is not the most spectacular mansion in the province. It is situated between the villages of Ezinge and Garnwerd. The very small settlement even has a name: Allersma. The buildings are surrounded by a moat with a drawbridge. The estate is about two hectares big and one can find hives, an orchard with apple trees. The park is accessible.
The building itself can however only be visited after having made an appointment, 7 days a week. It is also possible to marry in the building. Some more information can be found here. I might well give a visit a try in the future, as it would nice to have a closer look around.