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Gunderupgaard Story

 The Gunderupgaard 600 year old tree
Gunderupgaard is located on the road from Trend Bro to Fredbjerg, along the outskirts of Trend Storskov. The closest larger village is Farsø. The driving distance from Randers is approx. 75 kms. The farm has been owned by a long list of people who have cultivated the large property with various degree of success throughout its 1000 year history. However, slowly but surely, its space has been decimated at every change of owner. The final blow came in the 1920s when large scale farming started to take its dreadful toll. Gunderupgaard is today only a bleak shadow of its former glory. The main building is just 100 years old and nothing is left of the grand manor house. It has been torn down bit by bit over the years and the total area of the land reduced from the original 3,900 acres to a mere 50.  But all is not totally lost. There is still an impressive moat, a 600 year old tree which once was part of a larger park. And then there is of course the underlying history of the estate which is not visible to the eye. The history of Gunderupgaard has been formed by its many distinctive owners, esquires and knights, wrestlers from the monestary period, noblemen and estate owners, officers of various ranks - and there is also a count and a baron among the pack. 

There is no knowledge of the man, who built the first house on the premises over 1000 years ago. But the belief is that he came from either the village of Fredbjerg or Strandby. In 1971, archelogists found traces of a smithy which was dated to year 1200. In a letter dated in 1252, King Christoffer I (1252-1259) gives formal privigies to the nearby Vitskøl monestary (after the reformation known as the estate Bjørnsholm). In this letter, Gunderup is mentioned for the first time.

Over 200 years later, there is the next known piece of news about Gunderupgaard. Most likely, it belonged to the monestary and that a wrestler, a farm bailiff, was living on the estate. But there is also a possibility that the estate was sold off from the large monestary's property some time in the 1300s to pay for taxes imposed by the King. During the 1400s, there is uproar among the people towards the King, Christoffer III of Bavaria. But he peasants, under the leadership of Henrik Tagesen Reventlov, are defeated by the royal infantery close to the village of Sct. Jörgensbjerg, north of Aggersund in June 1441. But further to the south of the Limfiord, the peasants are more busy with stopping the disasterous blowing sand or putting out wild fires. In this century, we find for the first time, a name of person living at Gunderupgaard. The year is 1443 and the man is Ture Ranke, an esquire. When he died, his wife Anna Ranke took over the estate. In 1477, there is some evidence to show that the monestary was sold to Vitskøl monestary by Anna Ranke.

The reformation took place in 1536 which meant that the state confiscated churches and monestaries, turning the life of the monks upside down. The significance of Vitskøl monestary changed completely and Gunderupgaard was affected as well. The peasants were hoping for more freedom and better social conditions. But nothing changed much for this group in the society. For example, King Christian III sent out a letter to everybody working in the monestaries, complaining about the peasants unwillingness to perform certain duties.

There is evidence of another owner in 1560. The local clergyman Christian N. Juel writes that Søren Lauritsen from Gunderupgaard, a son of Lars Perssen, was taken into custody after having killed Palli Severensen from Strandbygaard. It is not known what happened to Søren, but without much doubt, he was excecuted by hanging or had his head chopped off. The clergyman is also writing about a raging pest in 1547 which killed numerous people, including several monks in the Vitskøl monestary. In 1564, Christian N. Juel had been promoted to county priest and moved into his rectory, Vadgaard, very close to Gunderupgaard. The two were only separated by a stream. A bridge was constructed in 1571. The year after, an old woman from Naesby, Anna Nielsdatter was burned in public. She had been accused of witchery and had not confessed despite several months of torture. The seven-year Nordic war broke out in 1563 and the King ordered that the cooper-roof of the Vitskøl monestary should be removed and melted down to produce canons. As a result, the building gradually dilapidated helped by raging sandstorms and biting frost.


In 1573, King Frederik II decided to get rid of Vitskøl monestary. In a transaction, he exchanged the property and attached farms, including Gunderupgaard, for the estates owned by Björn Andersen on Seeland. Björn Andersen was born on Stenhalt in 1532 and had served with the King during the seven-year war. Apart from Stenhalt, he owned several other estates. He died on Bjørnsholm in 1583 and was buried in Ørsted Church. Björn Andersen had hired a vassal to look after Gunderupgaard named Anders Ged. He had the job for eight years and according to the tales, he was not a very popular figure. In fact, there were several attempts on his life. A winter day in 1573, he was attacked while traveling from Fredbjerg and struck by a sword in the belly. He survived but was again attacked and beaten on the head with a large piece of wood in a valley west of Gunderupgaard.


From the diary of Christian N. Juel, we know that Lars Perssen’s daughter Mette was married to Thomas Christiernsen who was vassal at the monestary in 1571. Lars Perssen died in 1573. Later, we find Niels Lauritsen and Poul Lauritsen on Gunderupgaard. Niels Lauritsen later moved to Björnsholm. Margrethe, the daughter of Björn Andersen lived since many years on Gunderupgaard. It is believed that she contributed to the construction of new buildings on the estate. After Björn Andersen’s death in 1583, the estate was broken up in the inheritance act. The 13-year old Margrethe and her 16-year old sister Sidsel inherited Gunderupgaard, Strandbygaard and the mill in Trend. Margrethe was married in 1591 to Jörgen Ernst Worm but he died already the year after. Their marriage took place at Dronningborg Castle near Randers and was financed by King Christian IV. She was still alive in 1628 but her death day is not known. Sidsel was born on Stenhalt in 1568. She is also mentioned as Cizelle and Zidtzille and married vassal Godslev Budde 28 February 1588. King Frederik II attended the wedding ceremony at Haderslevhus but due to the King’s lung decease, only a small group of people attended the wedding. Despite this pre-caution, he died only a few days later on his way back home to Copenhagen.

Their mother, Karen Friis, had moved from Björnsholm and taken up residence at Vaar in Farstrup county. This estate had a large fire due to a blizzard on 13 June 1587 and regretfully, all the archives of Björn Andersen were destroyed. After Karen Friis died, Margrethe decided to move to Vaar and donate Gunderupgaard and all the attachments (which included most of Strandby county) to her sister and her husband Godslev Budde. He and his family originated from Germany and he arrived in Denmark together with Sofie af Mecklenburg who later married King Frederik II. The King trusted him well and therefore he rose quickly in the ranks. In 1579, he was given Börgum monestary which he kept until his death.

When Princess Anna, a daughter of Frederik II and Sofie af Mecklenburg were due to sail to Scotland in 1589, to marry King Jacob (James) VI of Scotland – a son of Mary Stuart, Godslev Budde had been ordered by the King to accompany the princess on the voyage. A fleet of 14 ships were equipped but the gear was in lousy condition and the crew badly trained for the trip. Due to a very bad storm, the fleet had to stop in Norway and the wedding postponed. Instead, the Scottish King traveled to Norway and the wedding took place at Akershus 24 November 1589. The incident had a terrible aftermath. A rumour floated that witches had caused the storm on the North Sea and quickly a total of 14 women were accused and burnt in Copenhagen. Even in Scotland a number of women were burnt.

Due to all the above mentioned events, it is hardly suprising that Godslev Budde did not have to look after Gunderupgaard on a daily basis. Instead, he planned the development of the estate on a grander scale. He built the moat which is still visible at Gunderupgaard and had the ambition to construct a complete manor house in accordance with all the correct prescriptions. Today, we have no knowledge of what this led to since the manor house burnt down in a fire in 1715. A new manor was erected on the ruins.


Sidsel Björn died in 1619 and Godslev Budde was demanded by his children to conduct an inheritance act. On the 1st of May 1619, Christian IV commanded Ivar Juel of Villestrup and Otto Skeel of Hammelmose to represent Godslev Budde’s son Frederik’s interests. It took however, another year before it took place. Godslev Budde died in 1622 and is buried in Vadum Church. Godslev Budde had prior to his death decided that the estate should be given to Gude Galde, a far distant relative. His daughter Dorthe was given parts of both Gunderupgaard and his other estate Rödslet, as compensation. A few years after, she sold shares in both properties. She was living on Rödslet when Wallenstein’s soldiers ravaged the countryside in 1627 to 1629. The property was badly damaged and Dorthe Budde who had given half of the estate to Gude Galde in 1624, now had to sell the remaining part to Gude Galde’s widow, Helvig Marsvin who at that time had taken over Gunderupgaard and half of Strandbygaard.

Gude Galde came from a Norwegian noble family and lived in the years 1613-1618 on the farm Ryumgård in Sönderhald county. In 1594 he had studied at the university in Leyden, Holland and was drafted to the military in 1611. He was commander of a warship in 1620. He married  Helvig Marsvin and died on Nörlund in 1626. Helvig Marsvin was born on Nörlund 21 September 1580 and she owned this manor until her death in 1648. She was a sister of the famous Ellen Marsvin whose daughter Kirsten Munk married King Christian IV in 1615. Helvig Marsvin sold Gunderupgaard and attachements already in 1632 to Rigborg Ahrenfeldt. Both Helvig Marsvin and Gude Galde are buried in Ravnkilde Church.

The new owner of Gunderupgaard, Rigborg Ahrenfeldt was born 17 March 1600 as the 8th child of a total of 12 on Rugård estate, district of Dyr. She was engaged to Niels Rosenkrantz who was an officer in the Danish army which during 30 years fought against catholic forces commanded by Wallenstein and Tillly of Braunschweig. In the battle at Luther am Barenberg on 17 August 1626, Niels Rosenkrantz was killed.

Rigborg Ahrenfeldt moved into Gunderupgaard in the fall of 1632. At the neighbor estate, Björnsholm, on the other side of the Trend stream, resided the 35-year old Axel Juul. They married a short time after and consequently, the two estates now came under the same leadership albeit for only a couple of years. Rigborg had purchased the last part of Strandbygård from Johan Brockenhaus. These time were troublesome in Denmark. The farms were heavily taxed to compensate for all the losses of the war. In the year 1638, Gunderupgaard consisted of 21 tdr.hartkorn in addition to the Trend mill and a further 36 tdr.hartkorn. (hartkorn is a way of measuring the value of what can be produced by the farm). Taxes were imposed on the total amount of hartkorn as determined by special inspectors.

Rigborg Ahrenfeldt died in 1655 and her husband Axel Juul in 1664. They are both buried in Bjørnsholm Church (formerly Vitskøl monestary). The estate was inherited by their son Niels Juul. He turned out to be just a formal owner as he was deep in depth and constantly on the run from his creditors. The property was mortgaged well over its value and the creditors managed to get the state to issue a warrant for his arrest. In 1672, he fled out of the country and was never seen again. Most likely, already in 1667, his father-in-law Axel Juul had heavily mortgaged both Gunderupgaard and Bjørnsholm. The total debt was 11.135 rdlr, a stunning sum of money especially since Gunderupgaard was sold the year after for 6.524 daler.

Gunderupgaard was taken over in 1668 by Peder Hofman of Randers and with him a new era started for the estate. The Hofman family would for the next 100 years play a significant role throughout the county and nearby areas.

Peder Hofman’s time on Gunderupgaard did not last long. Already in 1671, he chose to transfer the estate to his brother,
Thöger Hofman. It is not known, if Peder Hofman lived on the estate at all. He was a rich man who owned several properties in Aalborg including Jakob Kjellerups farm. The two Hofman brothers were from a distinguished family, descendants of Niels Jacobsen, the well-known mayor in Randers. Peder Hofman was educated in teleology and married to the Bishop in Århus, Brochmann’s daughter. She died four years after the wedding and he re-married Johanne de Hemmer. In 1681, he was appointed Judge in Kammerkollegiet. His brother, Thöger Hofman who took over in 1671 was married to Catharina de Hemmer in 1674. He was born in Randers 22 February 1648 and was only 23 years old when he became an estate owner. Although he died young, at the age of 43, he managed to transform the estate to a complete manor house by 1683. Thöger Hofman was appointed landskommisarius, the job of measuring the value and quality of the soil. A new law had been passed 1683-1686 which came under strong criticism.For this purpose, special tools were developed. But above all, the inspectors should also taste the soil, feel it and smell it. Resulting from the measurements, logbooks were kept with all registrations. Based on them, taxes and evaluations were made.

Thöger Hofman and his wife Catharina de Hemmer lived on Gunderupgaard until their deaths. Catharina died in 1704 and they are both buried underneath the choir in Strandby Church. Their daughter Gertrud Hofman and her husband Niels de Poulson erected a large memory plaque (Marmora Danica) to their honor in
Strandby Church.

With Niels de Poulson and Gertrud Hofman, the positive developments at Gunderupgaard continued which Thöger Hofman had laid the foundation for in 1683. Niels Poulsen was born on Söbygaard, in Gjern county on 23 June 1677, a son of Jens Poulsen and Maren Madsdatter, daughter of Mayor Mads Poulsen in Randers. Niels Poulsen and his brothers Mathias, Poul and Clemens were ennobled on 11 February 1718 and added a ‘de’ to their name. At the same time, Jens Poulson, the 5-year old son of Gertrud Hofman and Niels Poulsen was ennobled.

In 1701, King Frederik IV had introduced a common draft for all peasants in order to build a farm militia totaling 15,000 men. The estate owners were responsible for supplying the men to the army based on the size of their properties. The mandatory service time was six years. In 1709, the big Nordic war broke out and lasted until 1720 with increased taxes and general additional burdens for the population. Niels de Poulson became Captain, later Lieutenant-Colonel in the farm militia. This special force was the pride and joy of Frederik IV but abandoned after his death. Niels de Poulsen had to balance his job in the militia with his duties at Gunderupgaard and according to the tales, he did this very successfully. His influence stretched far beyond his own properties and into the nearby villages and counties.

Gunderupgaard was totally put in ruins as a result of a fire on 5th May 1715. According to the diary of prelate Axelson, the main building burnt to the ground including all inventory and animals. The owners had to flee the fire in their nightgowns. The fire was a catastrophe, but soon enough a new house was built up. The buildings remained until ca. 1890. At that time, a complete re-construction was undertaken. Some interior details and panels were however saved for later generations to admire.

Niels de Poulsen died 9 September 1745 and was buried in the same chapel at Strandby Church he and his wife had financed some years before. His wife Gertrud moved a while after to Lynderupgaard which Niels de Poulsen had bought for 20,000 daler in 1733. Gertrud Hofman died 27 July 1750 and was buried next to her husband. There are beautiful memory plagues in Strandby Church to their memory. Following the death of Gertrud Hofman, a fund was set up to provide an ongoing contribution to the poor souls in the county. The pay-outs from this fund continued until 1954!

Jens de Poulsen, the son of Niels de Poulsen, born 4 August 1713, became the owner of Gunderupgaard for 19,000 daler following a deal with his family members. At this point, he had advanced to Major’s rank. He became General Major in 1744. He married Charlotte Amalie Wurff, born in 1716. He died in Aalborg 11 December 1784. Shortly after his take-over of Gunderupgaard, he ran into arguments with his neighbor at Björnsholm due to a dispute over the management of the nearby church. It appears from local tales that he was not a very popular person among his subordinates too. In 1764, a local peasant tried to kill him with a letter-bomb but did not succeed. Instead, he was sentenced to death but escaped the country before the verdict could be carried out.

Jens de Poulsen sold Gunderupgaard in 1756 to an old friend of the family, Hans Christoffer Rosencrone and moved to Börglum Monestary which he had bought from the famous architect Laurids de Thurah. In 1753, he had initiated a large renovation project at Björnsholms Church. This turned out to be a very difficult undertaking as the building was more or less totally rotten and he had to get the Kings support to complete the work.


The text above is taken and translated from the book "Gunnis Torp - Historien om Gunderupgaård og Trend Storskov"
by Sören Bugge Vegger (1992). Bugger Vegger passed away in 2007.


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