There are many places called Suuremõisa in Estonia. Hiiu-Suuremõisa (Dago-Grossenhof) is in Pühalepa municipality in eastern Hiiumaa. It is 6 km from Heltermaa Harbour, 18 km from Kärdla and 16 km from Hiiessaare airport. Hiiu-Suuremõisa is one of the grandest baroque manor complexes in Estonia. Today the manor is home to Hiiumaa Vocational School and Suuremõisa's kindergarten and elementary school.

 

 

Main building

The current main building was built between 1755 and 1760 on the orders of Countess Ebba Margaretha Stenbock in place of the previous single-storey building, which had had vaulted basements and timber roofing. Traces of the older building can be seen in some of the vaults of today's main building, which was designed to copy one of the Countess’ childhood homes in Sweden. The designs were most likely drawn up by Joseph Gabiel Destain. The builder was Peter Opel. At some point after the building’s middle section had been completed, in 1760 or 1761, Russian Empress Jelizaveta Petrovna visited the manor.

In 1772 the single-storey annexes were built and the antecourt was established. The main building had 64 rooms.

The manor was said to have underground passages, one of which was thought to lead to Pühalepa church and another to Ussikelder, which is 1.5 km away.

The buildings were made from local limestone. Farmers from as far as 30 km distant were employed as builders, and it is said that the stones were transported from the Hilleste limestone quarry a few kilometres away by a human chain, passing the stones from one person to the next. For the building work the manor’s carpenter, locksmith and forge and its limekiln and brickfield were used.

The main building has a grand hipped roof. Four large corniced chimneys are on the ridge of the roof, and the building used to have a mansard. On the front and back of the building clock dials have been preserved. On a quiet day the peals of the bell could be heard as far away as Kärdla.

In front of and behind the main building are imposing, 10-metre wide main staircases, up to which it was possible to drive in a carriage. The front terrace was a huge staircase surrounded by vases, pedestals and statues. The path to the back staircase was also lined with similar vases and statues on pedestals. During the manor era there were also cannons on the staircases. An oak door with baroque carvings marks the front centreline.

At first the room placement in the manor was strictly symmetrical. All of the doors of the eastern rooms had been collinear, but during later reconstructions this placement was not followed.

The main building’s current interior originates in part from the second decade of the 20th century, when the manor was owned by Dorothea (Dolly) von Stackelberg.

Of the imposing elements of the interior decoration, the carved oak staircase of the first floor vestibule with its dolomite floors has been preserved.

On the first floor were the rooms of the adult members of the family. The lord of the manor’s rooms were on the front right-hand side, while his wife’s rooms were on the left-hand, park side of the main building. Her bedroom was connected to the adjacent rooms not only by a door but also a secret door hidden in the closet. This carved closet and its secret door have been preserved.

Other noteworthy aspects of Suuremõisa manor’s main building are its tiled stoves, parquet floors and a mural in the ceiling of the former dining room, which is encircled by the sentence “For those who are chaste and pious in their work, God will set the table”. A ceiling mural has also been preserved in the hunters’ hall on the ground floor.

Both the office and the living quarters of the penman were in the left wing of the main building. The living quarters of the governor of the manor were in the right wing.

Behind the second floor's balustraded hallway is a hall with a ceiling embellished with stucco decor. To the left of the hallway were the drawing rooms and parlours. To the right of the main staircase were the living quarters of the children, their governess and their tutor; later the children’s and private teachers’ rooms were on the left.

In the attic were the summer rooms. These rooms were once used as servants’ rooms. Between the summer rooms (i.e. between the floor of the hall and the ceiling of the second floor) were spaces built as hiding places that the writer Aitsam described as stores for items amassed through piracy.

In the basement were the living and working quarters of the higher-ranking paid servants and storage rooms.

People say that from time to time one could hear the sound of horses’ hoofs coming from the basement – this would predict the death of a family member.

All sorts of mysterious legends circulate about the manor, and people have heard voices and seen apparitions. When the manor was owned by the Stenbocks and Johann Chalenius (1741-1776) was the minister of Pühalepa church, things really got out of hand: the Devil began terrifying people every night. Finally the minister was asked to exorcise the evil from the manor. The minister came, lay on a couch in one of the rooms and cut a wooden apple in half. He placed one of the halves on the table and the other on his chest. The sign that the Wicked One was present was that the half on the table would fly to the half the minister held. When this sign came, the minister recited special words, made three signs of the cross on each of the doors and read seven Our Fathers at every window. After this the Devil could no longer get into the building.

A lot has been said about the ghosts in the manor. Sometimes you can hear furniture moving or doors closing with a click, or feel someone passing by. It is thought that this ‘someone’ is the spirit of Captain Malm, who was killed in the manor. Also, the spirit of a woman haunts the main building. Not much is known about her apart from that she means no harm.

Mittetulundusühing Suuremõisa Loss | Tel: +372 513 6269 | E-post: mty-juhatus@hak.edu.ee
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