A little about Spurvely

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"Spurvely" (Sparrow-shelter) got its name in the early 90s, when my husband and I bought the house. In the garden was an incredible lot of birds, mostly sparrows, but also pigeons, woodpeckers, pheasants, robins, titmouse's etc., even a white-tailed eagle did we see in the garden, a "great lot of a bird" as my husband said. It landed in one of our big elm trees and jumped down on a stump from a birch to tidy itself. An impressing sight!

Before "Spurvely" became "Spurvely" the house was known as "The Teacher's House" or "Mr. Pedersen's House".
The teacher's name was Eric Smith Andersen Kirkeby and he was the man from whom we bought Spurvely, and the house was known as "The Teacher's House" from 1971 until we bought it in the early 1990-ties. In some unknown period up till 1971 it was known as "Mr. Pedersen's House".
However I have searched in old census papers on the internet (by land register number in the parish of Birket) and have found the following information's about which people have been living in our house.
The census papers from February 1st 1925, which is the youngest papers you are allowed access to, tell that here lived a man called Carl Rundqvist, his occupation is entered as "house-owner", he was born March 14th 1852 and his wife Kirstine Rundqvist born June 10th 1861. He is at this time 72 years old and his wife is 61 years.
The census papers from February 1st 1916 tell that the same people Carl and Kirstine Rundqvist lived here, his occupation is entered as "farming", and as a supplementary information is entered that his yearly income was 519 kr. (about 100 US $), his fortune was 3.500 kr. (about 700 US $), and that he had to pay 8,00 kr. (about 1.50 US $) in tax to the parish. (Oh, boy! That was "the good old days"!).
The census papers from February 1st 1906 tell that the same people Carl and Kirstine Rundqvist lived here, his occupation is entered as "agriculture", but there are no supplementary information's about his income, fortune or tax.
In addition to that here lived a man called Johan Rundqvist, born September 4th 1811 in Växsjö (in Sweden), he is entered as "widow and becomer-man" - a "becomer-man" is a pensioner upon one's own farm. Johan is probably Carl's father and he was at that time almost 95 years old, which was rather old especially in 1906.
The census papers from February 1st 1890 tell that here lived a man called Johan Rundqvist and his wife Kirsten, her exactly birthday/year is not entered but supplementary information tells she was born in Stokkemarke parish (not far from here) and that she was 63 years at that time. Johan's occupation is entered as "shoemaker".
At the same census papers, but on a different land register number in the parish, I found Carl and Kirstine Rundqvist (the son ? and his wife) entered as respectively 37 and 28 years old and a "child (girl) not yet one year old" called Johanne Marie Rundqvist.
The census papers from February 1st 1880 tell that Johan Rundqvist and his wife Kirsten lived here; his occupation is entered as "master of shoemaking" and her occupation as "housewife".
At the same census papers, but on a different land register number in the parish, namely at an 67 years old widow's farm (she is entered as housewife and lady-farmowner) is Carl Rundqvist entered as a 27 years old unmarried farm laborer.
There are even older census papers e.g. from 1860 and so far back as 1787. I have searched them all, but as this very old papers has no land register numbers, but was entered with e.g. "a house", "a farm", "the school" etc., it is impossible for me to find the inhabitants on Spurvely so far back. I know that some houses and farms during the years have been knocked down - and others have been built - and even if I found some names on farms and schools I know, and which still are here, e.g. the very small school at the road 3 houses from here (to day), I do not know how many houses or small farms that have been knocked down (or built) on the land from where Spurvely is to where the small old schoolhouse is. There is no school there anymore, some people is using it as a "vacation-house".
I would have loved to know the names of the inhabitants of Spurvely so far back as 1750, where it was built, but I had to give up.
I have looked, too, for the name "Rundqvist" in the old papers from 1860 and older, (Rundqvist is not a common sir-name in Denmark), but I did not find any by that name. I do not know in what year the "Old Rundqvist" (the man born in 1811 in Sweden) came (immigrated?) to Denmark, but probably between 1860 and 1880.

The house was built in 1750 and was a so-called "outlying farm" from the Barony Juellinge owned by squire, Baron Jens Krag-Juel Vind. Until about 30-40 years ago the property was about 9.5 acres (about 40.000 m²) but to day the property is "luckily" only about 2.100 m².

How the very first inmates, who were villeins at the baron (the abolition of adscription took place in 1788), lived, are not known. The inmates had first of all to do the villein services at the "lord of manor" before they got time to grow their own land. I have not been able to find out how much land the very first inmates "owned".

It was among others the two brothers Christian Ditlev and Ludvig Reventlow, who worked hard for the abolition of adscription and they succeeded in 1788. Christian Ditlev owned several estates at Lolland, Christianssæde, Aalstrup, Lungholm, Pederstrup and Skelstofte, and he was the neighbour to Baron Jens Krag-Juel Vind on the barony Juellinge. It is not certain, that the baron was quite happy with the neighbourhood because old books tells, that the baron's widow Sophia Magdalene Krag-Juel Vind in the 1780s was very much against the Reventlow-brothers idea about the abolition of adscription, and Christian Ditlev saw her as a political opponent. She was among others the power behind the so-called "farmer-quarrel", which two years after the abolition of adscription was a threat to the government circles where Christian Ditlev Reventlow mingled.

Well - maybe I should ask the timber frames in our old house, how it was at that time, for most of them is the same as in 1750, when the house was built. The old "frame-numbers" I, II, III IV etc., are still to be seen on almost all the old oak frames.

One of our neighbours, who have a great historical know-how about old half-timber houses at Lolland, has told me, that the timber was felled and trimmed in Rosningen. Rosningen is a forest at Vesterborg about 10 kilometres from here.

At Rosningen all the frames were numbered (with roman numerals) and then transported to the place, where the house was to be built, and here it was easy to assemble, as all the frames were numbered, after the assembling it was just "smacking up the clay". There are 54 frames, so it had been some kit.

Some of the walls in the house are mud-built, which we found out under a greater renovation in 1996, where one of the walls in our offices almost collapsed, when all the many layers of old wall paper were removed. When the new windows were mounted (the old ones gave us absolutely free air-condition - summer as well as winter), the workmen removed several old sun-dried clay-bricks surrounding the old window in the room we call "the old kitchen" to find a firm ground for mounting the new window. Unfortunately the workmen threw the old sun-dried clay-bricks outside in the rain, so I did not manage to save just a single one of them. I should have liked very much to have one as a memory from the past.

"Spurvely" was - as I mentioned before - in the old days a very small farm with living quarter, barn, stable, hen house and so on. The living quarters had been very small up till 1983, where the former owner made a great reconstruction, so to day there are living room in the barn, bathroom in the stable for cows and horses and kitchen in the piggery.

I am sorry I do not have a plan over the house from that time. Our neighbours, who knew the house before the reconstruction, and a few very old hinges in some of the timber frames tells, that if the farmer from the villeinage-time came back to day with a cartload of hey to the barn, he would drive right through the living room, would "knock out" the dinner table, my husbands arm chair, the bookshelves and the woodburning stove and then properly cover the coffee table, the "kitty's sofa", the TV and my arm chair unloading the hey.

The house's total area is 190 m². Before the reconstruction the living quarter was only 70 m² divided into three rooms and a very small kitchen. The rest - about 120 m² - was the barn, stable etc. But well, at that time one just had one or two cows, maybe a horse and a single pig for "Christmas-food" in the stable.

To day we are using "the old living quarter" for offices and the reconstructed barn, stable etc. for living quarter. First floor - "the loft" - is to day 4 rooms and a big "loft-room" on about 70 m² used as archive for our offices. The rooms are located above the reconstructed stable and barn and the archive, which got a new floor and insulation during the renovation in 1996, are located above our offices.

Is was very necessary to renovate exactly that sealing/floor, because when we went up there - before the renovation - one should be very careful where to put your foot, unless you wanted to "put at foot down into the offices". And it was easy to see if somebody had put the lights on in the offices, as you could look right through the old floorboards. The loft above the offices (the old living quarter) had been used for storing grain and other crops from the farm, so it needed badly to be renewed. Anyway, there were some of the old thick floor boards that were ok, and I used some of them for building the "Ullers Minde", one of the cats' houses in "The Kitty's Village".

To day the piece of land surrounding the house is about 2.100 m², so we have a big garden. I have - by using my home-made "fathom-line" - which are measuring one meter - measured the land to 58 x 37 meters. I measured just outside the cherry plum hedge surrounding the land.

In the back of the garden stands the old water-pump from the old days. It seams almost intact with it's great concrete lid, but the well will properly not give any water even if we renovated the pump with new pump leather etc., because near the pump grows several big trees and they may have spread their roots to the old well. At the same time as I were measuring the land by my home-made "one-meter-fathom-line", I measured the distance from our front door, which in the old days was the kitchen door, and to the well. The distance is 55 meters - and 55 meters back to the door again - I am happy, that I do not need to fetch the water from the old well!

Someone may wonder, why the well is so far away from the house, actually in the opposite corner of the land where the kitchen were, but one had to dig the well, where the water was. It is without doubt that the old kitchen was where the hall and the staircase are to day. The old kitchen-table with its sink made of wood was still under the tabletop, when we bought the house. In the old days all houses were built "right-angled" in proportion to the corners of the world and the kitchen was always due north.

The house was built with a thatched roof, but today the thatched roof is gone, the former owner removed it in 1983 and replaced it with new rafters and a hard roof. During the houses lifetime somebody had elevated the roof, properly at the same time as the thatched roof was replaced. Today we have "high to the sealing" (in the offices 2.15 meters), but two of the very old and low doorways are still in the house. The doorway between "the old kitchen" and my office, and the doorway between my husband's office and "the yellow corridor", where the doorway is only 1.57 m. It caused some bumps in the beginning we lived here, but to day we are used to the "low height". And we do not have the heart to change the two old doors remembering that what looks as a minor repair in an old house may give certain surprises and may result in a major rebuilt.

Maybe "the yellow corridor" in the old days was no corridor at all, but a narrow passage between the living quarter and the stable and barn, because one of the walls (inside the house) have timber frames, which look as they once had been outdoors.

To day the house is 255 years old and still standing, and it survived the hurricane in December 1999 without any damage. Some of the houses in our neighbourhood lost both roof and rafters, and a single house almost collapsed.

In excess of the great reconstruction in 1983, which the former owner made, and the smaller renovating, which we made in 1996, others things have happened to "Spurvely", so if the villein from 1750 saw the house to day he properly would not recognise it.

The "stack shed" was an outhouse without walls with first floor and a high pitch when we bought the house. The shed have now got walls, a window and a gate, and I have painted the walls with "look-a-like-timber-frames-paint".

At the south of the house is built a "Kitty's Village" at 80 m² to our cats, so they do not get killed by big, heavy traffic by agricultural machines driving on the road during the time for sowing and harvesting. Just beside the "stack shed" my little red car called "Pico" has got it's own carport, which is - to keep the style - painted as timber frames as well.

The garage for my husband's car, is a kind of "double-garage" but in the wrong direction, i.e. it is two cars long. We have put an extra gate in the inner part of the garage, so we do not need to enter the garage from the road.

The first years we lived here, I cleared the garden with chain saw, lopping shears etc, so the most of the garden is a lawn to day and not too difficult to keep.

I moved the old herbaceous border, which I thought were on the wrong side of the house, namely in the back of the garden almost besides the old pump, up on the lawn in front of the kitchen door.

As I was digging to prepare the soil for all the old perennials, I found a minor kitchen midden. When an old neighbour passed by to see what I were doing, I mumbled something about the odd thing, that the former owners had thrown old pieces of pots and all kinds of junk just outside the kitchen door.

"Well", he answered, "Your kitchen door was the stable door in the old days. Where you are planning to have your herbaceous border was the dunghill, and just outside your kitchen door was the liquid manure tank, but it was filled and covered with soil in 1983!"

Oho! Now I understood why the small hollow in our driveway are still there no matter how many times I try to fill it with sand or soil. I think it will take many years before the liquid manure tank is quite collapsed.

We do love to live on "Spurvely", although somebody will say, that even not the crows passes by every day.

But here is beautiful nature; the birds are singing just outside the doors, we have rooms for our home-offices; we have nice, helpful and caring neighbours; and when I saw the house for the very first time I had no doubt, here was The House. When I opened the gate to enter the land, the house said: "Hey! You must live in me!"

No - no! The house can not talk, but maybe it was our private house-ghost saying: Here is a good place to live!


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