Hidden away in the pretty village of Asta is the Erik-Anders Hälsingegårdar, one of the famous Decorated Farmhouses of Hälsingland. Asta is about an hour from Hudiskvall and you’ll need to pay attention to find it, blink and you’ll miss it. It is a picturesque hamlet of farms and classic red-brown wooden houses, which as well as having a world heritage site has a traditional blacksmiths and carpenters.
The Erik-Anders Hälsingegårdar is considered to be one of the finest examples of the Hälsingland Decorated Farmhouses open to the public. The house was originally built by the wealth farmer and landowner, Erik Andersson, in 1820 and has passed through many hands since then. It is the current owners who have lovingly restored the whole house, carefully renovating each room to showcase a different period in the house’s history.
On entering the farmhouse one is immediately struck by the grandeur of the interior design. The entrance hall, stairway and landing, which lead to the first floor and the Festivities Room, date back to 1850 and are skilfully painted to resemble marble. The Festivities Rooms are always the most striking features of the Hälsingegårdar, designed to impress and demonstrate the owner’s wealth and status. The Festivities Room at Erik-Anders is no exception; it runs the width of the whole building and is flooded with natural light thanks of a series of large windows that look over the gardens. The walls of the room are decorated with light blue stencilled borders and marbling, which is repeated on the tiled stove.
Traditionally the families of the Hälsingegårdar would live their day-to-day lives in the rooms on the ground floor of the farmhouse. The first floor was kept for special occasions and the splendid Festivities Rooms only used for the most important events. At Erik-Anders there are four rooms on each floor, many with the traditional Swedish tiled stoves, woodwork painted to look like mahogany and hand-painted wallpaper.
On the ground floor there are examples of two traditional kitchens; one has been restored to show how it would have been in the 1800s, whilst the other, to the left of the entrance hall, has been preserved intact from the 1920s. There is also a room dedicated to the Swedish Jazz musician Jan Johansson, who grew up a few miles from Asta. Jan Johansson is a Swedish celebrity who interpreted Swedish and traditional European folk tunes into jazz.
The garden has also been restored to its former glory and is a blaze of colour in the summer months. There are currants, gooseberries, chives, perennials, apple trees and lilacs that are a reminder of how life was lived at Erik-Anders 100 years ago. In July each year a Jazz and Folk Music Festival is held in the garden to celebrate the music of the local Jazz musician Jan Johansson. For more information about the festival visit: http://www.varldsarvsjazzen.se/
How to visit Erik-Anders:
You can stay at the Erik-Anders Hälsingegårdar or visit for the day. It is open June – August each year, at other times of the year it is necessary to pre-book. There are guided tours, a lovely cafe and small shop selling traditional handicrafts and furniture. For more information about visiting or staying at Erik-Anders go to: http://www.erik-anders.se/
This is the third in our series on Hälsingland and the Hälsingegårdar. There are over a thousand Hälsingegårdar in Hälsingland but only seven have been awarded UNESCO world heritage status. To read the full feature on the Decorated Farmhouses of Hälsingland click here and to read about the fascinating Hälsingegårdar Bortom Åa click here.