I grew up in Sneek, in the north of the Netherlands. In the nearby village of IJsbrechtum was the closest noble estate, and I am pretty sure this was the first castle I ever visited, easy to reach by bike. Later when my mother worked in the Fairtrade shop in Sneek they had a stand at the Christmas market in the mansion. And of course we loved going there. The day after the Dutch royal family spent Queen’s Day 1993 in Sneek, even an “Oranjebeurs” took place here. Years ago a friend of mine celebrated his birthday here, and I and a few friends joined in costumes. Recently when cycling with my mother this was one of the places I wanted to see again.
Already in the 15th century there was a small hill with a defensible tower and farm with gatehouse on this site. In 1564/65 the widow Anne Pietersdochter Jongma bought part of the land, called “Epingaguedt toe Ysbrechtum”, and she acquired the rest of the land in 1566. After the death of Pieter Pieters Jongma in 1620 the property is inherited by his nephew Idts Idtsz van Albada. He likely is the one who built the Epema State.
The house was bought by Doeke Martena van Burmania in 1651. He possibly had the building altered in 1652 and had the gatehouse still present built, which is made clear because of the stones in the gatehouse showing the arms of Burmania and Juckema. In 1723 the house had a front and a back house. The front house had a Flemish facase, a basement, a main floor, a hall and an attic with a few rooms. There were also several outbuildings. 1746 the house was inherited by the Rengers family, after 1806 the Van Welderen Rengers family.
The mansion was drastically altered in 1825. The Flemish facade disappeared, the attic floor was raised, the windows got Empire windows, some outbuildings disappeared and a new coach house was built. Since 1878 the mansion and coach house share one roof. Around 1880 the resident had a large dome placed on the roof, that was demolished pretty quickly as it was too heavy for the roof. Another renovation took place in 1894, when the house received a Neo-Renaissance appearance with red bricks and cross frames. Many old features were lost for ever. Through Baroness Clara van Harinxma thoe Slooten, who inherited the house 1974 from her Van Welderen Rengers mother, the house ended up in the possession of the Van Eysinga family. Her son Jonkheer Tjalling van Eysinga is the present owner.
The house, with coach house, is surrounded by a canal and a garden, partly designed in English landscape style by Lucas Pieters Roodbaard around 1825.. The house itself is decorated with family portraits. In the nearby church are the graves of Doeke van Burmania and his wife, made around 1690. There are also mourning plates for the Rengers-van Welderen couple from around 1780.
Visiting the house
It is hard to miss the house, as IJsbrechtum isn’t very big and if you come from Sneek it is visible already. Because it is private property, one has to make an appointment to visit, unless a public event takes place. The house is available for weddings, parties or meetings. In the gatehouse is a suite, that can be booked too. The Epema State can even take care of the catering.
The surrounding garden/wood is however accessible and you can walk around the canal and see the house pretty well.
I was lucky enough that the gate was open, and that even two carriages had been taken out of the coach house, when I had a quick look a few weeks ago.