States in Friesland: The Dekemastate

Just south of the city of Leeuwarden, Province of Friesland, very close to the Martenastate, you’ll find the Dekemastate in the village of Jelsum. The former noble estate nowadays is a museum.

The Dekemastate is one of the oldest castles in Friesland, dating back to the 14th century, when it was built as a defendable hall fortress. The house was first mentioned in 1486 when Pieter Camstra inherited the residence called Fetsa State and some land. It was renamed into the Camstra State. During battles at the end of the 15th century the house was almost completely destroyed. Early next century a two-storey building was built, and since was renovated and extended for centuries. The present building dates from 1814, when the main building was lowered by one floor. All periods can be found back when you walk through the house.

The house was once again renamed when in 1523 the heiress Reynsk van Camstra married Hette van Dekema, but since has remained the same, despite of the house being inherited by various, often non-noble, families. Their son Pieter van Dekema died 1568. In 1633 their daughter Anna Catharina van Dekema left the house to Juw Meckema van Unia. His daughter Anna Catharina married Gerlich van Doys. The next heir in 1774 was Anna Catharina’s niece Elisabeth Maria Brunet de Rochebrune, married to Maurits Philips Houth. Their granddaughter Juliana Lucia Elisabeth Maria Houth married 1791 Gerard van Wageningen. The family Van Wageningen remained the owner until 1996.

The family Van Wageningen decided to give the estate to the Stichting Old Burger Weeshuis in Leeuwarden, because the building, the inventory and the gardens urgently needed to be restored. Since it has been made accessible to visitors. The house itself is furnished as if the residents are away for a while. These residents live in the thirties of the last century. Traces of all periods can be found inside the building, including of the last family that lived here.

The garden around the manor house is a beautiful classical garden with lots of plants. There is a small tea garden next to the building where you have to buy your ticket and also can find some souvenirs. I liked the terrace, but otherwise I thought it was not worth the name unfortunately. As I had liked something to eat, I didn’t really get what I hoped for. They only had some cakes, sweets and drinks that you had to take from a fridge yourself.

I was very lucky they just had started an audio tour since 10 June. I am not a fan of these, but the stories told here were rather interesting. Unfortunately their headphone didn’t go with my phone, and I didn’t have my ear phone with me. But one can also listen to it online. I was given a nice tour by one of the guides of the museum, that pointed out to me several interesting things. One of these stories you will find on this blog later on.

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