The oldest information on the Kurzeme Kukši Manor dates back to October 12, 1530, when the Master of the Livonia Order Walter von Plettenberg gave the land of the Kandava parish, which was owned by brothers Jēkabs–Pēteris and Klāvs Kuksis, to Bernd Thidwit (Tiedewitz) as a fiefdom. Thus began the richly eventful history of the manor, similar to other Baltic manors.

In 1695, Wilhelm von Tiedewitz sold the manor to the Chancellor of Kurzeme Friedrich von Brackel. In 1746, the manor was owned by Otto von Heyking, whose son sold it to Phillip von Gohr. Later the manor was owned by Paul Reinhold von Rennenkampf, pastor Bilterling, and Christoph Stender, and in 1822 by Johan Christoph Ernst von Boetticher, whose descendents managed the manor until the rural reform in Latvia.

In 1856, the manor was largely reconstructed when Thekla von Boetticher ordered the manor to be renovated and modernized. As a result of the reconstruction and right up to present times, modern wallpaper covered valuable wall paintings done from 1780—1800.

The mother of Baltic German writer Werner von Bergengruen, Helene Anna Mathilde von Boetticher, who married Paul Emil von Bergengruen, M.D. in 1889 in Riga, was born at Kukši Manor. Werner von Bergengruen lived in Baden–Baden until his death in 1964. Dr. Luise Hackelsberger, one of three children from that marriage, often visits the Baltics. She is interested in and supports the restoration process of Kukši Manor. We were very glad to receive 12 damask napkins (1896) from her, which had been a part of her dowry. They have now returned home. One of the rooms in the manor will be named the Bergengruen room.

The impressive building gives a solid and secure impression due to the more than one-meter-thick walls of the cellar. The manor house was built on the banks of a river. Later on, a dam was built on the river to provide a sufficient water supply for the mill. The manor house is still majestically mirrored in the waters of the river. The body of the building, with two additional wings, is a typical country house. Two floors of the building can be seen from outside, but from the inner courtyard, oddly, only one floor can be seen, lending a unique character to the building that is not found anywhere else.

After World War II, the collective farm management moved into the manor. This was followed by restitution to the Latvian owner. The building was left vacant, and as a result its condition deteriorated.

In 2000, the property was purchased by an hotelier from Riga, who gradually started to renew the building. The manor has been declared a national cultural monument. Four rooms are of special significance because their walls and ceilings were completely covered in paintings. It took four years to clean and preserve and then restore the paintings. All this was carefully supervised by the monument protection inspectorate, and we enjoyed successful and constructive co-operation.

The restorers made every effort to preserve the original details, from the ovens, the parquet, the oldest doors, and staircases, to the oldest floorboards and brick floors in the kitchen. New windows had to be installed. For each window, more than 70 elements — from nails to fittings — were made by hand to correspond to the original. The roof was put on using the old tiles. The rooms on the ground floor were preserved to look practically like their originals and their original use was renewed. This was possible with the help of the inventory list in the Last Will and Testament made by Christoph Ernst Boetticher in 1855. The list provides an interesting look at the furnishings of rooms at the time. Professor Lancmanis and professor Stūrītis were involved in the project and supported it with valuable advice. At present, the restoration is almost complete. The building has recovered its previous splendor, renovated as a cultural monument of this kind deserves, and performs its new functions as one of the style-conscious country hotels in the Baltics. The building is outfitted with such care that there is no trace that is was abandoned or that time had passed it by.

Daniel Jahn


Tukuma district, Jaunsātu parish, Kukšas, "Kukšu muiža", LV-3128
Mob.: +371 29205188, Ph.: +371 63181545, Fax: +371 63182343
e-mail: info@kuksumuiza.lv, Skype name: kuksu.muiza

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