Two posts today – sometimes life just gets in the way!!
It’s not the first time I’ve mentioned this lovely old Carthusian monastery not far from where we live. I always say that folk used to know where to build – the religious orders, especially, are so often in stunning locations!
This one has grown over the last 900 years and that kind of history leaves traces. It began as a small castle, was destroyed and rebuilt, belonged to the Augustinians and later the Carthusian monks, though it never seems to have been very large, and always a farm of some kind. Having Frauenfeld nearby, at that time a Habsburg centre of administration, helped to keep it under local religious and political protection. Interestingly, when the Carthusians took over, they kept the public away from religious services – in particular women, resulting in a “women’s strike”, breaking in and having a sit-down strike until they got their own chapel in the village!
During the Reformation, in 1524, the monastery was plundered and burnt down and only rebuilt as part of the Counter Reformation, 30 years later. After that it did quite well for a couple of hundred years – but along came Napoleon, the old Confederation was replaced and they were no longer allowed to take novices, and eventually the monastery was closed down in 1848, the fate of many at the time. Fortunately, it wasn’t destroyed and the cantonal library took over the Ittingen collection.
From here on, the property changed hands several times as a working farm, though Kaiser Wilhelm did visit in 1912, apparently, and the first flushing loo was installed – quite something at the time! In the late 1970s, a trust took over and after several years of intense refurbishment, the old Carthusian monastery opened as a place of retreat, including a seminar centre with a hotel, museums (Thurgau Art Museum and one of Carthusian monastic life), café-restaurant and working (organic) farm, as well as a protected workplace for people with special needs. Although the whole enterprise has been very successful and popular, the latter provides a variety of products for the gastronomical enterprise – beer, cider, wine, schnaps, herbs, nuts, honey, fruit, yogurt, cheese, dried meats, fish and vegetables (both fresh and preserved), as well as selling flowers and herbs to the public.
What with that serene monastic atmosphere, no wonder it’s a popular seminar and retreat hotel and always booked up as a wedding venue – in fine weather when you can eat outdoors, the stream rushing into the old pond provides a watery backdrop, the courtyard is protected, the buildings attractive (including church and fountains) and the whole place is overrun with roses. A rose-lover’s club have adopted the gardens and planted hundreds of different roses (there is a detailed catalogue) throughout the property – in formal gardens, up and over walls and around herb gardens. There is a soothing labyrinth, beautiful trees and an impressive paeony collection as well as a geranium market each spring. In the small enclosures you will find sheep and horses grazing peacefully, while guests stroll around, some with dogs, or long-distance riders tie their horses up in the rings provided while they go for lunch… it really is all very idyllic! The best exhibition I ever saw here was that on local artist Adolf Dietrich, who you may never have heard of. He was from Berlingen, just over the hill on Lake Constance, and was a celebrated Swiss artist… I find his pictures delightful – lots of local colour! The garden across the road from his window has been recreated according to the painting…