History behind Engevik Gaard...


The beautiful official’s estate Engevik enjoys a sheltered location by the fjord, half­way to Sævareid in Fusa. This officers residence from the early 1700s provides us with a close- up of the crown servants position and standing in the local community towards the end of the period of absolutism in the Kingdom of Denmark­Norway. In 1724 the owner, Lieutenat­Colonel Christian Willem Segelcke, bought the farm to be his residence as commanding officer of the northern Sunnhordland Infantry Company. He was later promoted to major­general and served in Copenhagen, not spending to much time at Engevik. Segelcke erected his own buildings a bit north of the old farm complex, with a large and elegant main building. After his death in 1763, his son, Major Hartvig Carl Philip Segelcke, the commandant of Vardøhus Fortress in Finn mark, took over the property. The main building burnt down in 1769, and the following year the major built another, slightly smaller, on the same site, in the characteristic Bergen classical style with a half- hipped roof. It is the building we see today.

The next owner, Lieutenat Knut Nyegaard – son of a rural sheriff from Takvam in Hauser – was the major’s son­ in­ law one of the rare examples of someone climbing the social ladder from the farming classes. Early in the 1800s, under Nyegaard’s strict but able management, the complex took it’s present form. The main building is inspired by the bourgeois social milieu of Bergen itself, and originally had a symmetrical baroque garden surrounded by a white picket­fence. The other buildings belong to the farmers’ own school of architecture – larder­house, kitchen building, hearth­house, smithy, woodshed, seahouse and boathouses – an authentic historical milieu.

The Crown Servant

Christian Wilhelm Segelcke was the second generation of a German officer’s family in the service of the Dano­Norwegian Crown. It was the deliberate policy of the Absolutist kings to weaken the political power of the old Danish nobility by using immigrant specialists in the public administration ­ Germans in Danmark and Danes in Norway. Segelcke was promoted to major­general and regimental commander, witch posts he hed until his death at the age og 81 in 1763.

The Crown Servant and the local community

There was an impassable barrier between the official class and the farmers. The crown servant class ( civil officials, military officers and priests) represented an alien culture imposed on the Norwegian local community. The social gulf permitted little or no intercourse between crown servants and ordinary villagers, and the official recidence constituted social and cultural “enclaves” within the peasant community. The crown servant class represented an Europeanelite culture, whose ideas of taste and style were formed by the culture of Western Europe as transmitted via education, travel and social intercourse. This is still visible in the architecture and landscape gardening preserved from that era. Engevik is no exeption. The main building from 1770 is classical, with a half­wipped roof; it is girt with an ornamental garden and a landscape garden that once boasted a summerhouse, saluting guns and probably a goldfish pond. The residence, painted white with red tiles, must have been highly visible among the grey, weatherbeaten and turf­roofed presant cottages, which must have blended more into the landscape.

The commanding officer’s estate

Segelcke chose to settle at the estate og Engevik in Strandvik parish of Os circuit. The farm was a small one, and to augment his income he invested in landed property. In 1724 he purchased the churches and ecclesiastical property throught Os. The privatisation of crown land was part of the regime’s attempt to recover its finances after a nine­year war with Sweden. Segelcke was licensed to run an inn, which was a commom officer’s sideline. Crown servants in Norway were otherwise accustomed to a more frugal existance than their colleagues in Danmark. “His Economies were not possible for me to Practise”, sighed a Danish merchant after a conversation with Segelcke.

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Engevik Gaard
5645 Sævareid

Opening hours

Open whole year by reservation only.

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951 37 348
948 39 650
56 58 33 95

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