Gisselfeld, a former monastery,[1] is Denmark's fifth-largest estate. Located between Haslev and Næstved, it extends into several municipalities but the main building is located in Braaby Parish in Faxe Municipality. The estate measures 3,850 hectares, including Hesede, Edelesminde, Brødebæk and Gødstrupgård, of which 2,400 hectares is forest. The three-storeyed Renaissance-style building has stepped gables, loopholes and a projecting tower over the main gate. The grounds include a moat,[2] a well-kept park, lake, waterfall, gardens, greenhouse, and a fountain.[3]


Gisselfeld is Denmark's fifth-largest land estate, covering an area of 3,850 hectares. It is set in a scenic forested environment in an area of lakes and hills. It was known for its wildlife and organic farming until ownership legally changed hands in 1996. Subsequently organic farming was discontinued and replaced by logging of the forests. The hunting grounds have been leased out.[1][4][5]

The property was surrounded by moats on three sides, the gårdsø (estate lake) flanking the north side.[6] Water spouts from the four frogs that embellish a fountain on the property.[3]


Gisselfeld is first mentioned at the end of the 14th century when the owner was Bo Falk. At that time, there was a small manor situated some 2 km northwest of the site of today's main building. It stood next to an older fort, possibly the now demolished Valgestrup. Today's estate was founded by Peder Oxe til Nielstrup who built the manor from 1547 to 1575. It originally consisted of four interconnected red-brick wings, three storeys high with thick outer walls, a number of loopholes and large stepped gables. A protruding gate tower stands at the centre of the left wing. The fourth wing, now demolished, housed a chapel.[6]

After Peder Oxe's death, his widow Mette Rosenkrantz til Vallø became the owner of the estate. After her death in 1588, her niece Karen Banner inherited Gisselfeld. She married Henrik Lykke til Overgaard whose family ran the estate until Kai Lykke was executed and relieved of all his rights in 1661. After a short period of ownership by the Crown, in 1670 the property was presented to Count Hans Schack as a reward for the part he played in the Swedish wars. In 1688, his son Otto Diderik sold the estate to Adam Levin Knuth whose family maintained ownership until 1699 when Christian V's illegitimate son took it over. As a result of his will, on his death in 1703 the manor should have become a convent but this did not happen until the death of his widow Dorothea Krag in 1754 extinguished her dower rights. Since 1755, under the name of Danneskiold-Samsøe his descendants have run the estate as "Gisselfeld Adelige Jomfrukloster I Sjælland" (Gisselfeld Convent in Zealand for Virgins of Noble Birth). The 11th in line, Hele Danneskiold-Samsøe, has run Gisselfeld since 2010.[6]

In the seventeenth century Gisselfeld was within consecutive Birks,[7] so had separate legal jurisdiction from Bråby Sogn (Braaby Parish) and old Ringsted Herred (hundred). Special inheritance laws were enacted in 1701 and 1702 that define the inheritance laws of the castles and estates, promulgated by Christian Gyldenløwe (Golden Lion), son of the Danish King Christian V. Under this law, the present Count of Gisselfeld was the director of the estate and ran this estate until 1996 when a new Board was instituted by the Ministry of Justice and the Directorate of Civil Rights. This change was challenged by the Count, and became a well-publicized legal case.[5]



  1. 1 2 Andersen, Hans Christian (1926). Hans Andersen: The True Story of My Life. Taylor & Francis. pp. 169–. GGKEY:WJ6W83YLX6Y. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
  2. Schlanbusch, Anna Grete (1951). Tourist in Denmark: Travel Guide. Politikens forlag. p. 115. Retrieved 30 April 2013. ...moated on all sides...
  3. 1 2 Chowder, Ken (8 August 1993). "Storied Danish Manors". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 May 2013.
  4. "The Fight for Gisselfeld:English Summary". Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  5. 1 2 3 "Gisselfeld Kloster", Maskinstationen og Landbrugslederen, July 2011, pages 32–35. (Danish) Retrieved 1 May 2013.
  6. da:Birk (retskreds)
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Coordinates: 55°17′20″N 11°58′14″E / 55.28889°N 11.97056°E / 55.28889; 11.97056

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