Dueholm Monastery


Dueholm Monastery - the manor | Dueholm Monastery - the museum

History of Dueholm Monastery

Dueholm Monastery was founded in 1370. It belonged to the Order of St John, which emerged from the violent events of the medieval crusades in the Middle East. Following the first crusade to Jerusalem in 1099, there was a need for someone responsible for the sick and injured, which became the purpose of the Order of St John, who also offered shelter for pilgrims and other Christian travellers to the Holy Land. Because of its significance within the church during the later crusades, a military branch of the order was established. This was an expensive development, and so the order built monasteries with hospitals throughout Europe, to finance the crusades through their medical services.

During the 12th to 14th centuries, the Order of St John established six monasteries in Denmark, the latest of which being Dueholm on Mors. According to a papal letter from 1445, the land, on which Dueholm Monastery was built, was given to the Order of St John by Bishop Svend of Børglum. The monastery included buildings for the hospital, church, housing for the monks, and storage for agricultural tools and products.

The main purpose of the monastery was the hospital, as the best source of income was the medical service. There was also a financial advantage in the sale of prime burial plots inside the church, of which there were many, as the church was roughly the size of Aarhus Cathedral. Only the very wealthy could afford those burial sites.

At some point in the 15th century, the monks built a watermill by the creek that ran past the monastery complex. What is left of the mill today, forms the western half of the main building of the museum. Part of the brickwork of the old housing complex has been used in the walls of the manor dairy, which now houses the special exhibits, and the archive. Of the other monastic building, only the foundations remain, but they have been mapped fairly well through archaeological excavations.

After the Reformation in 1536, the monastery complex became property of the king. King Christian III owed money to various nobles, and he used Dueholm as collateral on a loan he could not repay. In 1539, Dueholm was passed on to the nobleman, Niels Lange. The monks were allowed to stay at the monastery complex, but were prohibited from accepting new members into the order. In 1561, the hospital burned down and was not restored.

Dueholm Monastery as a manor

Niels Lange took over the monastery complex, monks and all, in 1539. He chose to let the monks stay, and instead moved into the watermill. The mill itself had been closed, and the machinery moved to a new mill closer to the fiord. The old mill had been expanded eastwards, and was in 1539 a beautiful and distinctive building, situated in the countryside just outside Nykøbing. It was a manor house worthy of a nobleman, and it is now the main building of the museum.

Frederik II, son of Christian III, finally managed to pay the debt to Niels Lange in 1585, and thus Dueholm was returned to the crown, and a royal vassal was installed at the manor. The monastery complex then began to decay, which continued despite changing occupants until the 18th century. The decay culminated during the period 1627-29, when German mercenaries occupied Dueholm. The monastery complex was in such a state of disrepair when the Germans left, that it was barely possible to save it. Most of the buildings, as well as parts of the church, were demolished (the rest of the church was demolished in 1838). Through his appointed vassal, the king built a small estate, with manor house, livestock stables, barn, and other smaller buildings. The former hospital was rebuilt and used as cargo office, parlour, and dairy.

In the 18th century, Dueholm was once again ravaged by war, and a continuous string of owners failed to restore the estate. 1732 was a landmark year, as Ander Christensen Tøttrup leased, and later bought, Dueholm from Højriis Manor. The Tøttrup family managed the estate well for three generations, but the fourth generation did not possess the same luck or skills. From 1845 onwards, Dueholm had various owners. In the 1890s, Nykøbing was expanding, and Dueholm no longer functioned as an estate. The manor lands were needed for the growing population of Nykøbing. In 1897, the last lord of the manor left Dueholm, and at the same time, he sold all the agricultural tools at auction. Around 350 years of manor history had come to an end.

Dueholm Monastery as a Museum

Estate speculators and city planners reworked the area around the manor house in the following years. The agricultural buildings were demolished, the manor gardens were abandoned, and the land was parcelled out. All that remained of the monastery complex or the manor period, was the manor house, the Cavalier wing, remnants of a barn, and the dairy building, all of which dated to the monastic period. These building still exist.

The demolition plans included the manor house, as there was a wish to connect Dueholmgade with Grønnegade. However, the citizens of Nykøbing had founded a museum in 1901, the Morslands Historical Museum, which was temporarily located at the technical college. The museum was looking for more suitable premises, and Dueholm Monastery was the obvious choice.

The museum bought the manor house in 1909. The building was renovated, with the western half decorated for exhibits, and the eastern half refurbished as an apartment for the museum curator. The museum opened its new doors to the public in October 1909.

In 1925, the curator’s apartment was redecorated for exhibitions. In the 1930s and 40s, the former manor house was thoroughly renovated, restoring it to its medieval origins. The exhibits were also renewed, and one of them, the church room, is still open to visitors today.

The Cavalier wing, located next to the main building, was purchased by the museum in 1951. It was built sometime in the 18th century. The other buildings, which presently belong to the museum, were acquired in the 1980s and 90s.  



Dueholm Monastery

Dueholmgade 9

7900 Nykøbing Mors

Phone: +45 97723421

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