The venue is truly magical and inspiring. This raw XIII century palais is perfect for both laboratory and experimental work as well as socialising and general merriment – bonfires, a lake, incredible nature, a bit of agritourism and much much more.
Jim and Anna Parton are years into a 15 (?) year restoration project and there is always some work going on. They often have creatives come for their residential workshops. This is what the couple have to say about their place:
The house dates from around 1300, but with a rebuild every 100 years or so, it’s hard to say which bit was built when. Architectural historians and archaeologists love the questions this building asks, and we don’t yet have all the answers. There are frescoes, glorious Renaissance painted ceilings, and sgraffito (a plaster technique). The working chapel (it’s the village church, Mass twice a week) has an impressive baroque altar-piece, recently restored.
In 2012, our on-going restoration was short-listed for a prestigious Europa Nostra/European Union Award for the Protection of Cultural Heritage (the only Polish project so honoured). There is still work in progress, so we didn’t win. Nonetheless, we are proud of getting close, and we love to talk about our Big House Project with guests.
… Recently discovered is a stunning and important painted ceiling in the ballroom, unique in Poland, dating from 1620. The chapel has artefacts from that date too, and still serves as the village church, the only such private chapel in Silesia, and an impressive baroque altar, just restored. A picture on the ballroom ceiling of Queen Elizabeth of Bohemia, “The Winter Queen” suggests she may have visited in 1620, when it’s known she went to nearby Nysa with her husband Frederick V of Bohemia. Elizabeth, daughter of James I of England, and VI of Scotland, was a Stuart.
During Polish communist times the house was used by five families from the local collective farm, but was badly neglected. Only since Anna and I started rescuing it from dereliction in 2007 has its beauty more become apparent. Conservation work continues, we think we are 8 years into a 15 year restoration, so be prepared for a little restoration work going on around you. If you are lucky, your visit might co-incide with work by a skilled conservationist.
Set in a private park with magnificent, mature trees, a grass tennis court and swimming pond (skating in winter), the surrounding countryside is glorious, with both flat and steep terrain for cycling, the Sudety Mountains for hiking (skiing in winter), museums, adventure activities. Nearby is one of Europe’s longest zip-wire and tree top agility courses. On the Czech side just 5 km away are 60 km of prepared mountain bike trails for experts to beginners. You can rent a top of the range mountain bike. There are some interesting small towns. And some wonderful swimming holes in old quarries.
Depending on the time of year, there may be organic vegetables from our garden available, and our chickens usually produce enough eggs for us to share. We can buy local honey, unpasteurised milk, butter, venison, wild boar. We can order home-made bacon or sausages from a man in the village. We make jams and traditional pickles. Our chickens, geese, turkeys, guinea fowl and sheep wander where they want. Our turkey is a different experience from anything you will buy in a shop.
There are plenty of action-adventure activities nearby, but the house is quiet, ideal for winding down from City stress. We find that many of our guests do a lot of sleeping. It is an unusually peaceful place. Our new guest flats – two of them, with fully equipped kitchens – are beautiful, and give you a sense of history when you stay, with exposed stonework, and old wooden beams. They have efficient, ecological modern wood burning stoves for winter heat. We burn our own wood.
Children love it here too. We have six, and they are so lucky to be growing up here.
Arguably, this the finest private house in Opolski Silesia. We do our best to preserve as much of the ancient fabric as possible. We are very proud of it and want to show it off. Not all the work is finished, and so this is an opportunity to see craftsmen at work on an important historic building. There is occasional disruption, but we always try not to inconvenience guests
The region is soft and scenic, there’s lots to do, good horses on the Czech side, skiing too, and cycling terrain both for serious athletes and mountain bikers and flat ground for people who don’t want anything too strenuous. There are some great natural swimming holes. Our own park is lovely and of course we are very proud of our house
As a side business, we also restore old cars in one of the barns. Old car people love it here. But if your newer car is looking scruffy, now’s the time to have the paintwork fixed at a fraction of the price you’d pay in Germany or the UK. We are starting other “micro-industries.” We sell some antiques. And we can make interesting commissions out of metal or wood if you have ideas. We have an upcycling business making things out of scrap metal. Sometimes our guests like them so much they buy them!
In the ballroom is an excellent Yamaha grand piano, the best instrument in the region and much loved by our visiting musicians. The room has a good acoustic for all sorts of music making and we often hold concerts there.
- No smoking inside
- This is a family home not a hotel. Relax, and don’t be too demanding! Well mannered people don’t need to be told a set of rules, so we have none, apart from no smoking in the rooms.
- We have small children, who speak English and Polish, a dog who barks – but never bites, three sheep and a cat. If you bring a dog, your dog must not chase the chickens and geese
- You will have your own kitchen, access to a washing machine and so on, your own private space. There are also four hectares (10 acres) of grounds.
You can keep yourselves to yourselves, but we’re friendly helpful people too, and very proud of what we have achieved in the rescue of this important, historic old house, and keen to share our enthusiasm for it.