Ellinge Castle’s history
At Ellinge Castle, the location of the present castle has had a defensive fortress in the Bråån valley since the early Middle Ages, and the site is first mentioned in the 12th century.
The earliest mentioned owner of Ellinge Castle, according to Danish archives, was Erland Galen in the early 13th century. Erland Galen was related to one of Denmark’s foremost noble families, Hvide, and had four sons, with the two older ones becoming bishops in Lund and the two younger ones becoming owners of Ellinge Castle. One of the younger sons, Jens Erlandsson, held the title of ‘gilkare’ in 1258, which meant he was the highest commander in Skåne, which was then part of Denmark.
In the 14th century, the Thott family owned Ellinge. The Thott family owned around 50 castles at this time in Denmark and Skåne.
Following the Thott family, the Danish noble family Sparre became owners of Ellinge in the early 15th century, continuing for three generations. The youngest of these, Niels Clausen Sparre, through his upbringing and relation to Sweden’s leading figures Karl Knutsson Bonde and Sten Sture the Younger, became more Swedish than Danish. He served as a councilor and governor at Elfsborg Fortress and was a very influential and self-assured man. In 1505, Niels Clausen Sparre was imprisoned, executed, and Ellinge was confiscated by the Danish state.
In the 16th century, the Krummedige family and subsequently the Bille and Brock families were owners of Ellinge. When Eske Brock passed away without children, the estate and castle passed through inheritance and exchange to the Barnekow family and through intermarriage to Hans Walkendorff (also known as Hans Lånekaka). He sold the property to Countess Margareta von Ascheberg of Wittskövle.
After further succession and intermarriage, Baron Wilhelm Bennet became the owner of Ellinge in 1724. Wilhelm Bennet was the governor of Skåne and a former major general in the army of Charles XII. The estate and castle were in a deteriorated condition when he took over, and Wilhelm Bennet demolished three of the medieval buildings within the moat, retaining only the eastern wing, which remains the main building at Ellinge to this day. He constructed a new approach to the castle from the west and restored the main building in the Swedish manor style. Wilhelm Bennet also built two detached wings in the courtyard – one for the kitchen and one as a staff residence. He also constructed the well-preserved half-timbered stable in 1732, which is used for conferences and events today.
Wilhelm Bennet’s daughter, Christina Bennet, married Count Carl-Fredrik Dücker, and the Dücker family owned Ellinge for three generations, from 1745 to 1889. During this period, the castle assumed its present appearance, with the wings in the courtyard demolished and the current wing constructed in the 1850s.
When Carl-Fredrik Dücker III passed away without children, the property was inherited by a nephew; the chief master of the royal court, Baron Fredrik Wrangel af Sauss, who was married to Ebba Piper from Sövdeborg. The Wrangel family never lived in the castle but built the Wrangel Villa on the other side of the moat in 1897. Fredrik Wrangel was succeeded by his son, Carl Gustaf Wrangel. When he passed away, the estate’s finances were in such disarray that the Wrangel family was forced to sell the property in 1950.
The buyers were the Wehtje family, an industrial family from Malmö who co-founded Skanska (Skånska Cementgjuteriet) at the end of the 19th century.
Ernst and his wife Brita conducted a complete renovation of the castle from 1954 to 1956 and then settled in the main building. Ernst’s son, Hans-Christian Wehtje, owned Ellinge from 1956 and developed the agricultural operations into a modern crop cultivation business with approximately 550 hectares of cultivated land and approximately 350 hectares of forestry.
Hans-Christian’s son, Mikael Wehtje, took over ownership of the business in 1993, which now encompasses about 1,100 hectares of agriculture and forestry, energy production, rental properties, conference and event facilities, as well as hunting arrangements.