Kanton in the Royal Domain of Drottningholm
Kanton, established by King Adolf Fredrik and Queen Lovisa Ulrika in the 18th century, is a flowery avenue with around ten seemingly idyllic wooden houses. However in reality, a manufacturing industry was conducted inside the walls of these houses.
During the 18th century, wistful glances are cast upon imported luxury items from China. In the small houses of Kanton, silk, stockings and lace are manufactured for the court, but also rifles and beautiful iron works for the Chinese Pavilion.
Ideal factory community
If you had been walking along that tidy gravel road in Kanton 300 years ago and felt the aroma of the smoke coming from the forge and the flowers in the gardens, you would note that all of the houses that were lined up side by side followed a certain colour code. Here in the vicinity of Drottningholm one wanted to give the impression of stone houses and hence all of the houses were painted in light colours. Today the houses have been repainted several times, so all of them are still not in their original colour, however photos from the late 19th century hint that Kanton glowed in its light shades.
During the 18th century there was a very clear symmetry in how the houses were placed in Kanton, although that would eventually change as several houses were either moved or demolished. The closer in history we get to contemporary times the more this original symmetry that existed in Kanton in the 18th century is recreated when houses are once again moved.
The silk mill in Kanton
Silk was something very exclusive, and naturally it had to be manufactured in Lovisa Ulrika’s very own little industrial community. She hired Chinese experts and grew mulberry trees where she bred her own silkworms. The technique of extracting silk thread from the silk worm’s cocoon has been used in China for 5000 years and there was a wide spread fascination with Chinese art and technique in Sweden in the 18th century. One of the first factories in Kanton had as its task to weave ribbons and socks from the queen’s own silk production, and much of the finished material went to the court itself.
The dream of a very own little model community where items for the court could be manufactured at a comfortable distance only lasted for around ten years. Large parts of the manufacturing was shut down and turned into residential homes instead. The houses in Kanton have been renovated and rebuilt a number of times through the years by all of the tenants that resided along the small street during the 19th and 20th century. Most tenants only lived in their houses during the summer.
Coffee gatherings and gardening
Starting in the first decades of the 19th century, a lot of employees from the royal court lived in Kanton. After her husband had passed away, a widow was often allowed to continue living there for the rest of her life, as a form of pension. There was no shortage of widows along the street. A little house with a garden is not a bad pension.
Kanton is a part of the world heritage
Drottningholm Palace with its surroundings is since 1991 on the Unesco World Heritage List, which means that it is also internationally classified as very valuable from a cultural historical point of view. It is a part of the world heritage called the Royal Domain of Drottningholm.
The house has been a residential home since it was built in 1750, unlike many of the other buildings in Kanton. Shortly after the house was completed, Groom of the Chamber Schildkneckt moved into the house. In 1781 the house was given to opera singer Christopher Karsten and his family remained there until 1870, when castle architect Axel Nyström moved into the beautiful building. In 1890 the district veterinarian Holmgren and his family moved in and Mrs. Holmgren was permitted to borrow the house from Gustav V up until her death in 1954.
In 1777 one of the 18th century’s more exotic characters, “Blackamoor Badin”, moved into Kanton 2. At the age of 10 he was given as a gift to Lovisa Ulrika by the Danish Counsellor of State Reiser and she allowed him to grow up as a child in the royal house. As he got older Badin was given the house for life. When Badin had come and gone, Kanton 2 was given to financial director Grill.
Before Badin moved into it, the house from 1762 was a rifle and hunting servant’s accommodation with a dog kennel behind the house.
Kanton 3 was built around 1760 as a lace factory, and for many years the foreign workers that had been hired worked diligently. The workers knew what they were doing and were very skilled. Two catholic girls from Brabant managed the work with lace fabrics and many poor young girls were given the task of manufacturing them for a daily allowance.
In 1980 it was discovered that Kanton 3 was in very bad shape. The solution was to tear down the old building and rebuild a copy of the original house. One was able to save a few shutters though and use them for the new house, which was finished in 1987.
This house first held a weaving workshop and later a rifle factory. In the volume “Kanton by Drottningholm”. A model community for manufactories from the 18th century”, it says that No. 4 used to be a weaving mill but changed into a rifle factory temporarily during the 1760’s. The house is probably one of the earliest erected house from around 1760, but what its function was is unclear.
It might be also be a house that was erected on the same spot as the relocated weaving mill. What was built instead may have been constructed from older material, which was common.
In 1826 the building was in such poor shape that it was condemned. It was suggested that it be rented out in exchange for maintenance duties or “removal”. The house that was torn down in the 20th century indicates early 19th century architecture in photographs, and it is possible that it replaced the condemned building.
In the 1940’s, Kanton 4 was taken down and rebuilt again. A foundation was laid and the house was placed closer to the road, keeping in line with the other houses along the street. Its interior was also rebuilt.
Socks for the royal court was manufactured in Kanton 5. Although from 1777 this was the home of a gun smith named Nusbaum. Later on he moved and turner Gorke’s wife, who by this time was widowed, could move into Kanton 5.
Kanton 5 was one of the houses that was moved around throughout time. In 1940 the house stood across from Kanton 6 but one year later it moved to the location where Kanton 5 is at today. During the move Kanton 5 was given a proper upgrade, with among other things a new basement.
Kanton 6 became a factory building at an early stage, and was initially an embroidery workshop. Later on the activities in the house changed into carpentry. Valet Pappilon was allowed to live in the house during the early 19th century and after his passing his widow was given the house for life.
The house was erected in the beginning of the 1760’s as a part of the manufactory operations. It was described in the building listing from 1777 as “two houses for hunters to dwell in”. The yard was used for the hunting dog.
In 1813 a widow named Happe lived in this house. She had been given it for life after her late husband Happe, who had worked as a gardener in the parks at Drottningholm. Widow Happe had access to several different buildings, among others a wash-house, cow barn, feeding house, tool house, a house for the swans and a small shed. The Widow Happe also had a small, beautiful garden.
Place on map
- Year of Construction:
- 18th century