Eistvere Manor is a mysterious place of which I had no prior knowledge. When we first laid out our pilgrimage route and arrived at the place we did not notice anything special. In the middle of the park there were the ruins of a manor house, a nicely restored storehouse and beyond there were some tidy buildings. On inquiry we learned some fascinating facts about history and the present-day activities!
Eistvere Manor was mentioned already in 1558. In 1776–1939 the manor belonged to the von zur Mühlen family. The last lord of Eistvere Manor was Victor Moritz Karl von zur Mühlen. The one-storeyed manor house with a half-hipped roof was built in the late 18th century and it fell into ruin in the Soviet time in the 1960s, when the manor house was used to accommodate workers of the local collective farm.
The manor became famous because of Victor von zur Mühlen’s wife Hermynia zur Mühlen. In her autobiographical memoir entitled End und Anfang (1929, Estonian translation published by the Loomingu Raamatukogu Nos. 48–51,1981) she described her life in Eistvere Manor. Hermynia, who was of aristocratic birth, had wished, starting from her childhood, to part with all the rights and privileges of her station and later veered towards Marxism. She happened to come to Estonia and married the Lord of Eistvere Manor Victor von zur Mühlen in 1908. The marriage broke up for ideological reasons and Hermynia zur Mühlen left Estonia in 1914.
In the 1930s Victor von zur Mühlen was known as a sympathiser of National-Socialism, he had met Adolf Hitler and supported the idea of National-Socialist Estonia. When the manorial estates were nationalised, Victor von zur Mühlen retained more land than the others as he had a good pedigree herd. The farmers were able to buy calves from his herd for themselves. In winter 1939 Victor von zur Mühlen left Eistvere for Germany taking his pedigree herd with him.
In 1939 the Pilistvere farmers had a plan to establish a two-year agricultural college at Eistvere, but this was not realised. Time ran out.
Today’s Eistvere is a beautiful place with a lovely lake. The ruins in the middle of the park are, in a way, romantic, the restored storehouse has become a cosy gathering place where seminars are held and lodging is offered (six rooms, twelve beds). The place is managed by Merike Touart, of NGO Eistvere Manor, who is also active in Eistvere Village Society.
A little farther there are houses for hunters. There is a lake that gives the place a romantic atmosphere. It is created by the rivulets of Eistvere and Raudoja when they join at the upstream the Navesti River. The place that is now flooded used to be a marshy meadow on the banks of the Navesti River, covered with brush and trees of little value. The reservoir was built by the ameliorators led by Väino Touart in the late 1980s. Fishermen may be happy as the lake abounds in rudd, crucian carp, tench, carp, roach, and other fish.
An old path leads from the eastern shore of the lake to Pilistvere. This old path is a blessed thing for a pilgrim, as many generations before us have trodden it while going to church. It was not as easy to find the path, though. We asked and looked for it and could not find it until Mati Hõbemägi whom we met last autumn – and many thanks to him – showed us the way. About a couple of kilometres the path is clearly visible, but then it almost disappears. It leads straight to the old churchyard at Pilistvere.
Accommodation available at Eistvere:
NGO Eistvere Manor contact: email@example.com tel. 5013370
Lagle Parek, 2016