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Roskilde Convent

Dominican monks, or Black Friars, originally established a monastery where Roskilde Convent is located today.


In 1536 the king, who owned the property, like all other church property, ordered the buildings to be razed. The building materials were piled on the land and sold off little by little. Nothing was erected on the plot again until 1565 when Lord Mogens Godske built a manor house out of the remaining materials after being given the land by the king. Today, this structure, the oldest in Roskilde, is the convent’s main building and is still inhabited.

In 1699 the manor was purchased by the widows of two noblemen, Berte Skeel and Margrethe Ulfeldt, who proceeded to found Roskilde Convent as a home for young unmarried noblewomen who had not married at a suitable age.
Over the years, the convent has housed various dignitaries, such as writer and historian Ingeborg Buhl.

Ingeborg Buhl (nr. 3 from left) with other women of the convent.

During the occupation of Denmark when the convent’s finances were severely strained, the board considered giving up and closing it down. The noblewomen still had servants and received their fine meals from the convent’s kitchen. Asserting her will, Ingeborg Buhl suggested each resident do her own cooking and cleaning and small kitchens were installed in each apartment to allow them to do so, thus putting the convent back on a sound financial footing.

In 1974, however, Roskilde Convent was merged for financial reasons with a similar convent in Odense founded by Karen Brahe in 1716.

The convents great hall.

Today, Roskilde Convent is an independent foundation that provides information about the value of the site’s architectural and cultural heritage, in addition to providing housing for both men and women.


Romance in the convent

Did you know that the noble maiden Helle Trolle lived in Roskilde Convent for unmarried noblewomen with other maidens who had failed to marry at a suitable age? These noblewomen lived in the convent so their families could avoid paying a dowry or sharing the family inheritance.

Helle Trolle was deeply in love with a young officer who promised to marry her when he returned from the war in Schleswig. She wrote him letters from under the large beech tree in the convent garden, sending him money from her allowance. In fact, she used up her entire fortune and more.

Prepared to leave, Helle Tolle’s adventure ended when she learned the young officer was engaged to someone else, forcing her to spend the rest of her days at the convent. They say that, to this day, she can be heard sobbing late at night.

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