Kloster Ebstorf – The Convent at Bad Bevensen near Ebstorf
Approximately an hour’s drive south from Hamburg between Lüneburg, Uelzen and Soltau the visitor will find a beautiful convent from the 14th century, built of bricks. The convent is one of six famous monasteries located at or nearby the Lüneburger Heide. The layout is dominated by large spacious buildings and an 800-year old wall. Today the massive building complex holds an evangelical convent of women offering a place for quiet contemplation. In order to be accepted as a member you have to be alone (widow, divorced or just not-married) and willing to take part in the daily life focusing on the common morning-prayer. The women live in two-room apartments, each fitted out with a bathroom and small kitchen. During summer (April to October) it is possible to visit the convent daily and see the beautiful brick-layered buildings from the 14th century.
The monastery was – according to a late-medieval chronicle – founded between 1148 and 1167 by a count Walrad and his wife Gerburg. This Walrad can be identified as Volrad von Bodwede, nearby Bode. It is believed the abbey was founded as part of a plan to erect a comital funeral church. The abbey functioned as the Priory of Saint Maurice for the Premonstratensian Canons Regular and was probably founded as part of a missionary initiative from Magdeburg (hence its dedication to St. Mauritius)
The monastery is mentioned for the first time in 1197. It belongs to the group of so-called Lüneklöstern (monasteries of Lüne), which became Lutheran convents following the Protestant Reformation. After a fire in the 13th century the house was given to the Benedictine nuns of Walsrode Abbey who established a daughter house there, and Ebstorf became a place of Marian pilgrimage.
The buildings of the now-nunnery dates from the 14th century and were built in the North German Brick Gothic style. They are fully preserved today, as is the church, which still has the raised nun’s gallery. The house of the provost dates to the 15th century. In the 15th century the life of the nuns changed, as a result of their being placed under the reforming program of the newly established Bursfelde Congregation, that demanded a stricter way of life. However, from 1524 the Duke of Welf, Ernest the Confessor from Celle converted the monastery to a Lutheran convent. This year he sent the nuns a copy of the Luther Bible. However, the nuns burned it publicly and continued to withstand the pressure to convert. It took until 1559 to change its denomination.
It is currently one of several Lutheran convents maintained by the Monastic Chamber of Hanover (Klosterkammer Hannover), an institution of the former Kingdom of Hanover founded by its Prince-Regent, later King George IV of the United Kingdom, in 1818, in order to manage and preserve the estates of Lutheran convents. It is now maintained as an institution of Hanover’s successor state of Lower Saxony.
The abbey is famous for the Ebstorf Map, a mappa mundi from the 13th century. The original was burned during a bombing raid in 1943 on Hanover. However a faithful copy of the original can be seen in the monastery. Other points of interest are the medieval stained glass windows in the choir of the nuns and the statues of the Virgin Mary in the cloisters which date from the 13th to 15th centuries plus a figure of Saint Maurice, the patron saint of the house, a baptismal font dating from 1310 and a pulpit built in 1615. In addition there a various medieval chests and cupboards.
Kirchplatz 10 29574
Phone + 05822-2304
Ein Rundgang durch Kloster Ebstorf. Einführender Text von Michael Wolfson, Aufnahmen von Jutta Brüdern.
Series: Die Blauen Bücher Langewiesche 2002
By Sibylle Appuhn-Radtke
DKV-Kunstführer Nr. 176, 12. Auflage
München/Berlin: Deutscher Kunstverlag (1996) 2002