British Residents’ Association of Switzerland


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Welcome / Past Events / All Past Events / Central Region / BAUERNMUSEUM ALTHUUS, FERENBALM IN JERISBERGHOF

A group of BRA Members lunched together in Kerzers and then enjoyed a guided visit to the nearby Althuus farming museum.

The ‘Althuus’ (‘Old House’), built in 1703, is the oldest structure in the small hamlet of Jerisberghof above Kerzers. Initially there was just a single smallholding here, but now there are four large farms. Together with its storehouse or Spycher (built in 1725), the building has become a small museum located in a lively farming community. This effectively illustrates the development of agriculture in Switzerland, representing how people farmed in the 18th and 19th centuries. All the farmers working this land today are in some way connected with the Bucher dynasty that has its roots in the ‘Althuus’. Indeed, one descendant, Ernst Bucher, still lives in the small ‘Stöckli’, the smaller house attached to a new building (the old farmhouse having burnt down in the 1980s).

The Althuus has not been inhabited since the construction of the Statthalterhof farmhouse nearby in 1836 and for a long time its sole value was as a place for storing unwanted objects. Lengthy restoration work on the building has created a museum that shows visitors what farming life was like several hundred years ago. Explanatory texts in each room describe the typical lives of the many different categories of people who would have lived here. Many of these texts are available in German, French and English.

Our guide, Anna-Barbara Etter, is one of a small group of dedicated volunteers who have done much in recent years to make a visit to this authentic farmhouse truly informative. Indeed, it transpired that she had herself made the life-size figures that help to tell the story of the former inhabitants and had even wrested with the coils of straw that, when assembled, made the domed beehive which is included amongst the exhibits in the vast roof space of the barn section of the Althuus.

We began by touring the farmhouse itself, admiring the original artefacts that include a potato-grinding gadget to produce starch, an ironing device for the starched fronts of shirts and blouses as well as a wire mousetrap on the ‘Hohe Kante’ ceiling beam in the snug. We climbed up from the small kitchen into the spacious attics and toured a display that illustrates the production of linen from plant to cloth. Finally, we visited the free-standing Spycher where supplies of grain, special clothing for feast days, valuables and important documents were kept safe from fire.

To complete our tour, we were able to sit or stand in the shade of tall trees, regaling ourselves with some Speckkuchen and refreshing drinks of local wine or apple juice – all particularly welcome on a very hot day.

Kathleen Mere