A 700-Year Legacy: The History of a Small German-Polish Border Town

The grand entrance.

The grand entrance.

A protected heritage site, The Palace at Osowa Sien and its historical park persevere as an architectural reference point for the height of the burgeoning countryside society of once-upon-a-time.

A feat of engineering, innovation, and design – it reflects the vision and hard work of Germans and Poles alike. Combining neo-classical, romantic, and gothic elements – it projects grandeur and eclecticism, commanding the attention of many a passer-by – past and present.

But it hasn’t always presided over the agrarian landscape of Osowa Sien; nor has it continually gone by that name.

This town was originaly founded as Rudegeri Villa in 1325; so-called after its premier German-inhabitant – Rüdiger – who settled the rural Poznan outcropping.  Not one to roll off the tongue with relative ease, it quickly became known to Germanic residents as Rüdigersdorf and was later refined further into a simpler Röhrsdorf

Rather whimsically, the current name of Osowa Sien could be interpreted as under the aspens but despite the alluring forest nearby, it’s got a more colourful etymology.

Osowa Sien entered into local lexicon during the 15th century when the distinguished noble family Ossowski of Poznan began to count this acreage among their personal domain. Royally awarded, they held title for one of three separate manors here in addition to neighboring pastoral vistas. 

In some way, each of these magnificent properties continues to characterize the township as their legacy lives on through classicist and baroque-era evolutions of their original manor houses. All three, palace included, are to be considered lasting monuments to the respective effort and vision of their particular landowners who developed the estates of Osowa Sien: Ossowski, Zychlinski, and Schlichting were some of the names more commonly associated among them.

But, let’s return our focus to the noble family who now shares their legacy (and name) with this castle and the town around it.

The Ossowski’s, defining characters in their own right, expanded their notoriety during the late 16th century from these lands outside of Poznan to the beyond. Some pushed north towards Lithuania during the peak of the Polish-Lithuanian Union and others eventually moved in the direction of present day Germany. Though, it’s believed that there were those who still felt obliged to forge deeper roots in the area around present-day Osowa Sien; the town of their namesake.

von Brandenstein & von Seherr-Thoss: Lasting Impressions

With marriage - names easily change - yet it’s understood that the author Leonie Ossowski, whose books have inspired the guest suites of the palace proper, can trace her lineage back to this land for hundreds of years. 

Her name as most know it is a passion-filled pseudonym, taken in honor of those generations who came before her and for whom Osowa Sien is named after now (as well as in periods prior).

Born within these castle walls to Ruth and Lothar von Brandenstein in 1925; her family inherited the castle a short time prior. Although they didn’t build the palace themselves, they certainly left their mark on it; in many ways, they contributed a sort of enthusiasm to it and the town around them that was undeniable.  

Fanciful parties, roaring laughter; a bustling distillery, and fully-functioning creamery were just some of the enterprises under the von Brandenstein-belt in Osowa Sien during the roaring 20s.

It’s fair to say that the municipality and these historic grounds enjoyed a good portion of their so-called hay-day during this saga (1920s-1940s).

But, they themselves were relatively youthful castellans, starting a family of their own and getting settled into this historical scape.

Tied to generations of landowners here before them, they acquired The Palace at Osowa Sien in 1919/1920 as the result of it having been passed down from the von Seherr-Thoss family.

Portraits of Anna and Eugene remain in the great hall within The Palace at Osowa Sien.

Portraits of Anna and Eugene remain in the great hall within The Palace at Osowa Sien.

While here, they worked to develop the estate in a way that reflected their personal style and entrepreneurialism as well as the creative flairs stemming from the women in the family.

To this day, the von Brandenstein vision remains intact. “There really wasn’t any debate regarding our desire to create a boutique B&B with a Gatsby flare richly imbued,” Matty says. “The underlying style that we wish to embrace and restore here is that of the 30s and the modernization that the palace saw under the care and tenancy of the von Brandenstien family.” 

And so once again, the grand doors of The Palace at Osowa Sien will open to entertain guests from far and wide – this time, astounding them with an assortment of comfortable lodgings, cultured wine tastings, and private events to call their own.

Editor - A.Tyree
Text  / Photography J.Patterson

Get inspired by life at the place, featured in the Gallery. For the especially curious; take a look at the guestrooms here.