Herberge im Kleegarten – Eisenach

History of the house

Authentic period atmosphere in this rural manor house in Hesse, reserved for real cultural heritage buffs

It’s as if the key to this magnificient half-timbered manor-farmhouse had been lost for 200 years. Everything seems in perfect shape, “as it was then” at the Herberge im Kleegarten (the Clover Garden Inn): with its broad, waxed wooden flooring, its painted interiors with decorated motifs on the walls, age-old doors with wrought iron locks, rural cupboards and dressers, not to mention the abundant furniture and day to day utensils, canopy beds, lamps, copper pans and precious glass…

The_Herberge_im_Kleegarten_Heldra_Drawing Room

Admirable wooden framework

The_Herberge_im_Kleegarten_Heldra_FacadeMost of the houses in Europe used to be constructed in the “half-timbered” style, built on a solid framework of interlocking wooden beams, capable of supporting the floors right up to the roof. This framework, laid directly on the foundation walls, thus defined the layout of the rooms and their subsequent apertures. All that remained to be done was to lay the roof tiles and fill the walls in with wattle and daub (woven lattices of wooden strips covered with a mixture of clay, straw, lime and sand) or (dried or baked) bricks, covered in plaster. The doors and interior walls, as well as the windows with their little panes of glass, completed the construction.



As such buildings were a particularly vulnerable fire risk, they were often daubed with a protective coating (moulded according to prevailing fashion) which covered them completely (making them invisible today). Some were even rebuilt in stone. Fortunately, some regions have put the spotlight on such heritage constructions. This is the case for Wanfried and the little hamlet of Heldra (baptised the most beautiful village in Hesse in 2003), whose historic houses have been recently saved from ruin by a handful of courageous heritage lovers.

The “Frank’sches Gut”


August Hermann Francke

The main body of the Herberge im Kleegarten dates back to 1621. This impressive, three-storey building was the residence of a lord of the Landgraviate of Hesse, to whom the vast agricultural lands and surrounding hilly forests belonged. There were other buildings round the courtyard: accommodation for workers, a barn and farm buildings. The manor was the family home of the famous Lutheran pastor August Hermann Francke (1663-1727), professor of theology at the university of Halle and founder of an important foundation for the religious education and accommodation of orphan children.

The_Herberge_im_Kleegarten_Heldra_von Grotthausen

Armes de la famille von Grotthausen

In 1741, the von Grotthausen family occupied the domain. This family was well introduced at court as attested by various historical documents. Most of the interior design of the manor dates from this period, particularly the fine staircase, the flagstones on the ground floor and the numerous panelled doors.

intoHistory TipThe vaulted cellar, accessible via a trapdoor, houses a wine cellar protected by metal bars and an old studded door, as if its owner feared his precious bottles might go walkabout. Wilhelm Pippart, grandfather of the current owner and author of a book on the legends of the region, used to tell his children that this was once the manor’s old prison…

Masonic symbols?

An 18th century painted panelled wall on the second floor fascinates heritage specialists with its motifs which stand out from their bluish-grey background. Between two garlands of fruit and flowers are two panels inspired by Greek mythology as well as two little pet dogs. These two cute little dogs were fashionable status attributes of upper class ladies. Experts think this décor reproduces the symbols of a (discreet) German Female masonic lodge , to which the wife of Frederick the Great used to belong.

Herberge_im_Kleegarten_Heldra_painted wall

Amazing painted panel of the 18th c., rich in symbols

Helmut and Sigrid Pippart’s passion for heritage

The_Herberge_im_Kleegarten_Heldra_restoration works

Restoration works in 2000 © Herberge im Kleegarten

In reality, this remarkable site – now a listed historical monument – was in a terribly delapidated state at the end of the 20th century.This is really thanks to Helmut and Sigrid Pippart, both doctors in Wanfried and cultural heritage enthusiasts of their region, that this venerable aristocratic mansion has regained its former lustre and period atmosphere. Their in-depth knowledge of history and traditional building techniques, the numerous specialised craftsmen whose skills they have harnessed, their impressive collection of antiques and their bubbly enthusiasm have enabled them to get a circle of volunteers involved. About twenty historic houses around Wanfried have already been rejuvenated thanks to their intervention.

The_Herberge_im_Kleegarten_Heldra_lime coatings

19 layers of lime-wash paint

The conservation work on the Herberge im Kleegarten has been recognised with various prizes, including the very prestigious 2003 Deutscher Preis für Denkmalschulz, reflecting an exemplary restoration approach in Germany. Various analyses of the old paintwork a are visible on the walls, examples of archaeological research carried out in situ. Up to 19 layers of superimposed lime-wash paint have been discovered, some decorated with delightful motifs, which have inspired the current redecoration.

A live-in museum

The_Herberge_im_Kleegarten_Heldra_Dining Room

Second floor dining-room

What is exceptional about the Herberge im Kleegarten is that it presents itself as a 19th century residence (with some 18th century nooks and crannies). Its period living spaces, olde worlde bedrooms, salons and dining rooms are all furnished with very traditional, authentic furniture and masses of objects which recall bygone ages. As guests you will spend the night (almost) alone in this grand mansion, redolent of so many souvenirs; free to wander through all the rooms and appreciate for yourselves the paintings, wrought iron features, vases and carafes, stained glass and decorated walls which bring such vitality to the building.

Herberge_im_Kleegarten_Heldra_Bed room

First owners’ original bed room, with its colourful painted décor around the stove

intoHistory TipIt was the tradition in old Central European houses to provide each door with a jutting out threshold. This mini-step (which we recommend you learn to avoid when walking round when night has fallen) is very useful as it reduces the space under the door to a minimum (and thus avoids draughts), obviating the need to level the parquet flooring over the whole surface.

Your stay at the Herberge im Kleegarten

The inn is well known throughout the region for its cuisine, which makes a point of featuring regional specialities (in particular very fine cured meats). The head chef is known for his talent but sometimes you may be lucky enough to see Dr. Pippart himself in the kitchen!


Interior of an Art Deco caravan

The rooms and restaurant are traditionally busiest from Thursday to Sunday. The other days are more relaxed (and easier to book). It is worth noting it is also possible to stay next door in the old village shop (in a more contemporary setting) or in one of the old fashioned caravans which have been furnished just like dolls’ houses (for those who like the genre). Finally, real traditional straw mattresses (Strohsacklager) have been put in the attic of the old bakery oven, to welcome globe-trotters on a tighter budget. A bathroom has been built in the garden for their use. The barn, which is very spacious, is an ideal place to organise all kinds of festive gatherings.

The_Herberge_im_Kleegarten_HeldraWell known to history buffs in Germany, the Herberge im Kleegarten has never really had to promote itself to attract the curious. If the truth be known, its owners are keen to keep themselves off the itineraries of mass tourism.Their marvellous 19th century domain is reserved for cultural heritage enthusiasts and all those who yearn for the lost charms of the countryside – far, far away from telephones, television, credit card readers and other internet networks. You have been warned!


Old door handle

Don’t be put off by the inn’s internet site, which is only available in German. The staff at reception speak enough English (and French) to answer your emails and welcome you in person!



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  • 8 historical bedrooms (and several others in the house next door, the old fashioned caravans and attic of the old bread oven in the garden)
  • Good bedding (sheets + comfortable mattress), even though the antique beds are not very large
  • Private or shared bathrooms (according to the kind of room)
  • Regional breakfast
  • Gourmet restaurant from Thursday to Sunday (and on other occasions on request)
  • Drawing rooms, meeting rooms and several pub tables, inside or on the terrace
  • Lovely gazebo for reading, overlooking the river and the beautiful wild landscape
  • Large flower garden
  • Warning: no TV, no telephone nor Wifi
  • Payment in cash only (no credit card reader in the 19th century)
  • Spoken languages: German (+ English and French)
  • 3/4 hour distant from Göttingen, Kassel and Eisenach
  • Private parking
  • Bus connection with Wanfried and the major towns in the neighbourhood
  • Families and children welcome
  • Not suitable for those with reduced mobility
  • Non-smoking interior

In the neighbourhood

  HeldraHeldra is a beautiful little hamlet to visit and walk around, as its traditional houses see to come alive and exude charm with their roughcast, wooden framework. It is difficult to believe that the Werra, a peaceful river which skirts the village, was the frontier with ”East” Germany (DDR) for forty years when the iron curtain divided Europe (see Fotoalben > Grenzbilden). [caption id="attachment_10500" align="alignleft" width="300"]Heldrastein ©[/caption] The ascension of Heldrastein, whose summit has given its name to the village, offers an extensive panorama of the region. A high tower makes it possible to admire the beautiful Thuringer forest in the distance. This will strike a chord with history buffs, because it served as an observation post for the Stasi (the communist secret police) until 1989. The town of Wanfried, a few kilometres away, will fascinate you with its half-timbered houses, some of which are real masterpieces in wood. The town hall and some of the wealthy merchants' houses are really impressive. Wanfried used to be an important port on the Werra, which linked south-west Europe to the Weser and the north of Germany. Wanfried_Germany Nearby is the town of Treffurt which is also worth a visit with its fortified 11th century castle, exceptional timbered architecture and Renaissance town hall.

Your guide


To read, watch or listen to

  The_Herberge_im_Kleegarten_HeldraTo fully appreciate the period atmosphere of the Herberge im Kleegarten, do not hesitate to enhance your stay by reading a few books (nothing beats a good historical novel to bring old stones back to life). Listening to some period music may also be a good way to transport you back in time… A few suggestions: Learning and understanding
  • Discovering Timber-Framed Buildings”, by Richard Harris Appreciate all the savoir-faire involved in traditional timber-framed buildings. This highly documented work is extremely well illustrated. The study focuses on half-timbered houses in Great Britain, but the construction methods are comparable to those in other countries
Books to be devoured in situ
  • Our Daily Bread: German Village Life, 1500-1850”, by Teva J. Scheer An interesting reconstruction of daily life in Germany from the 16th to the 19th century. The account, light-hearted and amusing, tells the story of the Mann family, against the backcloth of events of their time, from wars and power struggles to religious turmoil, how they participated in city life, their love affairs and marriages, legacies and emigration...
  • Grimm's Fairy Tales: Complete Edition”, by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm The Grimm brothers, of course. Firstly because they were both fascinated by folklore and legends and lived in Hesse, not far from Wanfried. There researches were already popular at the beginning of the 19th century, at a time when Heldra manor was particularly prosperous. And secondly, because their “Tales” are so much more than short stories for children. They are an amalgam of traditions over the ages in which are dissimulated a mixture of cultures (some very distant), all distilled in the German manner. An exploration of the recesses of the human mind, a treasure trove for psychoanalysts ...
  • Journey through Hesse” by Ernst Otto-Luthardt, Tina Herzig and Horst Herzig Discovering Hesse and its green hills, numerous castles and timber-framed towns, evoking the mystery surrounding the Tales of the Brothers Grimm. With many beautiful illustrations that bring the account to life.
  • “Der Brombeermann”, by Wilhelm Pippart (in German) A collection of legends, stories and songs from the region of Wanfried and the Werra, composed by the grandfather of the Herberge im Kleegarten’s owner (available on site).
Period music to be enjoyed on location
  • Träumerei” by Robert Schumann One of the most popular airs of the “Kinderscenen” series by the famous German composer, written in 1838. This delightful little piece – quite inspirational in its adaptation for the cello – awakens all our childhood dreams (extract).
Some of the links below will enable you to consult the recommended titles directly on If you decide to purchase one of these titles via this link, please note that intoHistory will receive a small commission on your transaction, which goes towards covering its running costs.

Guests comments

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Gery de Pierpont


Nous avons été, ma famille et moi, très impressionnés par cette très belle maison ancienne, si typique du patrimoine du centre de l'Allemagne. Son calme et sa sérénité, au milieu d'étendues de champs et de forêts, la chaleur de son ambiance, dans le confort et l'intimité de sa structure de bois, nous ont enchantés. Chaque objet ancien, gravure, coffre ou serrure, était prétexte à discussion avec les enfants.
L'endroit idéal pour s'extraire quelques jours d'une vie agitée et se retrouver "comme dans le temps" ! Ni téléphone, ni internet, ni télévision...
Dommage que les pompiers aient exigé d'aménager une colonne en maçonnerie au centre du bâtiment, avec des portes coupe-feu tout à fait en décalage avec le style si évocateur du vieux manoir... J'aurais rêvé aussi de retrouver les fenêtres d'époque, mais les boiseries n'étaient hélas plus en état d'être restaurées...

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Historical authenticity
Ambiance and settings
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17th century Manor House Inn/Hostel 60-100€/room

as in the old days

Herberge im Kleegarten Dr. und Frau Pippart Vor der Lücke 1 DE-37281 WANFRIED-HELDRA Germany +49 5655 92 34 44 Inn’s own website