The Mahtra estate, next to the Oxford Park project, is famous in Estonia for the peasant uprising against German landlords. One of the first attempts that was made by the local population to gain independence in Estonia. That independence is now developing with the Oxford Park site bringing in new residents, jobs and growth to the community. The development mirrors that strong sense of itself as a seperate entity, away from the capital city and having its own identity, but at the same time part of a larger whole and within easy driving distance, allowing integration into Estonia and the European Union.
In the Governorate of Estonia, serfdom was abolished in 1816 (in comparison, in the whole Russian Empire it was abolished in 1861), however the land was not redistributed among the peasants and the corvée labour was preserved (until 1876). The March 19, 1856 manifesto of Tsar Alexander II spoke about further agrarian reforms, but the implementation was slow, and this sparkled the unrest, including the Mahtra revolt.
The revolt itself was suppressed using the regular army, 14 peasants were wounded and 7 killed on site, 3 died later of wounds. The military casualties included 13 soldiers wounded and 1 officer killed. 60-65 peasants were sentenced to death by a court-martial in Tallinn that was reduced by Baltic governor-general Suvorov to corporal punishment. These events significantly influenced the work of the committees working on the project of the emancipation of the serfs in Russia.
The Mahtra uprising lead to the creation of the Mahtra forest reserve, which is a nature protected area behind the development site. It is around 550 hectares of protected land and forest making sure that development here will be limited to further improvements in the local villages and surroundings – in the future.
The history of the Mahtra Manor
Mahtra (Machters) manor is mentioned for the first time in 1480. Initially, the manor changed the owners many times. In the 18th century Jakob von Erdt expanded the Manor.
In 1831 colonel Georg von Riesenkampff bought Mahtra manor and rented it out. In 1837 the son of Mayor of Tallinn Heinrich Berg rented the manor from von Riesenkampff. He rennovated the manor house several times and decorated it beautifully.
In 1843 the widowed Mrs. von Riesenkampff moved her family to live in the manor. When she died in 1852, the guardian of the manor, Arthur von Baranoff and his children became landlords.
In 1853 the manor was bought in a public auction for 40,500 silver rubles by the son of Purila, a retired captain Konstantin von Helffreich. He also owned Piiumetsa and Aruküla manors. The new owner restructured – he widened the manor farm fields at the expense of local farms and carved out drainage canals in order to improve the fen. In his lifetime every farm nearby received a Bible for free and Mahtra village school was opened.
Konstantin died in 1874. He and his wife Anna Elisabeth are buried in the local Juuru churchyard.
In 1878, Konstantin’s heirs sold the estate to Konstantin von Barlöwenile of Atla, whose son Alexander was given the manor in 1916. Today the owner is a local Estonian who is active in the development of the area and manages a local craft shop on the site of Mahtra manor.