53°31'59.1"N 9°40'52.5"E
The Gräfenhof

The Landesgemeinde Altes Land

The Altes Land was under its own administration from the beginning of the 14 th century. The Altländer were organised as a Landesgemeinde. They concluded treaties and represented the interests of the Altes Land externally under a common seal.

There were four administrative quarters with a total of 18 districts. The three miles consisted each of four districts, the Hauptmannschaften. The fourth quarter comprised six bailiwicks.

In the twelve Hauptmannschaften, an elected Hauptmann acted as leader in annual rotation. Unlike the bailiffs in the bailiwicks, the Hauptmänner had no judicial functions in their Hauptmannschaften.

Most of the local aristocrats, apart from the families von Schulte and von Zesterfleth, emigrated eastwards in the 14 th century. The pre-democratic state constitution of the Landesgemeinde Altes Land was thus largely preserved and was not, as in other places, undermined by privileges and aristocratic rule. As a result, the autonomy of the Landesgemeinde Altes Land was strengthened.  

The state assembly was the highest political body. It was called the "meenheit" or "dat meene Oldeland". The elected mayor was its head.

The 18 heads and representatives of all districts met with the Gräfen in the state assembly to discuss general state matters and the dyke management. The mayor annually submitted the state accounts in November and was newly elected. Voting was based on the majority principle. Each district had one vote.    

The state assembly usually met in Jork, initially at the cemetery or in the church, and since 1659 in the state-owned court house, the Portau'schen House, the Landesstube.

The Hauptmannschaften existed until the Hanoverian constitution of offices, which introduced the political municipalities in 1852. Nevertheless, the Hauptmann kept this title for many years, and was still responsible for auditing the local account, as was the mayor at the office level. The permission for self-government of the state assembly was transferred to the office assembly.

In 1885, the Prussian district regulations assigned the city of Buxtehude to the so-called district of Jork.

In 1932, during the process of restructuring the Prussian districts, the unity of the Altes Land, which had lasted for centuries, was destroyed. The district of Jork was dissolved and assigned to the greater district of Stade. The villages east of the Este were allocated to the district of Harburg.

In 1937, the Greater Hamburg Act came into force under Adolf Hitler. Francop, Neuenfelde and Cranz were assigned to Hamburg. Since then not only a district but also a state border divides the Altes Land. There are two Altländer municipalities in the district of Stade since the territorial and administrative reforms of the 1970s: the joint municipality of Lühe and the municipality of Jork.     


The Gräfenhof

The Jork Town Hall is called "Der Gräfenhof" or " Der von Haren'sche Hof" since 1980.

The achievement of the Dutch land developers was honoured with large farmsteads. The large yard in the centre of Jork also originated in the Hollerkolonisation.

In 1637, the yard was the residence of the chief administrative officer Johann Barvels.

Matthäus von Haren bought the yard in 1648. He was the first Gräfe in Swedish days. Queen Christina of Sweden granted him "noble justice", whereupon the estate became aristocratic and tax-free. Then he commissioned the construction of a new building.

The property had several owners and was used for agricultural purposes until the 20 th century. The municipality restored the baroque building between 1976 and 1980 and converted it into the town hall. The beam with the von Haren’sche family coat of arms decorates the entrance.