Sweden // The southwest //


It’s a fifteen-minute train ride south from Varberg to the decidedly likeable medieval town of FALKENBERG (falcons were once used for hunting here, hence the name), with some lively museums and a gloriously long beach. It’s a well-preserved little town that really comes alive in July and August, when most of the tourists arrive.

Falkenberg has a long-standing reputation as a centre for fly-fishing on the Ätran River. A succession of wealthy English gentlemen came here throughout the nineteenth century; one such devotee, London lawyer William Wilkinson, went so far as to write a book about the experience, Days In Falkenberg (1894). In it, he described the place where the well-to-do visitors stayed as “an ancient inn with a beautiful garden leading down to the river”. This building, one of the few here to have escaped the dozen or so town fires which devastated the town over the centuries (most recently in the 1840s), now houses Falkmanska Caféet, the best café in town.

These upper-class Englishmen brought considerable wealth with them, and had a tremendous influence on the town. Predictably enough, they made no attempt to adapt to local culture: Falkenbergers had to learn English, and throughout the latter half of the nineteenth century, baby boys here were named Charles instead of the Swedish Karl, while the most popular girl’s name was Frances, after Wilkinson’s daughter. English influence can be seen even today: near the post office there is a British telephone box donated by Oswaldtwistle in Lancashire.

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