After James Fredrik and Blanche Dickson bought Tjolöholm in 1892 they decided to tear down the existing manor house and erect a new castle. In 1897 a design competition was held and James Fredrik and Blanche selected the contribution that came second. The contribution was designed by a promising young architect by the name of Lars Israel Wahlman, only 27 years old. He called his design ”Hobgoblin”. In 1898 building work commenced and in 1904 it was completed.
Besides the castle, Lars Israel Wahlman also designed the surrounding parkland and gardens. It was unusual for contemporary Swedish architects like Wahlman to have an interest in landscape gardening as a crucial and integrated part of the design. He wanted to achieve harmony between natural countryside and the manmade garden, and he put all his heart and soul into his work. Wahlman drew inspiration from the strong trend at the time, the Arts and Crafts Movement, which was a reaction to mass produced big volume goods, and a desire to promote genuine craftsmanship, for both castle and garden. The early 20th century gardeners liked to use local plants to ensure quality and favour local growers. That also applied to craftsmanship – to make sure that work was done well, local labour was often hired to make furniture, walls and paths for the garden.
Arts and Craft was an inspiration for the Swedish national romantic. Wahlman had a clear national romantic style and he blended his impressions from the Swedish countryside with the British. He was particularly fond of Swedish log houses. He was inspired by the British house and landscape design and the Jugend style. This is how Wahlman describes what they wanted to achieve: ”The garden! It probably surprises you to find how much we have spent on the garden – that is not common in Sweden. But we wanted a small garden, a truly beautiful little fairyland, and as we did not have a magic wand that could make it appear for free, we had to do it through hard work and great effort.”