When planning their son’s holidays, the Chopins made use of invitations from the landowning families they had befriended. This made it possible for Fryderyk to relax and recharge his batteries in rural surroundings. Chopin spent some of his 1827 holidays in Kowalewo. The owner of the estate at that time, Ksawery Zboiński, was related to the Dziewanowski family of Szafarnia and was the godfather (1815) of Emilia, the Chopins’ youngest daughter. This suggests a warm relationship between the two families.
Very few details of Chopin’s stay on the Zboiński property have come down to us. In a letter from Kowalewo dated 6 July 1827, Chopin wrote to his family in Warsaw that the places he was going to visit during a planned trip to Gdańsk had been changed: ‘And so, today in Płock, tomorrow in Rościszewo, the day after tomorrow in Kikół, a few days in Turzno, a few days in Kozłowo, a moment in Gdańsk, and then back again!’. The trip, taken in early August 1827, might have been linked to the business interests of Count Zboiński. Chopin had never been to Gdańsk before and had neither friends nor family in the city. It seems reasonable to assume that he wanted to use the trip to visit Johann Wilhelm Linde, pastor at the Holy Spirit church in Gdańsk and brother of Bogumił Linde, vice-chancellor of the Warsaw Lyceum.
We are not familiar with the appearance of the Zboiński manor where Chopin stayed. All that remains now are the ruins of a building erected before 1859 by Antoni Jabłoński, who owned Kowalewo in 1854–1891. About two hundred people lived in Kowalewo at that time. The 1880 edition of Słownik geograficzny Królestwa Polskiego [Geographical dictionary of the Kingdom of Poland] mentions mementoes from mediaeval owners being found in the ground when the Jabłoński manor was being built. The present remains probably stand on the same site as the Zboiński manor where Chopin stayed.
The composer described the beautiful natural surroundings as follows: ‘it is morning now, 8 o’clock (for we never get up before 7), the air is fresh, the sun shines beautifully, the birds are twittering, there is no brook, otherwise it would be murmuring, but there is, instead, a pond, and the frogs are singing most beautifully! But the most amusing is the blackbird, which is singing forth wonderful rackets in front of the windows’.
In 1824, Count Zboiński had his daughter Eugenia (b. 1823) registered as the owner of Kowalewo. Some scholars believe that he did so because, as a Prussian citizen, he could not legally own real estate in the Russian partition. Zboiński’s principal residence was in Kozłowo, in the Prussian partition. In 1843, the family sold Kowalewo to Krystyna Fink.