The History of Château de Petite-Somme

Just in case you just tuned in to my virtual diary, I’m in Belgium at the moment, and teaching cookery classes in an old castle.

The earliest record about the castle dates back to the 11th century, when Gozelon de Montaiqu was the owner. It is said that in 1065, he plundered the property of the Abbey of Saint-Hurbert. Soon after he died his widow, feeling guilty about her husband’s atrocities, offered the castle with the church and her subjects to the Abbey of Saint-Hubert. As a result the area then belonged to the bishop of Liege.

Later in the same century, R.F. Alexis and Mathieu made the castle part of a defensive territory.

In the beginning of the 14th Century, Jean de Bohême added a tower to the castle. At that time the castle was included in the defensive strategy of the north of Luxemburg. Luxemburg acquired the castle in lieu of a debt it was owed. At that time it was named ‘Petite Somme’, possibly because the next village was named ‘Grande Somme’

From 1461 the castle became the property of the Hamal family. Persan de Hamal (Lord of Soy, Petite Bomal and Verlaine, and a delegate of Ossey) then gave it to his son, Staskin. In 1464 Staskin married Maria van Sparmont, better known as de Montjardin.

The Hamal family owned the castle until 1774, after which it was connected with the families de Gonioul, de Résimont, de Jenneret, de Chardeneux, de Preu- de Viron, de Hemicourt, de Grüne, de Blier, de Charneux and de Baillet. The castle of Petite Somme then went to the family of Libotte by a marriage between the heirs of Denys Charles Josef (Earl of Hamal) and baron de Libotte de Réchain.

old lithograph:

Their daughter married the chancellor de Wampe (Knight in the order of the Holy State) whose heiress, Marie François, married Albert Joseph de Favereau (Lord of Sainte Ode, Boissine, Bammart and Presles, headclerk to the high court of justice of Tillet and d’Amberloup) in 1781.

There are no parts of the original castle still in existence. Lord Charles de Favereau demolished what had served as the Hamal family residence (except for the square 13th century tower) and rebuilt a country home of bricks on the old foundations. The castle remained the property of the family de Favereau until 1877.

old dining room:

Baron Victor Albert de Favereau was related to Ghislaine Mlisonne de Lados (widow of Victor Rouscelot de Menil and Lucien Philip de Henin de Boussu), who had a daughter called Louise Marie Eulalie. She married Amable Alexis de Jourda, Earl de Vaux, in 1861+ and inherited the castle in 1877. The new owners demolished the brick mansion as well as the 13th century tower (which was then in too much of a state of disrepair to preserve) and rebuilt the castle in 1888 in the 13th century neo early-gothical style. All that is left now of the older buildings is a part of one of the outbuildings and a pointed door with the weapons of the families de Hamal and de Grane. Although the castle has a beautiful view, most of the estates trees were cleared.

During World War One, the family de Vaux used the castle as a hospital to take care of the wounded. The invaders burnt down several houses in the village and many villagers found shelter in the castle. Some of the castle’s outbuildings were also burnt. Afterwards, the daughter of Charles de Jourda, grandchild of Noel de Jourda, who was living as a nun in a convent in Liege, allowed her sisters to live in the castle from 1942 until 1944.

In World War Two, during the battle of Von Rundstedt, American soldiers occupied the castle. During that time many of the revolutionists who were operating nearby, died in and around the castle. The earl died in 1946, at which time the castle with its 400 acres of forest was sold.

In 1948, a group of philanthropists from the surrounding Basse district, entertained the idea of establishing it as a holiday center and rest camp for students and scholars. Under the direction of the local mayors there were plans for it to become a holiday school, a school for the mentally handicapped, a youth inn, a camping site and a hotel-restaurant.

After the initiative went bankrupt, it was sold in 1975 to a brokerage office in Brussels. Thereafter it remained unoccupied for 4 or 5 years and deteriorated, while numerous persons visited and emptied the castle. It was in this dilapidated state that the International Society for Krishna Consciousness purchased it and started renovation work, which is still going on.

Today the castle and accompanying buildings is known as ‘Radhadesh’ and is the spiritual community of the Hare Krishnas.

castle today:
Posted by Kurma on 5/7/05; 2:45:22 AM from the Travel dept.

Life and Travel

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