Farciennes Castle is a derelict 17th-century palace. The present building stands on the site of an earlier castle of the 14th century.
The first record of the castle at Farciennes dates from 1344, when Adolf van der Marck, Prince-Bishop of Liège, gave Hendrik of Farciennes permission to restore and strengthen his castle. On 23 September 1408 the united armies of John III, Duke of Bavaria (John the Pitiless), at that time Prince-Bishop of Liège, and his brother William II, Duke of Bavaria, defeated the rebellious citizens of Liège in battle on the plain of Russon. The victors ordered that the strongholds in the area be dismantled, which included the castle of Farciennes.
The remains of the stronghold changed hands several times until Charles Albert de Longueval became owner. He ordered the demolition of what was left of the medieval structure and erected on the same spot a new aristocratic castle in the year 1630. However, he never saw it finished, as he died before its completion in 1676.
The castle in an 18th-century engravingMarie-Emmanuelle de Longueval, Countess of Bouquoi, married Albert-Maximilien, Count de Fours, and so the castle passed to the de Fours family. It was badly damaged by pillaging armies during the French Revolution. Count François de Fours was however able to keep the castle out of the French hands with a sales trick.
In 1809 the Count de Fours, the last lord of Farciennes, sold the castle to Gabriel Scarsez, a lawyer from Mons, but he lacked the means to maintain an estate like Farciennes in good condition, so the building gradually began to decay. Finally, large parts of the surrounding park were sold and factories built on the land. The castle started to show cracks as a result of the coal mines causing the ground below to subside. The building was rented out and was turned into a starch factory. In the meantime the beautiful interior was plundered and the contents scattered throughout the world.
In 1860 the castle was turned into a farm. A part was set aside for living quarters and some of the big ballrooms housed the cows and pigs.
Neglect and ill-treatment continued unchecked, even though the castle was classed as a structure of national importance in 1926, until eventually, in 2008, the town of Farciennes bought what remained of the building, which was only a skeleton of what was once was a beautiful estate. Large parts of the building have collapsed and despite that, there is nothing that can save the castle from inevitable destruction.References:
The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.
Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.
The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.
As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).