The earliest mention of Brakel Castle dates from the mid-13th century. At that time, it was a square, moated castle, situated close to the village of Brakel behind the newly-built Waaldijk dike. In 1321, the castle was struck by lightning and destroyed by fire. This led the knight Sir Eustachius van Brakel to lend his castle to the Count of Guelders in exchange for the count’s protection. Unfortunately, this was not enough to defend the castle against the hostile forces of the Count of Holland in 1407. The castle was destroyed and then rebuilt once again. In 1574, the Brakel Castle was plundered by the Spanish and subsequently blown up by French soldiers in 1672.

After this final blow, the medieval castle was never rebuilt. Work on the new house did not start until 1786, more than a hundred years later. The castle ruins were preserved and included in the design of the new landscape gardens and the south-west tower was partially restored. The owner was a collector of antiquities who chose to include grave stones and memorial plaques in the new walls for the house. He also established an archaeological museum in the medieval grain store called ‘Het Spijker’ (The Nail).

The national heritage foundations Het Geldersch Landschap and Geldersche Kasteelen acquired Brakel House in 1972. They turned the walled garden next to the ruins into a flower, herb and vegetable garden and restored the surrounding parklands to their former glory. In the 19th century, medieval ruins in landscaped gardens were the height of fashion and this example at Brakel House is the only one to survive in Gelderland.

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Founded: 13th century
Category: Ruins in Netherlands

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