The hamlet of Schoenfels is first mentioned by the name of Scindalasheim in a deed of 846 as a gift by Bishop Hetto of Trier to Abbot Marcuardus of Prüm.
By 1150 a document from the Abbey of Echternach refers to it as Schonefels. There follow frequent name changes over the next centuries: Schindelzein (1156), Schindelce (13th century), Scindelce (1239), Schindeltz (1434), Schindefeltz (1498), Schindviltz (1503), Schindfels (1506), Schinveltz (1517) , Schonfels (1574) as well as Schindleech, Schindals, Schinfeltz, Bellroch and finally by 1766 Schin- resp. Schoenfeltz. The name probably derives from the word scindula (shingle) meaning manufacture(r) of shingles.
In the 12th Century a person by the name of Theodorius of Schonevels is known. In 1292, before the invention of artillery, a fortified farm (primitive castle) was erected by a certain Ferri, aka Frederic of Schoenfels. It passed by marriage to the lords of Ansembourg, and later to the Sassenheims.
In the early 16th Century, Henry Schloeder von Lachen, Lord of Schoenfels and Busbach, acquired the estate. The Schloeder von Lachen coat of arms decorates the entrance to the tower.
The feudal castle of Schoenfels -of no great strategic value- was stripped of its fortifications by the French Army in 1683.
A quarrell between Theodore of Neunheuser and the Lord of Brandenburg resulted in the castle and village being burnt down on June 22nd 1690. Ch.-Antoine Schloeder von Lachen and Th. of Neunheuser began dividing their lands in 1700.
By marrying Marie-Catherine of Neunheuser in 1759 Pierre-François Gaillot Genouillace became Lord of Schoenfels. His son Francis Roman Gaillot, who had married Marie-Louise Cassal in 1774, sold his Schoenfels properties on 18th August 1813 to J B Thorn-Suttor, the Governor of the Province of Luxembourg during the Belgian period (1831-1839).
Owner of the castle since 1840, the Belgian Senator Jacques Engler, passed it on to his son in law Baron Auguste Goethals who had a splendid mansion built next to the mighty tower in 1870. The family Charles Van den Poll from The Hague inherited the castle and in 1948 sold the Schoenfels property with its vast woodlands to the timber merchant Camille Weiss, who -in turn - passed the castle to the Luxembourg state on 16th March, 1971. The mansion was demolished in 1976 by the Luxembourg State.
At present the renovation of the tower is underway. The plan is to install a visitor centre as well as the offices of the Water & Forestry Administration.References:
The Castle of Gruyères is one of the most famous in Switzerland. It was built between 1270 and 1282, following the typical square plan of the fortifications in Savoy. It was the property of the Counts of Gruyères until the bankruptcy of the Count Michel in 1554. His creditors the cantons of Fribourg and Bern shared his earldom. From 1555 to 1798 the castle became residence to the bailiffs and then to the prefects sent by Fribourg.
In 1849 the castle was sold to the Bovy and Balland families, who used the castle as their summer residency and restored it. The castle was then bought back by the canton of Fribourg in 1938, made into a museum and opened to the public. Since 1993, a foundation ensures the conservation as well as the highlighting of the building and the art collection.
The castle is the home of three capes of the Order of the Golden Fleece. They were part of the war booty captured by the Swiss Confederates (which included troops from Gruyères) at the Battle of Morat against Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy in 1476. As Charles the Bold was celebrating the anniversary of his father's death, one of the capes is a black velvet sacerdotal vestment with Philip the Good's emblem sewn into it.
A collection of landscapes by 19th century artists Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Barthélemy Menn and others are on display in the castle.