Ham-sur-Heure Castle was first mentioned in the 13th century when it passed, through marriage, to the Condé family. In the 15th century the castle was owned by the d'Enghien family. In 1487, when the last family member died without heirs, the castle went to the De Merode family.
In 1540 the castle was visited by Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor. Around this time the castle was probably enlarged and strengthened.
In 1667, under Ferdinand de Merode, the castle was badly damaged and the keep was destroyed when it was sieged, without success, by French armies. Between 1669 and 1671 a protective rubble wall was built. But in 1689 the castle was again besieged by French armies. This time, even though there was strong resistance from a Spanish garrison based in the castle, Albert Maximilian, son of Ferdinand, was forced to surrender. The castle was partly destroyed.At the beginning of the 18th century the old castle was transformed into a luxurious residence by Joseph de Merode. Between 1776 and 1779 the castle was again rebuilt by Balthazar-Philippe, who would be the last Count de Merode-Deynse. The rebuilding was never completed and Balthazar left the castle and moved to Vienna because of the French Revolution. The next 70 years the castle was uninhabited and stood virtually abandoned.
At the end of the 19th century the ruined castle was rebuilt by Louise de Rochechouart Mortemart and her daughter, Renée Victurienne de Merode, the wife of Charles-Jean d'Oultremont. This rebuilding, which lasted more than 20 years, drastically transformed the building and gave it its present appearance.During WW I Ham-sur-Heure Castle was visited by several distinguished guests including the son of the German Emperor, Wilhelm II. From December 1918 to January 1919, Edward VIII, the Prince of Wales, also stayed at the castle, while visiting the General Headquarters of the Australian Army Corps which were based at the castle.
In 1956 the castle was bought by the municipality. At present Ham-sur-Heure Castle is used as the town hall.References:
The Old Town Hall of Wrocław is one of the main landmarks of the city. The Old Town Hall's long history reflects developments that have taken place in the city since its initial construction. The town hall serves the city of Wroclaw and is used for civic and cultural events such as concerts held in its Great Hall. In addition, it houses a museum and a basement restaurant.
The town hall was developed over a period of about 250 years, from the end of 13th century to the middle of 16th century. The structure and floor plan changed over this extended period in response to the changing needs of the city. The exact date of the initial construction is not known. However, between 1299 and 1301 a single-storey structure with cellars and a tower called the consistory was built. The oldest parts of the current building, the Burghers’ Hall and the lower floors of the tower, may date to this time. In these early days the primary purpose of the building was trade rather than civic administration activities.
Between 1328 and 1333 an upper storey was added to include the Council room and the Aldermen’s room. Expansion continued during the 14th century with the addition of extra rooms, most notably the Court room. The building became a key location for the city’s commercial and administrative functions.
The 15th and 16th centuries were times of prosperity for Wroclaw as was reflected in the rapid development of the building during that period. The construction program gathered momentum, particularly from 1470 to 1510, when several rooms were added. The Burghers’ Hall was re-vaulted to take on its current shape, and the upper story began to take shape with the development of the Great Hall and the addition of the Treasury and Little Treasury.
Further innovations during the 16th century included the addition of the city’s Coat of arms (1536), and the rebuilding of the upper part of the tower (1558–59). This was the final stage of the main building program. By 1560, the major features of today’s Stray Rates were established.
The second half of the 17th century was a period of decline for the city, and this decline was reflected in the Stray Rates. Perhaps by way of compensation, efforts were made to enrich the interior decorations of the hall. In 1741, Wroclaw became a part of Prussia, and the power of the City diminished. Much of the Stray Rates was allocated to administering justice.
During the 19th century there were two major changes. The courts moved to a separate building, and the Rates became the site of the city council and supporting functions. There was also a major program of renovation because the building had been neglected and was covered with creeping vines. The town hall now has several en-Gothic features including some sculptural decoration from this period.
In the early years of the 20th century improvements continued with various repair work and the addition of the Little Bear statue in 1902. During the 1930s, the official role of the Rates was reduced and it was converted into a museum. By the end of World War II Town Hall suffered minor damage, such as aerial bomb pierced the roof (but not exploded) and some sculptural elements were lost. Restoration work began in the 1950s following a period of research, and this conservation effort continued throughout the 20th century. It included refurbishment of the clock on the east facade.