Château d'Hougoumont

Braine-l'Alleud, Belgium

Château d'Hougoumont (originally Goumont) is a large farmhouse situated at the bottom of an escarpment near the Nivelles road in Braine-l'Alleud, where British and other allied forces faced Napoleon's Army at the Battle of Waterloo on 18 June 1815.

In 1474 the Order of Saint John bought the area of estate. A building had apparently been erected on the land as it was sold in 1536 to Pierre du Fief, attorney-general to the Council of Brabant, who subsequently enlarged the property considerably. In 1562 the estate became the property of Pierre Quarré and stayed in the Quarré family until 1637 when it was bought by Arnold Schuyl, Lord of Walhorn. It was around this time that the present building was erected.

In June 1815 the chateau became an epicenter of fighting in the Battle of Waterloo as it was one of the first places where British and other allied forces faced Napoleon's Army.

In his novel Les Misérables, Victor Hugo describes how 300 bodies were thrown down a well at Hougoumont. Several historians have noted that an archaeological dig of the well by Derick Saunders in 1985 turned up no human remains in a well rediscovered at the site. In doing so, they state that it debunks a myth made popular by Hugo.

Hougoumont remained an active farm until the end of the 20th century. In 2003 a settlement was found between Count Guibert d'Oultremont, owner of the farm, and the Regional Authority after which it became the property of the Intercommunale (1815). By June 2006, the farm appeared to be derelict. The walls, which were once near pristine white, have become a dirty yellow. Several walls are cracked and parts are clearly damaged, most notably the right-hand door post of the north side gate.

Project Hougoumont was set up to oversee funding to restore and preserve Hougoumont for the long-term future. The project was completed in June 2015. Charles, Prince of Wales, unveiled a memorial at Hougoumont dedicated to the British soldiers who fought in the battle. The memorial by Vivien Mallock stands next to the north gate and shows two life-size soldiers struggling to close the critical gates of the farm to save it from being overrun by the French. The next day Hougoumont was opened to the public on the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo.



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Founded: 17th century
Category: Palaces, manors and town halls in Belgium

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User Reviews

Kayla Lowery-Busick (15 months ago)
Beautiful historic site. I am so amazed at the preservation that has taken place to ensure this place is intact for future generations. Be sure to get tickets if for nothing else than the video in the barn. It is better than most videos in these types of places. I highly recommend it! (Tickets also include admission to the Panorama and to the Lion's Mound.) Also, the back girls is worth looking at because the holes that were bored into the wall before the battle are still there (though they've been reinforced in recent years.)
Shona Floyd (15 months ago)
Fascinating place to visit & to be able to see the amazing feat these soldiers did in holding off & keeping the farm secure. It was a very thought provoking visit &
Michael Thomson (15 months ago)
An absolutely brilliant place. For any history enthusiast this is a must-see. The printed guide which you get at the desk explains everything in good detail and the audio visual presentation is excellent. The staff are friendly and helpful. Definitely would return to this site when next in Belgium.
Guy Parker (15 months ago)
If you're even slightly interested in Waterloo this is a must visit location. Not only was it pivotal in the battle the museum helps you understand the battle and there is a fantastic audiovisual show in the main barn. The fact you are sat in the actual buildings where key events took place only adds to the atmosphere. Start your visit to the Waterloo battlefield here if you can, it's where the battle started!
Connie Napolitano (16 months ago)
It was wonderful, owners of the farm were just delightful they explained everything on how they grow and propagated there tulip bulbs it was just lovely that flowers were outstanding
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