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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Details

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

More Information

en.wikipedia.org

Rating

4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Shaun Maloney (2 years ago)
A sombre place that has an atmosphere. It has guided tours but they only scratch the surface of what went on here. The video show is a little date and could be improved in my opinion.
Zsombor Guszlev (2 years ago)
The museum part is nothing special, but the movie was super awesome, the screens are moving ext.
Dorottya Csonka (2 years ago)
Very important place of the 1815's battle of Waterloo with an amazing light show. Worth the walk there.
Harald Heyvaert (2 years ago)
Joined the reenactement during the weekend 18-20/06....what an experience... We also saw the "movie" in the barn which was interesting as well.
Stuart Brewer (2 years ago)
Went there as part of a visit to the Waterloo battlefield during the anniversary weekend, when there is a major re-enactment with canon, cavalry and even a Napoleon impersonator doing the rounds. It was excellent. I was also lucky enough to bump into the excellent people from Waterloo Uncovered. Look them up if you don't know what they do and watch their YouTube channel which has loads of great information about Hougoumont and the battle of Waterloo. Minor criticisms of the visitors site as a whole were that food and drink can be pricey and there is nowhere to refill water bottles leaving you having to buy water from the vendors on site with all the extra expense and plastic waste that creates. If you go specifically for the re-enactment be prepared that there was no English commentary so you need to have a good grasp of the events of the battle before you go, otherwise it can all be a bit confusing. Overall though a really good place to visit.
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