From the outside, Beauvoorde Castle appears to be a perfect example of a 17th century castle. But don’t be deceived. It was actually created in the late 19th century through the romantic vision of one man. In 1875, wealthy nobleman Arthur Merghelynck fell in love with a ruined castle in the tiny village of Wulveringem, West Flanders. He was attracted by its picturesque setting, but also by its potential to fulfil his grand scheme.
Merghelynck was an incurable romantic who resented the increasing industrialisation of Flanders. He wanted to cherish the atmosphere, style and romance of the past, and in particular the 17th century. In the remains of Beauvoorde Castle he saw the possibility to realise his dream.
Over the next 27 years he methodically and lovingly rebuilt and restored Beauvoorde Castle, and filled its many rooms. Searching the length and breadth of Flanders, he purchased original Flemish furniture and art from collectors and auctions. What he was unable to find, he had reproduced. The result is a 17th century castle fully furnished in the style of that period. It has an extensive collection of furniture and art, as well as a well laid-out garden. Here, the orchard is managed organically, and the apple harvest makes Château de Beauvoorde apple juice. The final port of call is the castle shop, which contains a range of appetising local produce as well as guidebooks to the local region.
Beauvoorde Castle is open every day throughout July and August from 2 pm to 5.30 pm. An audio guide is available in Dutch, English, French or German. Admission is 5 EUR.
In the region:
- ‘t Potje Pâté – For somewhere to eat locally, I recommend ‘t Potje Pâté in nearby Alveringem. Its specialties are pâtés of all types, served with home-baked bread, farm-produced cheeses and washed down with locally brewed beers. Sandwiches, salads, steaks are also available, while the dagschotel (dish of the day) is good value for money.
- The Museum of Thirst – De Snoek in Fortem is a complete, authentic brewery and malt-house dating from the 19th century. It takes you back to the pre-industrial time of hot ovens, steamy breweries and chilly fermenting cellars. In the ancient Brouwershof you can sample traditional brews.
- Open Air Museum – At Bachten de Kupe in Izenberge you can walk around a traditional West Flanders farmhouse, barn, wagon shed, cowshed and stables, all equipped with authentic furniture and tools.
- Pottery Museum – Located in Beveren, this treasure trove of unearthed pottery discovered in the region dates back to prehistoric times but has a particular focus on the Roman and Middle Ages. It also contains a fascinating collection of clay pipes.