Borrekens Castle (Belgium)

Flanders     See list of castles in Belgio

It is more than likely that the castle of Vorselaar in the early Middle Ages came into being as a fortified fortress to protect the people of glory from outside invasion. After the invasion of the Normans in our regions, the aim was everywhere to prevent looting in the future. The people did not have to count on the 'vadsige' (lazy) kings. They left the board entirely to the local court maids. They had to go up for defense, which were surrounded by canals from which the enemy could be kept at a distance. The last Hofmeier of Vorselaar left the farm around 1270, when Arnolf van Rotselaer, who received the loan from Hertog Jan I from Brabant, arrived in Vorselaar. He realized that the wooden fence was not resistant to burning arrows and had a tower built in stone. The first form of the castle rises when in 1356 the 'master tower' was built, mainly intended for reinforcement.

Little is known about the concrete development of the castle. In the Middle Ages the castle was inhabited by the lord of Vorselaar, in the earliest times the lords of Rotselaar. Their prosperity increased from year to year by revenues derived from glorious jurisprudence (an imposed punishment could be bought off), all kinds of taxes and excise duties and the acquisition of possessions from those who had died without heirs. Moreover, the tenants were in the service of the lord and they repaired all kinds of chores for free. In exchange, the gentleman provided protection. Until the beginning of the 16th century, the castle remained in the hands of the Lords of Rotselaar. When the last of Rotselaar died, everything was left to Cornelis van Bergen, a cousin of the family. He in turn left the castle to his cousin Jean de Ligne, who was married to the daughter of the Count of Arenberg. Through their marriage contract, the sons born from this marriage were named 'Arenberg'. The next generations of Arenberg went from bad to worse. Karel Eugeen, great-grandson of Jean de Ligne, was in such a financial need that even a loan could not save him. He sold the castle to Jan Proost, the chancellor of Brabant, who, after being raised to the nobility, was called Jan de Proost. He was a very enterprising man. So he laid the plants around the castle and pulled an oak tree straight through the undergrowth, of which the church forest is still a remnant. He also dried the marshes in the inner forest and took care of the restoration of the castle, which was badly damaged due to the mismanagement of the Arenbergs.

The restoration of the castle cost fortunes and after the death of Jan de Proost his widow and children were left with debts. In 1716 the castle was sold to Mr. de Pret. He had only one daughter, married to one of the Wilde van Schilde. This family had the castle restored and made the work of the Proost to turn the castle into a residential castle, a 'huys de plaisance'. Karel van de Werve had the gatehouse and the drawbridge demolished. The defensive walls were lowered on the sides and the spacious courtyard was laid out. In this time the outbuildings with stables were also built.

The two bluestone gates at the entrance to the courtyard and the permanent bridge were laid out in 1818 on the initiative of Louis van de Werve. A third large rebuilding wave took place in the last half of the 19th century (1850 - 1860) by Philippe van de Werve. This gave the castle its current appearance with all kinds of Gothic style features, such as the turrets, fireplaces and battlements. The quartered shield of the van de Werve family was awarded to Vorselaar as a municipal coat of arms by Royal Decree of 24 March 1841. Philippe was succeeded by René van de Werve, grandfather of Raymond baron de Borrekens. Since 1911, the castle has come into the possession of the Borrekens family, to have been given a long-term lease to a company some years ago.

Images of the castle

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Useful infos

Latitude: 51.2132214
Longitude: 4.7775194
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Map of Borrekens Castle