Antoing Castle (Belgium)
Wallonia See list of castles in Belgio
Antoing Castle, located on the right bank of the Scheldt, 6 kilometers south of Tournai and in the heart of the town of Antoing (Walloon Region of Belgium), is a castle whose origins date back to the 12th century. Completely rebuilt in the neo-Gothic style in the 19th century, it has been one of the residences of the family of the Princes of Ligne for several generations. Classified as a heritage of Wallonia since 1949, the castle is only accessible to visitors during visits organized by the town of Antoing.
A nerve center, Antoing offered the lords of the "trou d'Antoing" an unobstructed view of the plain stretching from Tournai to Mons and whose lands descended to the Scheldt. The current park still dominates this watercourse. It was in the 10th century that the first trace of a castle motte appeared in Antoing. It was only an entrenchment surrounded by a palisade, intended for the defense of the country and to serve as a refuge for the inhabitants in case of danger. Inspired by Roman camps, this primitive "castle" was undoubtedly modest: a simple elevation of land crowned by a wooden construction, surrounded by a palisade and surrounded by a wide and deep ditch in order to force the attackers to use ladders to invest the place.
In the 12th century, this wooden palisade was replaced by a stone enclosure whose bases are identical to those of the current enclosure. A solid dungeon is also located there.
In the 15th century, from 1436 to 1452, the keep, then considered rudimentary, was rebuilt and transformed into a luxurious and comfortable residence for the time. The old fortifications were consolidated there and adapted to the appearance of artillery: thick walls, round towers, gunboats. A first line defensive system, the bolwerk (Barbacane), is added in front of the gatehouse. Serving as an observation post, it is also an advanced post that protects the gatehouse from artillery fire.
In the 16th century, a main building was built next to the gatehouse. A brick tower is attached to the old keep. This brick tower is the tallest in the current castle.
In the 19th century, the architect Clément Parent, a pupil of Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, was called upon to restore the neo-Gothic appearance to the building that we know today.
In the 20th century (in 1901) the castle (uninhabited for a dozen years) and its outbuildings were fitted out to receive the French Jesuits and their students from the College of Lille whom the laws of 1901 and 1904 had forced into exile. The ‘College of the Sacred Heart’, given the small size of the premises, never had more than 100 students, all boarders, preparing for the entrance exams to the Grandes Ecoles of the French State. Among them: Charles de Gaulle, a student at Antoing from 1905 to 1908. In 1914, the 16 teachers had to leave to make way for a German hospital.