Friday, December 25, 2015
Esquelbecq Castle 17.6.1978
Esquelbecq Castle, locally known as Château d'Esquelbecq or Kasteel Ekelsbeke (in Dutch), lies in the village with the same name, south of the town of Dunkerque in the Nord department in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region in France.
It is assumed that since the 9th century the village was protected by a wooden castle. If this castle was situated at the same location as the present castle is not known.
I could not find out when exactly the present castle was built. In 1299 however there was mention of the castle when the daughter of Thierry d'Esquelbecq; Beatrix, married Gauthier Ghistelles. Their descendants owned Esquelbecq Castle until 1584 when French lords were forced to sell their posessions in Flanders by the Spanish rulers.
The buyer and the new lord and Count of Esquelbecq was Valentin de Pardieu, Governor of Gravelines, who campaigned with the armies of Charles V. When he died in 1595 without heirs Esquelbecq Castle was left to his nephew Philippe Levasseur de Guernonval.
In 1606 Philippe de Guernonval restored the ruined castle and village. Amongst other things, large windows were placed in the walls of the castle which were more than a meter thick in some places. Also the castle garden in French style was laid out and a dovecote was built. His descendants owned the castle for the next 225 years.
In 1793 Esquelbecq Castle also experienced the fury of the patriots. Everything that reminded them of the Ancien Regime was looted, broken or removed. In the beginning of the 19th century the castle was ruined by battle and 15 days of enemy occupation. The Guernonval family abandoned it and finally sold it in 1821 to Louis Colombier, a Lille trader.
In 1984 the central tower of Esquelbecq Castle collapsed probably because of bad maintenance.
Esquelbecq Castle is private property and can not be visited. Too bad. It looks as if the castle is being renovated in a modern way.