lunes, 13 de agosto de 2012

Castle of Mesen

 Built and destroyed many times, what remains from this building dates mainly from the beginning of the 17th century. In the middle of a pretty public park of 7 hectares, the castle has a lot of outbuildings like stables and an orangery. After 1796, the castle was not used as a living place anymore. During the next century, the castle was used for the local industry A gin distillery, a sugar refinery, a potash refinery and a tobacco factory took place in the caves of the castle. Still a lot of machines remain there. 
In 1897 the castle was sold to a religious order that built the impressive neo-gothic chapel. After the First World War an institution bought the complex and established a school for the local children. A new aisle was added, the nice Dutch pavilion, and also a school.

Lede Boarding School (1914-1970)

This boarding school was first located in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France, founded by Mrs de Maintenon. After its destruction, it moved to Lede in Belgium. The teaching was performed in French. Only female students here, the school is reserved to the penniless aristocracy. Later on, militaries daughters were allowed.

The education was very 18th century oriented: strict and rigorous. The motto was "I'd maintain". For instance, the girls had to greet their teachers with a curtsey performed in three movements when they entered in the classrooms. Then when the teacher went out, the pupils stood up and made another curtsey while saying "Miss, we thank you for the lessons you taught us".
The school was financed by the Belgian aristocracy. The Boël baroness, Miss Carton de Villard among many others. The pupils paid also an expensive tribute.
The days started up early. At 6am they had to wake up and wash. After the 7pm mass, the breakfast and the lessons followed. The mass was given by an external priest, no religious person was allowed to stay inside the school. The chapel, nowadays in a derelict state, had a beautiful long blue carpet in the center alley, with an heraldic lily painted on it.

The education was particularly refined: the girls had to know everything to behave in the high society and in 'great houses'. Learning how to receive important persons but also being able to manage employees, while being able to perform any housework. This on top of the primary and secondary lessons. Actually, one started the school at the age of 5 to finish at 18 years old! The professors taught principles such as "Misses, if you have the chance to manage employees, it is absolutely necessary that you can do everything they can do, at least as well as you expect from them. And if you don't, well this would be at least extremely useful for your family and yourself".

150 pupils lived there. The studies were extremely well followed. The girls received one visit per month, and were allowed to go back home only one month per year.
The leisure? Reading, walking in the country, and gym.

Each 5-6 years old pupil was patroned by a 12 to 18 years old girl who was responsible of her. She had to guide her little one and take care of her, for example watch out her clothes and behavior. The little girls slept in dormitory rooms while the oldest ones had private rooms, equipped of baths.


Problems appear then; Then the problems arose: the castle belongs in 1970 to the Ministry of Defence that let the complex rot. Costs for restoration became so high that it was refused to list the castle as a historical monument.
Associations are fighting for a rehabilitation, but as often money and procedures problems impeach any action to be taken. Still it remains a quiet and peaceful place to explore, although dangerous because everything is collapsing. Sad...
Greatness and decline is the motto here... The location gets more and more vandalized. A place that keeps its own char that we tried to revive by these ancient pictures. Happy exploring.

Many thanks to Mr Guy André de Pauw for all his invaluable information regarding this location and his old pictures.
In memory of his late mother, pupil at the boarding school from 1925 to 1938.

Now lets enter this magnificent castle...

The Chapel

 Photos and information via Forbidden Places

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