Leeuwergem Castle Park before 1761
Leeuwergem Castle Park during 1763-1775/85, part I
Leeuwergem Castle Park during 1763-1775/85, part II
Leeuwergem Castle Foliage Theatre
Leeuwergem Castle Park during 1785-1807, part I
Leeuwergem Castle Park during 1785-1807, part II
Leeuwergem Castle Park in 19th/20th centuries
City of Zottegem
|Cities, Towns and Villages of South-East-Flanders|
Acknowledgement to: Koenraad DE WOLF,
Zuid-Oost-Vlaanderen. Barok, Rococo & Classicisme (1625-1800)|
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The domain of Leeuwergem Castle, one of the most important 18th century architectural realisations in Flanders, is located
nearby the junction of the road Gent-Geraardsbergen and the road Aalst-Oudenaarde in Zottegem, a city in the south of the
Province of East-Flanders in Belgium.
The 32 hectares large domain does not only owe its fame to the castle itself. The castle park is renowned for its interesting combination of
a classical French-style garden, including a foliage theater unique for Belgium, and a romantic English garden. Both castle
and park have been designated an important cultural asset by the Government of Belgium on July 10, 1973. The domain is
ELENE AND LEEUWERGEM
The domain of Leeuwergem Castle is mainly located in the village of Elene (now part of the City of Zottegem). Only the
southern part is located in the village of Leeuwergem. Nevertheless, the domain has been called "Leeuwergem Castle" since
the Middle Ages.
A change of feudal rights ownership in the 11th-12th century led to this rather odd situation. At that time, the Lords of
Zottegem became the owners of the domanial rights of the Lower Court (neerhof) of Elene. The Lords of Zottegem enjoyed
already the feudal rights on the domain of Leeuwergem, which they owned as allodium. Since then, the Lower Court of Elene
became the seat of the domanial and feudal rights on both Elene and Leeuwergem, and the domain became known as
"Court of Leeuwergem". Consequently, the castle that was built nearto the Lower Court in the 15th century, was named
Acknowledgement to: Koenraad DE WOLF,
Zuid-Oost-Vlaanderen. Barok, Rococo & Classicisme (1625-1800)
THE THREE CASTLES OF LEEUWERGEM
During the first half of the 15th century, the Lords of Elene and Leeuwergem built an Upper Court next to the Lower Court (1).
Not much is known of this Upper Court castle, except that it probably was a medieval fortress and that it was in a
deplorable state in 1600, after the religious troubles in Flanders.
In 1625, the family van Laloo constructed a second castle. In 1707, ownership of this castle passed on to Louis Frans d'Heyne
(1673-1719), a patrician from the City of Gent. Several 19th and 20th century authors claim that L.F. d'Heyne demolished
this castle in order to build a third castle (the current remaining one) that was finished in 1724. F. Gerard, a historian
from Gent, published this version in in 1853 (2), followed by De Potter and Broekaert (3) and numerous castle publications,
touristic brochures and so on. Art historians pointed out, however, that the Louis XV-style of Leeuwergem Castle did not
enter Belgium before 1730. On that basis, some authors put forward 1745 as potential date of construction (4).
Sources discovered in 1999 show clearly that nowadays Leeuwergem Castle was constructed in the period 1762-64 by order of
Count Pieter Emmanuel Joseph d'Hane from Gent. Master builder was Jean Baptiste Simoens, the most important building
contractor in Gent during the second half of 18th century. Craftsmen from Gent and local labourers carried out the
interior work. The architect is still unknown, nor have the building plans been found. However, there are good reasons
to believe that Leeuwergem Castle is a copy of Bellevue Castle in Meudon, a suburb town of Paris (5).
"Le Chateau de Bellevue" was built in 1748-1750 by order of Madame de Pompadour (1721-1764). It was the only castle built
by the official mistress of King Louis XV. It was located high on the left bank of the River Seine, about
eleven kilometers from the centre of Paris. Madame de Pompadour often visited the building area and contributed greatly to
its realisation. Architect was Jean II Cailleteau, also called Lassurance (1690-1755), his majesty's building work
controller under King Louis XV and one of the most important architects of France around 1750. He designed the Elysee,
the current official residence of the French president. The garden lay-out of the Bellevue Castle was in the hands of
Bellevue was Madame de Pompadour's favorite castle. The French king Louis XV, too, loved to stay at the castle. In 1757,
he bought it from his mistress and got it enlarged. During the French Revolution, Bellevue castle was looted. In 1823,
the castle was demolished and its park cut up into lots.
Main source: Koenraad DE WOLF and Ignace DE TEMMERMAN, article entitled "Het parkdomein van
Leeuwergem: een historische reconstructie" (The Castle Park of Leeuwergem: a historical reconstruction) in
"Monumenten en Landschappen" (Monuments and Landscapes), bimonthly of the Ministry of Flanders
(Ministerie van de Vlaamse Gemeenschap), Division of Monuments and Landscapes (Afdeling Monumenten en Landschappen),
edition 19/3, Brussels, May-June 2000, pp. 6-27.
De Wolf and De Temmerman are refering to following sources in their article:
(1) Ignace DE TEMMERMAN, article entitled "Een nieuw licht op de datering van het oudste kasteel van Leeuwergem"
in "Handelingen van het Zottegems Genootschap voor Geschiedenis en Oudheidkunde", edition IV, Zottegem, 1989,
(2) F. GERARD, "Histoire des anciens seigneuries de Leeuwergem et d'Elene", Gent, 1853, p. 78.
(3) F. DE POTTER and J. BROEKAERT, "De Geschiedenis van de gemeenten der provincie Oost-Vlaanderen", part V, 3, 6,
"Leeuwergem, Gent, 1897, p. 25.
(4) 1745 was first mentioned as construction date by E. POUMON, Chateaux de Flandre, Vilvoorde, 1975, planche VIII.
(5) Ignace DE TEMMERMAN and Koen DE WOLF, article entitled "Lodewijk XV en Madame de Pompadour in Leeuwergem"
(Louis XV and Lady de Pompadour in Leeuwergem) in "Het Land van Aalst", edition 52, 2000, 2.