The ravishing, abandoned Chateau Noisy, Belgium. My first overseas urbex…
Featured in ‘Mysteries of the Past and Present’, August 2011.
‘Bavarian Gentians’ by D H Lawrence.
Not every man has gentians in his house
in soft September, at slow, sad Michaelmas.
Bavarian gentians, big and dark, only dark
darkening the daytime, torch-like, with the smoking blueness of Pluto’s gloom,
ribbed and torch-like, with their blaze of darkness spread blue down flattening into points, flattened under the sweep of white day
torch-flower of the blue-smoking darkness, Pluto’s dark-blue daze,
black lamps from the halls of Dis, burning dark blue,
giving off darkness, blue darkness, as Demeter’s pale lamps give off light,
lead me then, lead the way.
Reach me a gentian, give me a torch!
let me guide myself with the blue, forked torch of this flower
down the darker and darker stairs, where blue is darkened on blueness
even where Persephone goes, just now, from the frosted September
to the sightless realm where darkness is awake upon the dark
and Persephone herself is but a voice
or a darkness invisible enfolded in the deeper dark
of the arms Plutonic, and pierced with the passion of dense gloom,
among the splendor of torches of darkness, shedding darkness on
the lost bride and her groom.
Some loose research has revealed the following: The official name of the castle is Chateau Miranda, it was only later named Chateau Noisy. The architecture is in the Neo-Gothic style and was established in 1866 by an English architect named Milner, commissioned by the Liedekerke-Beaufort family. Unfortunately Milner died before seeing it completed.
The castle served in the beginning as a summer residence of the Liedekerke-Beaufort family who otherwise lived in the Chateau de Veves which stands opposite on an adjacent hill, both castles surrounded by lush forests and rivers. In the Second World War, Chateau Noisy was taken and used by the Nazis. Following this the Chateau then served as accommodation for children of Belgian rail employees (National Railway Company of Belgium; NMBS) as a holiday hostel and orphanage until 1980. Little is known of its fate from 1980-1991.
Now, however, since 1991 it has lain abandoned in an ever-diminishing state due to a fire in that year. It is reported that although the local municipality has offered to take it over, the family has refused. What is certain is that the enormous building languishes in the surrounding forest, completely concealed from the road and the outside world. It truly is a site full of beauty and mystery.
(Note: the site is heavily and actively guarded by security patrols and an armed forester, both of whom we saw but thankfully didn’t see us, and is atop a very steep hill making access very difficult!)