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Laarne Castle

Laarne Castle is a14th-century moated castle situated south-east of Ghent on a flat marshland.

About 1150–57 Thierry de Masmines built a fortified house there, elements of which survive in the present castle. The building has been heavily modified, especially during the 17th century.

The Laarne Castle is built of Baelegem stone, the oldest parts in large squared blocks and the 15th-century parts in well-cut ashlar, while the 17th-century section is mediocre.

Laarne Castle History of construction

The Laarne Castle proper was built at the beginning of the 14th century when the fortified house was converted into the entrance block. It consisted of a square donjon (on the north), three cylindrical towers (at the north-west, east and south-east corners) and a dwelling situated between the donjon and the eastern tower, with a complete wall-walk on top of the curtain walls.

Each tower has a staircase turret; the ground-floors are lit by loopholes, and their two upper storeys have two-light windows; the ground-floor is roofed with a low domical vault, the middle storey with a rib vault, the upper one with a wooden ceiling. The towers are crenellated and covered by an octagonal pepper-pot roof of stone. The donjon on the north side is a sturdy construction of three storeys.

The lower storey is divided by a central column and is lit by loopholes and cannon loops. The chapel on the middle floor is vaulted with ribs springing from corbels and was originally lit by two lancets; the removal in 1911 of the 17th-century decoration and the cordovan that was hung on the walls revealed paintings datable possibly to the 14th century representing the Apostles, a Nativity, the Murder of Abel and the Sacrifice of Isaac; there is also a fine piscina.

On the upper floor of the donjon is the ‘Salle de Justice’, which must have served as the lord’s lodgings; the stone corbels mark the original level of the wooden roof. The crenellations of the donjon have been bricked up, and its high pyramidal roof is surmounted by a watch-tower.

The domestic buildings belong to different periods, and they have been much altered, mostly in the 17th century when the van Vilsteren family acquired the property and began to transform thecastle into a comfortable residence. The east tower (now in the middle of the east façade) was made into the new entrance, and the wall linking it with the south-east tower was demolished to make room for the building south of the entrance.

The façades overlooking the moat were built in stone, that towards the courtyard is in brick with stone mouldings; each floor is taken up by a large chamber, the flanges of whose ceiling beams are carved with the arms of the owners. On the court side a gallery with a vault on sculptured corbels leads to the old range of apartments. There is a splendid portal in the middle of the rear façade.

In 1794 the castle was inherited by the Comte de Ribaucourt. It remained in the Ribaucourt family until 1953, when it was given to the Association Royale des Demeures Historiques. Uninhabited since 1832, from 1964 it has been restored and refurnished. It now houses the collection of silver-plate bequeathed by Claude D’Allemagne, and also other temporary exhibitions are held in Laarne castle.

Laarne Castle Map&Location

Laarne Castle is located in the village with the same name, south-east of the city of Ghent, Belgium. Get help with directions using this map.

View Laarne Castle in a larger map

Laarne Castle Photos

Laarne Castle 
Laarne Castle

Laarne Castle Belgium
Laarne Castle Belgium

Laarne Den Blakken
Laarne Den Blakken Access

Laarne Castle courtyard
Laarne Castle courtyard

Laarne Castle view
Laarne Castle view

Visit Laarne Castle

Access to the Laarne castle, which has a pentagonal plan, is now on the eastern side through a cour d’honneur, its corners marked by pavilions and the enclosure walls pierced centrally by four portals leading respectively to the exterior, the outbuildings, the grounds and, in the fourth side, a fixed bridge that was substituted for a drawbridge, which leads to the castle itself.

The original fortified entrance is on the west side, a rectangular three-storey block with a staircase turret at its south-east corner. Remains of the original construction in the basement of the forebuilding survive, a Tournai ‘marble’ column supporting vaults with (later) brick ribs and corbels dating from the end of the 12th century or beginning of the 13th supporting the lintel of the entrance portal.

At ground-level a bridge gives access to a pointed-arch doorway. On either side of the passage are rooms with fireplaces, vaulted in the 16th century when the stepped brick gables were also built. There is evidence that the building was originally two storeys higher.