Once a Royal Castle – Beverweerd

Who sees this tiny castle now wouldn’t think it actually was once a real royal castle. Beverweerd Castle (also Beverweert) on the edge of the village of Werkhoven, Province of Utrecht, The Netherlands, does however have a long history.

In the two pictures above on the left you see the castle, on the two pictures on the right you see the former coach-house.

The eldest parts of the castle – the rectangular tower block – was already built in the 13th century. Soon afterwards the towers on the south- and westside were built. Other additions are from the 16th and 17th century. In the 19th century the architect Christiaan Kramm modernized the building in neo-gotic style. The white plaster was removed in 1934, but added again in 2010. The estate is more than 400 hectare and exists of agricultural land, pasture land, wood and orchards. There are eleven farms with yellow, green and red shutters.

The first known inhabitant of the castle was a knight called Zweder van Zuylen in 1274. Afterwards his second wife Bertha van Brakel inherited and married Gijsbrecht van Ruwiel. Their daughter Machteld married first Otto van IJsselstein and secondly Zweder van Vianen. The heiress Johanna van Vianen died in 1502 and left Beverweerd to her son Daniël van Bouchout. Daniëls daughter, Maria van Bouchout (also Bouchet) married Hugo de Lannoy. Her granddaughter Anna Countess van Buren married in 1551, as his first wife, William Prince of Orange, Count of Nassau-Dillenburg (1533-1584). The marriage was a rather happy one and before she died Anna had three children: Maria († young), Philips Willem and Maria.

It was Annas son Philips Willem who inherited Beverweerd in 1563 from his great-grandmother and it remained in his possession until his death in 1618. As he had no wife or children, the manor in 1620 was left to his also unmarried half-brother Prince Maurits. When Maurits died in 1625 it was his illegitimate son Lodewijk who inherited the manor. His descendants took the name of Nassau-Beverweerd and the manor was owned by this family for 150 years. The family mainly resided in The Hague. When Henriette Jeanne Suzanna Marie countess van Nassau-La Lecq in 1782 married Hendrik Jacob Carel Johan baron van Heeckeren the manor came into the possession of the Van Heeckeren family, which it remained until 1938 when Marguerite Christine Countess van Rechteren-Limpurg née Baroness van Heeckeren died.The castle was inherited by her daughter Lutgardis who married Constantin Friedrich Count zu Castell-Castell.The manor in 1989 was inherited by her daughter Odylia, who was married to Prince Heinrich III Reuss (1919-1993).

Lutgardis however in 1958 sold the castle and its surrounding garden to a Foundation for Quaker Schools in the Netherlands who turned the castle into the International Quaker School Beverweerd, from 1971 to 1997 the International School Beverweerd. For several years the building stood empty. In 2004 squatters shortly took possession of the castle, but they were removed by the police.Soon after the castle was sold to the Stichting Philadelphia Vegetarisch Centrum. Plans to build care facilities and apartments for older vegetarians were never realised. And the Foundation has tried to sell the buildings already for years. Both in 2010 and 2015  potential buyers had to withdraw last minute. So if you have enough money left for further renovation and maintenance …

Since 2004 the painter and art forger Geert Jan Jansen lives and works at the castle. Where in the past as far as I remember you couldn’t get very close to the castle, and just could have a look from the road, nowadays the castle sometimes is open. The castle is used as exhibition space and outside these hours you might be able to get an appointment to have a look. I visited in September on “Open Monumentendag” (Open Monuments Day) as I accidentally discovered it was open on this day too. Surprisingly busy and there was theatre, drinks and food. Apart from the hall downstairs nothing was open, but it was nice to finally after all these years of researching the Nassau family I finally made it inside.

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