intoHistory, geschiedenis beleven in authentieke logies
The Bruchhausen estate is an old lordship whose lands are home to a fortified Iron Age settlement, and some remarkable volcanic rocks. Its listed castle-manor house dates back to the 12th century. An artisanal brewery, a museum of peasant life, an exhibition of horse-drawn carriages of another era, a terrace café, a visitors’ centre and a sumptuous rose garden are among its many attractions. You will find your (renovated) holiday apartment in the bailiff’s house, an elegant, 18th century, half-timbered building.
The Rentei, which houses the holiday duplex rental, is the estate’s agriculture and forestry administration centre. © Schloss Bruchhausen
Bruchhausen is one of the oldest lordships in North Rhine-Westphalia. Archival documentation of 1144 indicates the existence of a tower on the Hesse border, which two centuries later, made way for a real castle with a moat and drawbridge. Today, this carefully maintained fortified estate exudes an air of peace and serenity, but it played an important defensive role, in the 16th and 17th centuries when tensions between Catholics and Protestants were very high.
Although today, the castle-manor house has been adapted to modern life, one can tell from the height and the thickness of its walls that it was once an imposing military structure.© Schloss Bruchhausen
Bruchhausen manor was altered many times during the 19th and 20th centuries, but its defence structure can be seen clearly in the architectural plans (basement and ground floor).
Since the castle’s construction by Baron von Bruchhausen, many noble families succeeded to the property. Barons von Gaugreben, von Lüninck, and von Fürstenberg are names that recur in its history – a history shaped by the management of its extensive lands, as witnessed by the impressive half-timbered farmyard buildings. The Rentei (1788), the bailiff’s house, now serves as the administrative offices for the management of the estate’s farmlands and forest, and also houses the holiday apartment conversion in the old part of the building.
This 18th century etching clearly shows the Rentei with its mansard roof, at the centre of the manor’s outbuildings.
The castle-manor house itself is not open to the public. However, Baron von Fürstenberg will be happy to give you the history of the estate, if you ask him.
© Stiftung Bruchhauser Steine
You are bound to have noticed the four huge rocks that stand out from the wooded mountainside behind the castle-manor house. These are volcanic rocks of (370 million years old) porphyry, a material that has fascinated man since the beginning of time. The site was also home to an oppidum, a Celtic, fortified settlement, over 2500 years old, whose characteristic walls and ditches, unearthed by archaeologists, were constructed between the rocks forming a quadrangle of over 20 acres.
The internal wood and stone ramparts discovered round the “Bruchhauser Steine” are typical of early Iron Age oppidum settlements. © Stiftung Bruchhauser Steine
In conjunction with the North Rhine-Westphalia state, Baron Hubert von Fürstenberg, the present owner of Bruchhausen, has created a foundation to maintain and to put this exceptional site on the map. The park is notable for its fauna and flora, and nature enthusiasts will be able to watch for peregrine falcons and eagle owls.
Legend has it that there was a fifth rock on the mountain that was struck by lightning. As it broke up and fell, it engulfed one of the then lord’s daughters; as a punishment, it was said, for sneaking out of her convent to attend her sister’s wedding.
The Rentei (or Rentmeisterei) was sacked by the peasant populace in 1848 during the March Revolution. Fortunately, its massive framework of carved beams and its elegant gambrel roof have survived. However, the interior has been modernized many times and is less evocative of the past. It is more the estate’s historic setting that will carry you back in time.
Two sides of the castle-manor house are also half-timber constructions. © Schloss Bruchhausen
© Schloss Bruchhausen
The large building adjacent to the Rentei, today houses the manor’s artisanal brewery. Bornsteiner beer (lager or special), recognizable by its logo of the Fürstenberg-Gaugreben family crest, has many enthusiastic followers. The café with its large terrace lends itself admirably to a tasting of this country brew with a good, foamy head! The von Fürstenberg family also invite you to visit the small museum of peasant life, with its collection of artisanal tools and original farm machinery, as well as the exhibition of period caleches and sleighs. And what about the heady, perfumed air in summer? This comes from a thousand roses – special varieties that are also for sale. Further down, there is a large fish pond with a fisherman’s cottage.
View from behind the “Meierei” (dairy), with its café, its terrace and abundant rose garden. © Reila
The Bruchhauser Steine park is a protected archaeological and cultural site as well as a geological and natural conservation area. There are professional guides for many of the numerous activities and discovery circuits – climbing trail, bird watching, archaeological visits, geological explorations, an introduction to brewing, and other family diversions. You can find all the information you need at the visitors’ centre.
Bruchhausen village offers some great attractions (see video) too, such as the paragliding launch pad, whose landing pad is just a few steps from the Bruchhausen estate.
Sauerland is a very popular holiday destination with the Germans. In summer, its vast, wild forests are the delight of walkers and cyclists, and in winter, the snowy mountains are a great attraction for winter sports enthusiasts. We give a special mention to the Rothaarsteig trail, and the bobsleigh track at Bruchhausen. The region offers a wide range of ski slopes, sports complexes, and recreation and wellness centres, such as those at Willingen and Winterberg.
To fully appreciate the period atmosphere at the Bruchhausen estate, enrich your stay by listening to a little 18th century German music, such as one of Christoph Willibald Gluck’s operas (extract) or one of his evocative symphonies (extract).
For those who enjoy German literature, Die Judenbuch was written by Annette von Dorst-Hülshoff whose stay in the manor at the beginning of the 19th century inspired her to paint a vivid picture, in words and verse, of life in the Westphalian mountains at this time. Read her description of the estate (page 1 and page 2 – in German).
We had a wonderful time at the Rentei. We loved the atmosphere, truly authentic, not staged or contrived, one feels it is still inhabited by the family, and what a family! It was the loveliest way to step back in time, feeling we were welcomed. The rooms are charming, the furniture beautiful, the views magnificent ( on the castle and on the mountain), and the bathrooms comfortably old fashioned! Lovely place! We also highly recommend the visit to the brewery, delicious beer!
We spent a wonderful week in Bruchhausen. We received a hearty welcome and lots of useful tips and information from the family. The house is cosy and elegant. You directly forget the busy world outside when you enter it. It's like going back into History. Lots of true charm and atmosphere. The sorroundings are amazing. Ideal also for families, Natural reserves and mountains nearby, Definitely authentic and fantastic holidays,
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Schloss Bruchhausen Rentei
Freiherr von Fürstenberg-Gaugreben
Gaugreben’scher Weg 3
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