intoHistory, geschiedenis beleven in authentieke logies
Just renovated from top to bottom, the radiant Tharoul Chateau is just the place for family get-togethers or residential seminars – as long as you are able to make up the numbers! This venerable establishment exudes a true sense of history and the facilities it provides have been well thought out for the convenience of all its guests. You will love its luminous interiors, natural setting and cultural ambiance as well as the wide range of activities it offers even on rainy days.
© Château de Tharoul
The little hamlet of Tharoul certainly has roots in the far distant past. The red clay, with its considerable component of iron, extracted in the valley, has fed generations of brick-makers.
The chateau’s ponds is all that remains of the old clay excavations.
Although the archives mention the existence of a fortification on the site of the Tharoul chateau in the 15th century, traces of a keep, believed to date from the 11th century, have been found in the cellars. The last Lord of Tharoul, who had no heirs, bequeathed the domain to his niece, Marie-Thérèse de Joncq, who married the marquis Louis de Radiguès Saint Guédal de Chennevière, one of the generals in Louis XV’s armies. He it was who built the current chateau in 1752, employing soldiers from his Lorraine regiments.
This beautifully proportioned chateau sports one of the finest Louis XV facades in Belgium.
The farm buildings, whose wing is perpendicular to the Tharoul chateau, are the oldest part (with the exception of the stables rebuilt in the 19th century). Just a few of the window bays have been widened in keeping with the new style. You will see that the original entrance to the chateau used to face the valley, with the old road passing along the edge of the wood, beyond the river.
The current entrance gateway used to give onto the farm courtyard. © Château de Tharoul
To the east of the Tharoul chateau, a little hexagonal tower may well have served as a watchtower, at the time when access to the domain was via the valley. Its lower level seems to have occasionally served as a prison. The story goes that a hunter was imprisoned there after having accidentally killed the chatelaine’s son. More recent graffiti also suggest that members of the Resistance may have been sequestered there during the Second World War.
Was this curious and solitary little tower which overlooks the valley, used to control access to the chateau?
The property remained in the hands of the Radiguès family until 1900 when the industrialist Morren bought the lands of Bagatelle (near by), built a chateau there in 1896 and purchased the Tharoul seigneury (with the aim of re-utilising various features from the chateau). Later, the property passed through a variety of different hands, belonging to the Bouhon family from 1953 to 2010. Today Mr and Mrs J. van de Put have taken possession of the domain and converted it into a holiday residence.
Armband of the Secret Army (zone 5), which took up combat positions in Tharoul following the announcement of the arrival of Allied troops © Mc Los – Carentan Liberty Group
In September 1944, a fierce battle took place in the surrounding pastures and woods, following a munitions airdrop for the Resistance. This was the battle of Bagatelle where members of the Resistance fought against SS soldiers from the “Adolf Hitler” division and some ten Resistance fighters lost their lives. Several German grenades have since come to light, following the dredging of the pond.
What strikes you as you reach Tharoul, are the elegant windows adorned with blue shutters. The top of each arched window is decorated with a different carved Rococo style motif. Typical old windows, with their characteristic imperfect panes of glass, diffract the light.
Right above the main facade, the sole raison d’être of an imposing curved pediment would seem to be to display the Radiguès-Tharoul coat of arms, carved between two bull’s eye windows.
Just below the cornice, take a look at the alignment of small square holes surrounded by masonry. These are «putlog holes» used to attach the scaffolding needed when roofing work or repairs to the facade were required. They are rarely of such fine workmanship.
The terrace and two staircases lead to the valley and the ponds, where you can enjoy a beautiful vista of the Tharoul chateau. What better than a morning walk to catch the rays of the sun or appreciate the trees at the end of the day as they cast long shadows in the park.
Today this celebrated general seems to be blessed by the dove of the Holy Ghost in the chapel closet.
The Tharoul chateau is designed round a vast entrance hall, a grand orientation space with doors and corridors around the sides, a pattern repeated on each floor and in the basement. Its stucco floral motifs are sober and elegant and the marble flagstones are typical of the region. There are two staircases, set slightly back on both sides of this central space, with views of the salon and the terrace.
Visitors are curious about the martial bust in the concealed chapel. It is of général Brialmont, ancestor of the current owner, and designer of the powerful chain of forts built around Antwerp, Liege and Namur at the end of the 19th century.
The considerable renovation work undertaken by Mr and Mrs van de Put (and their architect F. de Bonhome) respects the ethos of this fine building of the Age of the Enlightenment, whose proportions are shown to full advantage through the pristine whiteness of its walls. Set against this luminous background, the parquet, door frames and ancient beams, as well as the stucco features, look elegant. The fireplaces, often remarkable in their own way, also have an integral role to play in this setting.
Water and sanitation, lighting and modern features are subtly incorporated into this sober decor, highlighted by the light-blue and taupe nuances of the furnishing fabrics. The furniture is a harmonious mix-match of armchairs, tables and period cupboards with modern, clean-line fittings.
While respecting cultural heritage, a few bright touches are permitted …
Each room features a wildlife photograph taken in the surrounding area by the owner.
The Tharoul chateau stands out in the heart of a totally unspoiled hamlet, which has been restored and is devoted mainly to agriculture. It is an exceptional environment thanks to its calm, charm and unspoiled countryside with pasture land, woods and ponds scattered over a steep valley. The bees in the apiarist owner’s five hives produce a honey which is a favourite with guests. Various rare breeds of birds nest near the pond: kingfishers, little grebes and great egrets. Black storks have been spotted during the migratory season.
This little corner of Condroz, unfamiliar to tourists, offers very beautiful views of nature and typical villages built in the local limestone. Many old Liegeois families have built a chateau in this region with its rich soils, forests and pasture land. Traditional local skills (particularly culinary specialties and brewing) are still very much alive.
The Château de Modave, an impressive medieval castle, perched on a 60 m high promontory, was rebuilt in the 18th century. Special features: its grounds and ingenious hydraulic pumping system, probably designed by Rennequin Sualem, the celebrated creator of the Machine of Marly (which fed the fountains in Versailles).
The Avouerie d’Anthisnes offers a panorama of the history of the region, set up in its listed 12th century keep and beautiful 17th century expanses.
© Province de Liège
The Domaine provincial de Jehay is also a destination to be highlighted: its chateau (attacked several times during the Middle Ages) and its grounds are remarkable. It is a pity that its inside locations are temporarily closed for renovation work.
The town of Huy, along the river Meuse is equally proud of its history with its splendid collegiate church of Our Lady, its age-old medieval and Renaissance houses and vestiges of its industrial past (iron-working, pewter casting, goldsmithing, paper manufacture and cloth…) and its old fort converted into a citadel.
The collegiate church’s famous rose window, the “Rondia”, is a source of pride to the people of Huy © Paul Pichota
To complete your immersion in the 18th century, Mr and Mrs van de Put recommend that their guests bring with them several particularly evocative pieces of music which will be a admirable accompaniment to this journey back in time:
– « Rondeau des Indes Galantes », (The Amorous Indies) by Jean-Christophe Rameau
– « Coronation Anthems », by Georg Friedrich Handel
– « Concerto for Mandolin », by Antonio Vivaldi
Un accueil formidable, dans ce grand château rénové avec tant de goût. Dans la lumière du soleil ou dans l’intimité de l’éclairage nocturne, chaque salon, chaque couloir, chaque chambre apparaît plus séduisant que le précédent. Un vrai coup de coeur !
Le décor nu et blanc des murs diffère sûrement de celui qui existait il y a une centaine d’années, mais ce parti-pris de dépouillement met bien en valeur les volumes du château, les anciennes moulures et les boiseries. Il focalise l’oeil sur les quelques oeuvres retenues pour orner les murs. Un choix cohérent avec la décision prise de louer le bien dans son ensemble. Les hôtes ne s'invitent pas dans un espace habité, c’est à eux qu’il est proposé d'habiter le château pendant la durée de leur séjour…
Je me réjouis d'avoir un beau grand événement familial à fêter pour pouvoir profiter pleinement de tous les charmes de cette grande demeure si attachante. A recommander sans hésiter !
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Château de Tharoul
Mr and Mrs J. van de Put
rue de Tharoul 6
Tel +32 475 833 447
Chateau’s own website
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