Most mysterious places around the world - 5: Miranda Castle
Castle Miranda has stood in Celles since 1866, Belgium, but has long been abandoned to decay and rot. It is an urban explorer’s dream, and one such individual went in and documented the sad and eerie state it is in today. The ancestors of the family that own it fled to Celles during the French Revolution to hide in a farmhouse, and as the family grew they commissioned this wonderful castle from famed English architect Milner.
The castle is also known as Chateau Noisy after the children’s home it was turned into – following the Second World War – by the National Railway Company of Belgium for the children of employees. It stayed a children’s home until 1980 and has been abandoned since 1991.
Château de Noisy is a beautiful castle in the open lands of Belgium. The former ‘holiday camp’ is in a heavy state of disrepair and despite several offers, the owners refuse to sell it. It has suffered heavily from vandalism and the details from the interior have been removed to be used in another castle. Château de Noisy is one of the most beautiful locations we have seen. As of December, 2013 – the owners of Château de Noisy have formally applied for licence to demolish this heritage castle.
During the French revolution the Count Liedekerke-Beaufort and his family, who we very much involved in Belgian politics, fled their home, Château de Vêves, to a secluded farm in the forest on the outskirts of the village in 1792. Upon the ending of the revolution, the English architect Edward Milner, was commissioned in 1866 by the Liedekerke-Beaufort family to design and build a castle on the land.
Château de Noisy was to be built with many towers, conical roofs, and other Neo-Gothic details, with approximately 500 windows. Milner did not get to finish the castle as he died before the building was completed. The building was continued by the French architect Pelchner, extending the Château largely.
The clocktower was finished in 1903 and is 183 feet tall, and 1907 saw the completion of building activity. Initially Chateau Miranda, boasting beautifully landscaped gardens, served the family Liedekerke de Beaufort as a summer residence.
During the Ardennen offensive in World War II, the château was briefly occupied by German troops. During the Battle of the Bulge, there was also fighting on the property.
From 1950 the castle was taken over by the National Railway Company of Belgium(NMBS) as a ‘holiday camp’ for children who suffered from ill health. Around this time, the castle was named Home de Noisy or Château de Noisy. Equipped with 200 places the ‘holiday camp’ gave shelter to the children, providing fresh air, a fabulous playground and healthy food.
The regime at Home de Noisy was strict, it was run by female officials and the children dressed uniformly. In the square between the outbuildings a small football pitch was set up and the fountain in the garden was converted into a swimming pool. These were of various nationalities and language regions: French and Flemish children between 5 and 14 from Belgium and during the holiday season, children from Italy. After 1970 it was used for outdoor activities and sport holidays for children, and became well known in Belgium.
In the 1990′s the owners began to search for investors, with the desire to transform the Château into a hotel. Due to the rising costs of maintenance and refurbishment, the plans failed and the Château was abandoned in 1991. In 1995 a fire claimed part of the roof, and shortly after this the owner removed the hardwood floors, fireplaces and Italian blue marble to use in the neighbouring farm and another castle in Italy. In 2006 a violent storm, caused the stable roof to collapse.
Despite the municipality of Celles making an offer to take it over, the family has refused. The enormous building is now (as of 2011) in a derelict state. It has become a favorite venue of urban explorers.
After more than 20 years of decay, a request for demolition was filed in December 2013. The main motivation of this demand seems to be the vulnerable state of the building and the accompanying risks for the numerous people/photographers visiting the premises to get a glimpse of this old beauty hidden in the woods.
Although the current situation is far from ideal and safety risks are undoubtedly present, a demolition of Chateau de Noisy would be a very shameful final step. This place breathes Belgian and European history, and notwithstanding the fact that many parts of the building are in a terrible state, the architectural beauty of this castle is indisputable. The Swiss newspaper ‘Tribune de Genève’ recently selected it as one of the most beautiful abandoned places in the world (link).
A solution has to be found for the current unsafe and unorganised situation, but other options to preserve this beautiful building must be considered instead of letting bulldozers level it to the ground.
A petition exists, in order to save the beautiful Miranda Castle from demolition. If you care to sign it, please click here!
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