Castle Wolvenhof, also known by many as Château Du Loup, was designed by J. Vercoutere and constructed between 1912 and 1914 for the industrialist, Gaspard Vanden Bogaerde. It was one of two castles built in the area. With the outbreak of World War One, Bogaerde and his brother Émile, the owner of the second castle, volunteered to enlist in the Belgian army and they were subsequently sent away to fight. While they were away, German forces commandeered the buildings and the site was converted into a prison camp and a small airfield named Flugplatz Abeele. Towards the end of the war, Castle Wolvenhof sustained a significant amount of damage as much of the wood, including the very expensive floorboards, was torn out and used as firewood. Following the German defeat, the two brothers returned to their properties and spent the next few years renovating them. The Bogaerde families continued to live in the castles long after the Second World War. However, in 1999, both buildings were sold to the city and the grounds were opened as a public park.
Today, although it is a heritage building, Castle Wolvenhof is abandoned. Yet, after someone, presumably the city, invested 322,500 euros in the property in 2016, restoration work has begun. The aim of the project is to bring back the building and return it to its former glory. It is unknown what purpose the building will serve once the restoration work is complete; one source suggests it will remain a central part of the park in which it is situated.
Our Version of Events
Although we’d just returned from New Zealand and had barely set foot on English soil, we decided that a new trip was in order, to make the most of the good summer weather Europe has been experiencing. So, with an epic explore in mind, somewhere along the Maginot Line, we decided to travel through Belgium to reach it. Our decision to visit Belgium was twofold: we could see a few abandoned sites along the way, and drink lots of Belgian beer.
The first stop on our travels, mainly for a quick break after driving from the north east, was the legendary Château Du Loup. Surprisingly, finding it was easier than we’d imagined, and gaining access wasn’t as hard as we’d anticipated. However, no sooner had we stepped inside the building did we set off an alarm. From the inside, though, it didn’t seem to sound too loud, so we decided to crack on and take some snaps anyway. For the next half an hour, then, we raced around the building trying to take a photo of each room. The entire time it felt as though a farmer might turn up, or some kind of Belgian security guard, but, fortunately, neither did. In the end, we were able to leave without further incident.
It was only when we were making our way back outside that we realised how loud the alarm really was. It was clearly attracting quite a bit of attention from the people who were making good use of the surrounding parkland too. At this point, then, we decided to casually join the general public and take a wander around the park. Our blending in seemed to work rather well, other than the fact our French and Flemish skills don’t go much further than ‘Hallo’, ‘Ik ben op zoek naar, John’ and ‘Bonjour’. Still, it we enough to get us back to the cars. After that, our next destination was Bruges, with plenty of time left in the day to drink lots of beer!
Explored with Ford Mayhem, MKD, Rizla Rider, The Hurricane and Husky.