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Schagen’s blemished townscape to be fixed with rebuilt castle

Towers reconnected again after nearly two centuries

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

SCHAGEN, the Netherlands - The partial castle ruins near the core of this old North Holland (West Frisian) town long have been a blemish on Schagen’s historic cityscape. Ever since 1978 when the suggestion first was made to rebuild the near empty space between the two remaining corner towers, local acti-vists have been striving to bring the idea to fruition. Recently work commenced on the site and Dutch couples wishing their wedding ceremony to be held in a “historic” setting, soon will be able to make arrangements in the new Schagen castle.

The original castle was built during the fifteenth century, after Count Willem Van Beieren Sr. in 1427 app-ointed his son Willem lord over the area, once part of the Egmond monastery. The elder Willem in 1390 had re-placed a wooden defense structure with a brick stronghold. By the end of the fifteenth century, the building had been upgraded to a full-fledged, square castle protected by a moat and a drawbridge. The Schagen site already was populated five centuries earlier when the mon-astery’s local trustee (meier) held his court there.

By the 19th century, the castle had gone through several owners brought on by inheritances. It did not help the structure’s upkeep, in fact parts of the castle - a more economical alternative perhaps - were torn down. The run-down castle finally was sold by its Belgian owner in 1826. Two years later, the local municipality purchased it. The estate - and the title of Count - became the property of an English nobleman who upon his death left it to the English crown.

The Foundation “Friends of the old castle” with the help of area architect aptly named Willem Schagen de-veloped plans for the vacant site which include a full-scale castle (30 x 9 metres) with courtyards and a bridg-ed moat, office space for the local tourism board, facilities for civil wedding ceremonies, exhibits and meetings, and a fifteen room, four-star hotel on the second story (banquets must be held elsewhere). The various facilities will be contracted out by a newly formed non-profit foundation which will assume ownership from the municipality.

The building’s foundation will rest on only ten piles; since limited archeological work has been done on the site the piles will allow future digging underneath the castle. The budget for this ambitious undertaking has been pegged at seven million guilders, 2.6 million of which is shouldered by the province and 1.5 million by the municipality. Completion date has been targetted for the end of 2002.