History old

The current inhabitants, Count Renaud and Countess Valérie de Kerchove de Denterghem, do their utmost to preserve the park and buildings. Since 1995, the park has been protected as a monument.

In 1843 Charles, descendant of an old family of large landowners and later second Earl, de Kerchove de Denterghem (1819-1882) married Eugénie de Limon de Steenbrugghe (1824-1899), the eldest daughter of Thérèse de Limon. Thérèse died on 14 May 1872, after which Charles and Eugénie came into possession of extensive farmlands and the dilapidated country residence in Beervelde.

Count Charles and Countess Eugénie had a new and larger castle built next to the dilapidated castle, based on a design by Théophile Bureau (1827-1884). The Brussels landscape architect of German origin Louis Fuchs (1818-1904) was commissioned to transform the fields and woods around the castle into a park. This was not an easy task.

The irregular piece of land that was given to him was squeezed between the village of Beervelde, the road to the neighbouring village of Lochristi, the new paved road to Zaffelare (current Beerveldsebaan) and the railway Ghent-Antwerp. The urgency with which the whole project was set in motion suggests that one had already started planning before the death of Thérèse de Limon. In 1870 the duo Fuchs Bureau worked together on the legendary Ghent winter garden of Count de Kerchove de Denterghem.

It can' t be excluded that the eldest son Oswald (later third Count) de Kerchove de Denterghem (1844-1906) had an important influence in the design of the park. Oswald managed to combine a political career, in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, with extensive botanical activities. All the Kerchoves were and still are plant lovers. Oswald was more. Despite his law studies, he was a true botanist. He wrote articles on numerous subjects, but remains mainly known for his impressive books on palms and orchids.

He admired the parks of Prince Hermann Pückler-Muskau (1785-1871) and was a supporter of his mixed style: symmetrical near the house, irregular in the rest of the domain. A style that met the desire to create flower beds in a landscape park.

Since 1875, members of the family de Kerchove de Denterghem have held, almost continuously, the presidency of the Royal Society for Agriculture and Botany, the founder of the five-yearly Ghent Flower Show. The azalea collection of Charles and Eugénie, later also the collection of Oswald, was famous. The names of late 19th-century varieties of the Ghent pride, the Azalea Indica (now Rhododendron simsii), remind us of the prestige that the family de Kerchove de Denterghem enjoyed among Ghent floriculture growers. Several cultivators won prizes with varieties such as Mademoiselle Louise de Kerchove, Président Comte Oswald de Kerchove, ... Also cultivars of other plants were named after members of the family de Kerchove.

Count Oswald died in 1906. After the death of his widow in 1918, the castle of Beervelde became the property of their only son André (1885-1945), the youngest of the four children.

In Beervelde the castle had survived the Second World War, although damaged. Like many other castles, it would not survive modern times. It had an enormous volume of almost 10,000 m³. Moreover, the picturesque style in which it was built was very expensive to maintain due to its architectural detailing. After the war the castle was demolished and in 1950 a distinguished, more practical country house was built on the foundations. Still under Charles, fifth Count, de Kerchove de Denterghem, the basements of the manor house, in fact remains of the castle of 1873, were decorated by Roger Raveel in 1966-67. Together with some friends, he created an intriguing work of art, in which the garden participates in a remarkable way.

Since the death of Count Charles, his second son, Count Renaud de Kerchove de Denterghem, takes care of the park. It proved impossible to maintain the park without opening it up in an economically responsible manner. Count Renaud found his inspiration in the neighbourhood of Paris, where the Fustier family has been organising the 'Journées des Plantes' on the Courson domain since 1982.

By Erlend Hamerlijnck