Visiting the Château de Bailleul, Condé-sur-l'Escaut, France: changing ownerships and sovereignties

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Flag of France | Source
Château de Bailleul, Condé-sur-l'Escaut
Château de Bailleul, Condé-sur-l'Escaut | Source
Château in the town of Condé-sur-l'Escaut
Château in the town of Condé-sur-l'Escaut | Source

Switch allegiance? confiscation?

The Château de Bailleul (1) at Condé-sur-l'Escaut, in northern France, dates from 1411; it was refurbished in the 18th century. Medieval records seem to indicate that a previous structure existed at this location.

Executed in stone, the 600-year old building looks every inch a Medieval stronghold. However, it would appear that some of its most prominent features — its large, solid-looking turrets, each with a conical roof — were not part of the original building but were added later. As might be suspected, the mansard roofing is also a later addition. Some of the alterations to the Château de Bailleul are known to have been carried out in anticipation of a visit in 1691 from French King Louis XIV (whose reputation as a successful warrior is justified because of the significant extension of France's borders during his long reign).

Interestingly, although now Condé-sur-l'Escaut is in the Valenciennes arrondissement in the Nord department of France, the town, with its Château de Bailleul has passed through several changes of sovereignty. The Medieval County of Flanders, the Spanish and subsequently the Austrian Empires held the town at various stages of the Château's history, before it definitively became part of France under Louis XIV.

The Château de Bailleul belonged successively to various, prominent, owners: the Condé-Bailleul-Moriamez, La Hamaide, Oettingen, Roggendorf, Lalaing and Croÿ-Solre families (2).

Then came the French Revolution and the Republicans confiscated the Château de Bailleul (as they did with a lot of other property).

One practical effect of this action taken at the French Revolution has been that the local municipality has had to assume the cost of the building's upkeep. (Canadians familiar with the City of Toronto's checkered history of dealings with the City's sole Castle: Casa Loma, will be only too aware that after the City imposed punitive taxation making its owner unable to afford to retain the building, the City itself eventually had to assume some of the cost of its upkeep, until eventually coming to the conclusion that it would have to divide it into apartments and sell them off!).

It seems that the history of the Château de Bailleul during the times of kings illustrates that what the townsfolk and Château owners were expected to do was to switch allegiance to whoever seized the local area (3). But after the Revolution, confiscation — at whatever, future, practical inconvenience — was the order of the day.

The Château de Bailleul is at certain times open to the public; for more information, propective visitors are advised to contact the local tourist office at: Le Beffroi, 26 Place Pierre Delcourt
59163 Condé sur l'Escaut
Tel : 03 27 28 89 10

January 23, 2015

Notes:

(1) Disambiguation; NB: the Nord department of France also contains a town called Bailleul, but the Château de Bailleul is in Condé-sur-l'Escaut, which is nowhere near the town of Bailleul (about which a hubpage also exists).

(2) See also: http://www.mairie-conde-s-escaut.fr/Tourisme/Les-monuments-de-Conde/Le-chateau-de-Bailleul (in French).

(3) Even today, part of the boundary of the municipality of Condé-sur-l'Escaut runs along part of the Belgian province of Hainaut.

Also worth seeing

In Condé-sur-l'Escaut itself, the Vautourneaux Gate dates from the 17th century; the pillared Town Hall dates from 1774; the Château de l'Hermitage dates from 1786/89; a belfry dates from 1789; the Bon-Secours Forest extends to the Belgian border.

Valenciennes (distance: 15 kilometres); among its noted buildings are Hôtel de ville with a highly impressive frontage, the Saint-Cordon Basilica and the Spanish House (French: Maison espagnole ).

Saint-Amand-les-Eaux (distance: 15 kilometres); this border town has some fine ecclesiastical architecture

...

How to get there: United Airlines flies from New York Newark to Paris (Aéroport Paris-Charles de Gaulle ), from where car rental is available (distance from Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport to Condé-sur-l'Escaut : 204 kilometres). Brussels Airlines flies from New York to Brussels Airport (Brussel Nationaal / Bruxelles-National ), from where car rental is available. Brussels is the nearest large airport to Condé-sur-l'Escaut (distance: 118 kilometres). You are advised to check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. Please refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada

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