|Oultremont Castle Travel Guide|
The castle-farm of Oultremont in Warnant has been the ancestral residence of the Counts of Oultremont since its construction in the 16th century. The present edifice, however, dates mostly from the 17th and 18th century and was built in typical Mosan style, blending red bricks and grey stones.
The House of Oultremont has its roots in the same village since the 11th century, which makes it one of the oldest families in Belgium. It is a very rare case in the eventful and troubled history of Belgium that a family should remain in possession of the place of which it bears the name uninterruptedly since the Middle Ages.
More exceptional still, is that this family should have a Prince-Bishop of Liège among its members, a function usually reserved to the great German aristocratic families, like the Houses of La Marck (who were elected Prince-Bishops of Liège three times), Berg (three times), or Bavaria (six times).
The Oultremont family is one of numerous cadet branches of the lords of Warnant. The first mention of the name was in 1140, with Sébastien de Warnant.
In the middle of the 13th century, Otton de Warnant marries the only daughter of the castellan of Moha, and becomes lord of Warnant and Moha. The old castle of Warnant would be destroyed in 1276 during the famous War of the Cow.
The descendents of Otton would create several branches, including the Warnant de Saint-Jean, the Warnant du Chestial, the Warnant de Fumal, the Warnant de La Neuville, and the Warnant de Ladrier.
When Jean Faniket de Warnant, lord of Warnant, dies in 1356, the seigneury is inherited by his brother Adolphe de Warnant. Upon Adolphe's death in 1370, his widow Catherine Maillet transfers the lordship of Warnant to her new husband, Arnould de Warnant de Ladrier, baillif of Moha and municipal magistrate of Huy. In 1499, the lordship eventually passes to Guillaume de Sart through his marriage to Catherine de Warnant. The old castle of Warnant was already in ruins at least since 1406, but was not completely destroyed until 1532.
In the mid-15th century, Jean-Hustin de Warnant, of the Ladrier branch, takes the name of Jean-Hustin d'Oultremont, after the name of a hamlet of Warnant. This is the line that would built the castle of Oultremont.
The Oultremont rose quickly thanks to a series of advantageous marriages, notably to the old House of Warfusée (of which the senior Oultremont branch would inherit the name later on), and the Dongelberg (a bastard branch of the Dukes of Brabant).
The House of Oultremont would become lords of numerous villages, such as Lamine, Chantraine Chevetogne, and Han-sur-Lesse. Barons since the early 17th century, the children of François-Paul-Emile d'Oultremont (1679-1737) would be granted the title of Count of the Holy Roman Empire by Emperor Charles VI in 1731, thanks to the illustrious name of their mother, Marie-Isabelle of Bavaria, Countess of Warfusée.
The last of the couple's 6 surviving children, Charles-Nicolas d'Oultremont (1716-1771), would become Prince-Bishop of Liège in 1763. Although Charles-Nicolas resided in the more luxurious castle of Warfusée, he was interred in the chapel of the castle of Oultremont.
The castle is only accessible to groups (max. 25 people) upon special request a few weeks in advance to the Maison du Tourisme Hesbaye et Meuse. The cost is 40 € for the group. The castle may also be open on exceptional occasions, such as Heritage Days (journées du patrimoine).
How to get there
The castle is situated at the outskirt of the village of Warnant-Dreye, just a few hundreds meters north of the E42 motorway, about halfway between Namur and Liege, between exit 6 and 7 for Huy. The village and castle are visible from the motorway.
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