The current owners, Earl Renaud and Countess Valérie de Kerchove de Denterghem, make every effort to conserve the park and it's buildings. They expand existing collections and, completely loyal to the family spirit, invest in new collections. Since 1995, the park is a protected monument. Hopefully this will facilitate the execution of some urgent repairs and maintenance works.
de Kerchove de Denterghem
In 1843, Charles, descendant from a long line of landowners and later the second Earl, de Kerchove de Denterghem (1819-1882), married to Eugenie de Limon the Steenbrugghe (1824-1899), the eldest daughter of Thérèse de Limon. Thérèse died on May 14, 1872, after which Charles and Eugenie inherited vast estates and the, now fallen in decay, country house in Beervelde.
Earl Charles and Countess Eugenie constructed next to the dilapidated castle, a new and larger one, by a design off Théophile Office (1827-1884). The Brussels landscape architect of German origin Louis Fuchs (1818-1904) was assigned to transform the fields and woods surrounding the castle into a park. This was no easy task.
The irregular piece of land that was available for this purpose, was squeezed between the village of Beervelde , the road to the neighboring town of Lochristi, the new paved road to Zaffelare (current Beerveldsebaan) and the railroad line Ghent-Antwerp. The urgency by which the project was put in motion, suggests that even before the death of Thérèse de Limon, they had already started with the plans . In 1870, the duo Fuchs and Office, had already worked together on the legendary Ghent conservatory of Count de Kerchove de Denterghem.
It is possible that the eldest son Oswald (later third Earl) de Kerchove de Denterghem (1844-1906) had a major say in the design of the park. Oswald knew how to combine a political career, in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, with extensive botanical activities. All the de Kerchoves were and still are plant lovers. Oswald was more. Despite his law studies, he was a real botanist. He has written articles on numerous topics, but remains best known for his monumental 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 incorporate flower beds in a landscaped park.
Members of the family de Kerchove de Denterghem have occupied since 1875, almost continuously, the chair of the Royal Society for Agriculture and Botany, organizer of the five-yearly Ghent Flower show. The azalea collection of Charles and Eugenie, later also that of Oswald where famous. The names of late 19th-century varieties of the Ghent pride, the Azalea Indica ( now Rhododendron simsii ), remind us of the respect that the family de Kerchove de Denterghem enjoyed amongst the Ghent ornamental growers. Many growers took prizes with different varieties like Mademoiselle Louise de Kerchove, Président Comte Oswald de Kerchove, ... Even cultivars of other plants were named after members of the de Kerchove family.
Count Oswald died in 1906. After the passing of his widow in 1918, the Castle of Beervelde became property of their only son, Andre (1885-1945), the youngest of four children.
The Beervelde castle had survived World War II, though damaged. But like many other castles, it would not survive the modern times. It had a huge volume of nearly 10,000 m3. Moreover, the picturesque style in which it was built with his architectural detailing, made it very expensive to maintain. After the war the castle was demolished in 1950 and the foundations where used for a distinguised, more practical house. Still under Charles, fifth Earl, de Kerchove de Denterghem the basement of the mansion, in fact, remains of the castle of 1873, was decorated by Roger Raveel in 1966-67. Together with some friends, he brought an intriguing work of art in which the garden participates in a surprising way.
Since the death of Count Charles, the second son, Count Renaud de Kerchove de Denterghem has devoted his life with the task of managing the park. It was not possible to maintain it all without opening up the park in an economically viable way. Count Renaud found his inspiration for this near Paris, where the family Fustier organized since 1982 the 'Journées des Plantes " on the domein of Courson.
By Erlend Hamerlijnck.