Écaussinnes-Lalaing Castle, locally known as Château-fort d’Écaussinnes-Lalaing, lies in the center of the village of the same name, in the province of Hainaut in the Wallonia region in Belgium.
The castle was built in the 12th century by Baldwin V, Count of Hainaut. It was built on a rock next to the Senette stream to protect the County of Hainaut against its neighbours; the County of Flanders and the Duchy of Brabant.
In 1357 the Lady of Écaussinnes, Jeanne de Rœlx, married with Simon de Lalaing, Grand Bailiff of Hainaut. In 1428 Marie Lalaing, his great granddaughter, married Jean de Croÿ.
Jean de Croÿ was an important and wealthy man, Count of Chimay, Grand Bailiff of Hainaut and an important advisor to Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy. He had the castle rebuilt and tranformed from a stark but obsolete fortification to a comfortable and prestigous residence. When he died in 1516 possession of the castle went to his niece, Marguerite de Croÿ. When she married Charles de Lalaing in 1528 the castle again came into the hands of the Lalaing family.
The Lalaing’s kept Écaussinnes-Lalaing Castle until 1624 when Marguerite de Lalaing, Lady of Écaussinnes, and her husband Count Florent de Berlaymont, sold the castle. It was acquired by Philippe van der Burch. During the 18th century the castle was redecorated in Roccoco style and the present gatetower was built.
The Van der Burch’s inhabited the castle until 1854. It was then sold to the Duke of Arenberg. The Duke however was only interested in the revenue of the domain and the castle fell into dilapidation.
During World War I Écaussinnes-Lalaing Castle was first occupied by German soldiers and later by Canadian soldiers. In 1922 the much dilapidated castle was bought by the canon Edmond Puissant. He restored the castle and used it to house his collections. He opened the castle to the public in 1926. In 1928 the castle was visited by Count Adrien van der Burch. He fell in love with the castle of his ancestors and bought it back. He gave the castle its present appearance and its present collection.
At present Écaussinnes-Lalaing Castle is property of the Van der Burch Foundation. It can be visited with a guide during the summer months. The presentation of the museum is a bit old fashioned but that adds to the charm of such an old building, in my opinion.