Castle Ophemert, also known as the High House and located in the town of the same name in Gelderland, is quite modest for a castle. Built in 1265 by order of Rudolf de Cock, it was the longest inhabited by the Van Haeften family since 1552; until 1844. Portraits of the gentlemen can be found in the echoing corridors. Until 2008, the Scottish Mackay family slept in the ten-bedroom building. And so tonight “madam” Stamkot.
Hostess Alexandra van Dedem, together with her husband Arthur baron van Dedem, has leased it since 2009 and operates it as a B&B with love and passion. No slick and fully equipped rooms, for example the toilet is shared in some cases, but the authentic atmosphere of a stately castle. That is also what the hostess wants: to let the castle speak for itself as much as possible.
The couple is familiar with large country houses; Man Arthur’s noble family owns several, and wanted “something to live and work in.” “This is not a castle where people fought. You can feel that ”, says Alexandra, who lives with her family in the coach house opposite. “There is a nice energy.”
Such buildings within the family have always been treated with a certain pride. “It used to be an honor to own a castle, it indicated that you had a rich background. Now it also involves care and burden: maintenance is not cheap. ”
The large weathered mirrors in the hallway where you see yourself as you step down the stone steps – you don’t walk here, you step here – are a good example of this. Just like the large shutters that have to be closed by hand for the equally large windows with wooden frames. The windows offer a view of the small castle moat, but above all of the wide garden with its different trees and therefore colors, a feast for the eyes upon waking – here you do not wake up, here you wake up.
The rooms are themed and the fuchsia room is her favorite: small, but with friendly fuchsia wallpaper and as much as possible in an original atmosphere. I sleep in the Chinese room, where only the prints on the wall and the wooden pharmacy cupboard refer to the theme. The two large chaise longues invite you to sit down – you don’t sit here, you sit here.
Musing about how that must have been in the past: such a family at long wooden tables with beer mugs, large pieces of meat, music and party. No, there is no shortage of imagination. For this princess a bottle of good wine and a vegetarian lasagna, recommended by the hostess, it doesn’t get any closer to the imagination, but just as fine.
The next morning I am awakened by a singing bird and the rising sun colors the red and different shades of green of the trees. Breakfast is served in the dining room with its sunken windows, with antlers of 1960s African game hanging on the walls. Castle dogs Puck and Aavfje enthusiastically run through the adjacent Alice in Wonderland-like garden with purple blossom. The white pigeons fly back and forth and in the distance an army of frogs croaks. “Search the water and kiss a frog,” said a colleague when I joked that I was looking for the prince on the white horse at a castle. Enough potential princes in the water. This princess concludes that she really likes that castle life. Even without a prince.
Day of the castle
The Netherlands has 1000 surviving castles and country estates. One-third of these are privately owned, with two-thirds funded by private individuals, the remainder supplemented by government.
June 1 is Castle Day, which is being held online for the first time. The 100 participating castles and country estates tell their stories on dagvanhetkasteel.nl with podcasts and film recordings
That special day is necessary because castles are also burdened by the corona crisis. Conservation is dependent on income from the recreation sector.