The Ardennes holds many secrets. It can be an uninviting place in a very primordial sense. The 4,300 square miles of ancient forest covers most of the south of Belgium and Luxembourg, stretching westwards from France, right across to Germany. The thick, dense forest, set on rolling hills, exudes an aura of mystery and impenetrability.
Miranda Castle lies deep in the Ardennes, and its own is history of intrigue is fitting of its location. Although built in 1866, it looks much older due to its gothic style and weathered stone walls. It sits atop a pronounced hill, and is nestled amongst the engulfing forest. It overlooks its sister castle, the Castle of Vêves, which sits on a rock outcrop on the other side of the valley.
The Castle of Vêves is much older than Miranda Castle, dating back to 1410. The castle was owned by the Liedekerke-De Beaufort family, a bourgeois family who were deeply involved in Belgian politics during the 18th century. During the French revolution, because of fears that the turmoil in France would spread to Belgium, the family vacated the Castle of Vêves and retreated to a discreet farm nearby. They resided there until the early nineteenth century, upon which point they commissioned the English architect Edward Milner to build Miranda Castle.
The Liedekerke-De Beaufort moved in to Miranda Castle upon its completion, and remained resident there until the beginning of the Second World War. With outbreak of fighting in the Ardennes, the family once again fled. It was during this period that Miranda Castle came to be occupied by the Nazis, with part of the Battle of the Bulge taking place upon the castle grounds.
The story continues: in 1950 the National Railway Company of Belgium acquired Castle Miranda. From then up until the late 1970’s the castle served as an orphanage and holiday camp for sickly children. Ran regimentally, the children here were forced to wear uniforms. Until the orphanage mysteriously closed, Miranda Castle was known as Château de Noisy.
Since 1991 Miranda Castle has stood empty and abandoned. The only visitors now are urban explorers. The family refuse to sell the castle, despite keen interest from investors. Instead they wish to demolish it, and are currently seeking permission to do so. Castle Miranda’s gothic aura of permanence masks its true vulnerability.