Ham Castle

Ham Castle, locally known as Château de Ham, lies in the town of the same name, in the Somme department in France.

Exactly when Ham Castle was first build is unknown, but probably not long before it was first mentioned in 1052 as a property of the Counts of Vermandois.

During the first part of the 13th century the castle was reconstructed by Odon IV, Baron of Ham, in the style of French military architecture at that time, called "Philippian" after Philippe Auguste (Philip II of France). After the Barons of Ham had died out, without leaving a male heir, it was bought by Enguerrand VII, Lord of Coucy, around 1380.

In 1400, Enguerrand's daughter sold it to Louis I, Duke of Orléans, who started to reconstruct it. In 1418 his works were finished by John II of Luxembourg, Count of Ligny, who had acquired the seigneury following Louis' assassination. John's heir Louis of Luxembourg, Count of Saint-Pol, constructed a massive keep in 1441. The keep was 33 m high, 33 m in diameter and had walls of up to 11 m thick. By the end of the 15th century Ham Castle had passed to the House of Bourbon-Vendôme by marriage.

Ham Castle was besieged on several occassions, in particular in 1557 by Philip II of Spain. During the reign of Henry IV of France (1589-1610) it became property of the French Crown. At the end of the 17th century it was transformed to a fortress by Vauban, the famous military engineer.

Later during the 18th century it was turned into a state prison, mainly for high-ranking individuals. Amongst them was Charles-Louis Napoléon Bonaparte, the future Napoleon III of France. In 1870, during the Franco-Prussian War, the Second Army of the North encircled the town of Ham and forced the occupying Prussians to sign a surrender.

Ham Castle was dynamited almost to oblivion by the German during World War I, in March 1917, as a result of the scorched earth tactics employed by the German General Ludendorff, just like Coucy Castle.

The castle had a rectangular ground plan with round towers at its corners and square towers in the midst of the curtain walls. The mighty keep would have stood on the north-west corner. Originally it had a wet moat circling it but this was drained when the Canal de la Somme was constructed next to the castle in 1770.

At present the site of Ham Castle is used as a public park and is thus freely accessible.


Gallery

Ham Castle

Ham Castle, locally known as Château de Ham, lies in the town of the same name, in the Somme department in France.

Exactly when Ham Castle was first build is unknown, but probably not long before it was first mentioned in 1052 as a property of the Counts of Vermandois.

During the first part of the 13th century the castle was reconstructed by Odon IV, Baron of Ham, in the style of French military architecture at that time, called "Philippian" after Philippe Auguste (Philip II of France). After the Barons of Ham had died out, without leaving a male heir, it was bought by Enguerrand VII, Lord of Coucy, around 1380.

In 1400, Enguerrand's daughter sold it to Louis I, Duke of Orléans, who started to reconstruct it. In 1418 his works were finished by John II of Luxembourg, Count of Ligny, who had acquired the seigneury following Louis' assassination. John's heir Louis of Luxembourg, Count of Saint-Pol, constructed a massive keep in 1441. The keep was 33 m high, 33 m in diameter and had walls of up to 11 m thick. By the end of the 15th century Ham Castle had passed to the House of Bourbon-Vendôme by marriage.

Ham Castle was besieged on several occassions, in particular in 1557 by Philip II of Spain. During the reign of Henry IV of France (1589-1610) it became property of the French Crown. At the end of the 17th century it was transformed to a fortress by Vauban, the famous military engineer.

Later during the 18th century it was turned into a state prison, mainly for high-ranking individuals. Amongst them was Charles-Louis Napoléon Bonaparte, the future Napoleon III of France. In 1870, during the Franco-Prussian War, the Second Army of the North encircled the town of Ham and forced the occupying Prussians to sign a surrender.

Ham Castle was dynamited almost to oblivion by the German during World War I, in March 1917, as a result of the scorched earth tactics employed by the German General Ludendorff, just like Coucy Castle.

The castle had a rectangular ground plan with round towers at its corners and square towers in the midst of the curtain walls. The mighty keep would have stood on the north-west corner. Originally it had a wet moat circling it but this was drained when the Canal de la Somme was constructed next to the castle in 1770.

At present the site of Ham Castle is used as a public park and is thus freely accessible.


Gallery