Huis te Merwede Castle
Huis te Merwede Castle, locally known as Huis te Merwede, lies in the north-eastern part of the city of Dordrecht, in the province of South Holland in the Netherlands.
The ruin of Huis te Merwede Castle lies in an abandoned field next to an industrial area and a prison, between a swampy area and the river Merwede. The name means House at the Merwede river.
The first stone building that stood at this site was built before 1307 and consisted of a tower house at the north-eastern corner and 3 round towers which were connected by 2 residential buildings and 2 curtain walls. It's not known who was the founder of this first castle.
In the first half of the 14th century a bigger castle was built on the same site for which the first one was almost completely demolished. At the north-western corner a heavy, brick keep was built of which the outer walls were decorated with glazed bricks in a wickerwork motif. It's the remains of this keep that we see today. The founder of this second castle probably was Lord Daniel van der Merwede who resided in the castle from 1307.
In 1410 Margaretha van der Merwede was the sole heiress after the death of her father. She married Willem van Brederode who gained the fief with the consent of Count Willem VI of Holland.
In 1418 the city of Dordrecht had been besieged by John IV, Duke of Brabant who was married with Jacqueline, Countess of Hainaut. The duke and his wife had occupied the castle during this siege. So after the siege the inhabitants of the city of Dordrecht destroyed the castle out of revenge.
Afterwards the local people used the remains of the castle as a quarry for stone and building materials. This was caused because in those times people had to pay a so called stone-fine when they had made an offense such as disturbing the public peace. These stone-fines were given to gather enough building materials for the rebuilding of the Great Church in Dordrecht.
Then in 1421 the flood of Saint-Elizabeth came. After this flood the castle had become a ruin situated on an isolated islet with its foundations washed by the river Merwede. The castle was never rebuild after that.
In 1449 the magistrate of Dordrecht had forbidden the further use of the ruin as a source of building materials but this didn't stop the locals.
When the family Van der Merwede had died out the fief was sold to Lodewijk van Praadt whose family kept possession until 1589. In 1604 the city of Dordrecht bought the fief.
In 1844 the castle was still situated on an islet. But in the beginning of this century the land around the castle ruin was reclaimed. It now stands approximately 10 meters from the waterside of the Merwede river.
In 1940, 1955 and 1984 archeological excavations took place. They discovered the foundations of both castles, a flute, a tin jug, a cauldron and all sorts of pottery. The recovered foundations were covered with soil again to protect it. In 1971 and 1988 consolidation works took place. All window openings were walled up to prevent vandalism.
It's a little hard to find but worth the visit. Freely accessible. The lines you see in the grass, are the outlines of the castle's foundations discovered during archeological excavations.