The earliest known reference to the castle dates back to 1299. Known then as the 'Castro de Bece', it served as reinforcements on the Gete river, a part of the eastern line of defence of the duchy of Brabant. Castro de Bece then consisted of a keep—or residential tower—and outer buildings.
In 1312 the name Elsmere (or Elsmeren) made its debut; the like-named family held possession of the caste. In Dutch, Elsmeren means ‘a space enclosed by alder (shrubs)’, while ‘heerlijckyt’ refers to the authority exercised by people within its domain and according to their own rights. Elsmeren was governed as part of a feudal system, subordinate to the Duke of Brabant. The male Elsmeren family members had the right to hunt and fish, and to milling. The keep was later replaced by a Gothic castle, built in white natural stone.
In 1667 the former castle was broken down and replaced with the current construction. The current farming divisions date from the beginning of the 19th century.
In 1699, the castle came into the possession of the de Rijckman de Betz family. They performed thorough restoration works in the 1920s and 1990s.
In 2004 the de Rijckman de Betz passed their love of the domain to new owners. Ever since, it has fulfilled its original goal as a ‘heerlijckyt’ with a modern interpretation.
The domain is no longer restricted to agricultural pursuits, but serves more as a centre for learning and meetings: a place where guests can work, have meetings and encounters in a pleasant atmosphere, enriching themselves and others with new experiences and insights.
More can be learned about the history and the socio-economic meaning of this site in ‘Het kasteel van Geetbets – De oude heerlijkheid Elsmeren – Geschiedenis – Gebouwen – Bewoners’ a publication in Dutch by the Geetbets Geschiedkundige Kring in 2012.
This book is available for purchase at De Heerlijckyt.
If you’re interested in learning more about the history of De Heerlijckyt, contact:
Geschiedkundige Kring Limes Gatia Geetbets
p/a Guy Leus
Kwadestraat 27 - 3450 Geetbets