Royal Lodge becomes unique meeting place

After decades of dilapidation and vandalism, work on the Royal Lodge on the former hippodrome of Groenendaal started this summer. The former church of the priory of Groenendaal also got a make-over.

© Stefanie Holvoet

© Stefanie Holvoet

The Royal Lodge dates from 1924 and is a monument to the royal family’s horse riding past on the site. Among others, Leopold II used to be a frequent visitor.
The restoration started mid-August and should be finished by spring 2016. The Royal Lodge will gain a multifunctional purpose: a unique spot to spend the night surrounded by nature, a conference room or a place for classes on land management. Visitors can only reach the building on foot (or by bike), a ten-minute walk from the parking lot of the Groenendaal castle. The concession of the restored Royal Lodge is in hands of the proprietors of the B&B Hippo-Droom in Groenendaal.

Priory church

© Stefaan Bockstal

© Stefaan Bockstal

The former church of the priory of Groenendaal also got a make-over this summer. This was urgently needed: some of the walls were tilted and had partially collapsed. The walls are now supported and the rubble has been cleared away. The site is ready for preliminary archeological research, which will take place this autumn. Using trial trenches, archeologists will chart how the church used to look and which relics are hidden underground. This research is required to estimate to which degree restoration is possible and how the building can be used in the future.
The old and dilapidated building is the lower half of the former church of the Augustinian priory of Groenendaal. The priory was founded in 1343 by mystic Jan van Ruusbroec. In 1783, the priory was disbanded and the church was partially dismantled. In 1795 French troops dealt the finishing blow to the church. The remaining part of the church was repurposed as a service building and a stable.