Haus Stapel near Havixbeck is one of the largest moated castles in Westphalia. It was first mentioned in a document in 1211 as the seat of the Kerckerinck family. The estate, which is somewhat hidden away, is completely rented out and therefore cannot usually be entered. However, the magnificent house opens its doors a few times a year so that visitors can view the park, inner courtyard and staircase during concerts. Guests can visit the banqueting hall on a guided tour with the castle's owner on "Open Monument Day". Since 2023, it has also been possible to take part in a garden tour from February to September inclusive. Every 1st Saturday of the month at 2:00 p.m., owner Dr. Mechthild Freifrau Raitz von Frentz leads a tour of the park. Advance booking is not necessary. The contribution towards expenses is 5 euros per person.
Incidentally, "Stapel" comes from "stave", Middle High German for "jam". In fact, since the early Middle Ages there have been extensive dams in which stream water was impounded. At that time, these dams served to operate extensive fishing facilities. The deep and wide ditches in the castle park are thus remnants of this.
Haus Stapel is being funded by the German governmentaspart of the"Nationally Valuable Cultural Monument" conservation programme. The focus is on the restoration of the main house. In addition, the house is supported by the German Foundation for Monument Protection. For example, it has already been possible to fund the re-roofing of the three canopy roofs of the gatehouse.
The flanking towers of the outer bailey and all other outer buildings except the gate tower were built in 1607-1608, the gate tower was built in 1719 possibly according to plans by Maximilian von Welsch. The neoclassical main building was built according to the plans of August Reinking. The castle buildings were completed in 1828. The "Haus Stapel" manor has always belonged to landed gentry families. It was never sold in its entire history, but only passed on to other families through female succession.
At the end of the 18th century, the male line of the "von Kerckerinck zu Stapel" family died out. The heiress's daughter Maria Theresia married Ernst Konstantin Freiherr von Droste zu Hülshoff, an uncle of the poet Annette von Droste-Hülshoff, in 1801 at the age of 15. This marriage produced 22 (!) children, but only about half of them reached adulthood and none had descendants. The present castle was built for this large family. When the last of the children died in 1880, the estate was inherited by Klemens Freiherr Droste zu Hülshoff, nephew of Annette and great-grandfather of the present owner. He designated his son Friedrich as heir, who did not marry and adopted his brother Clemens' eldest daughter, Ermengard. Since their marriage in 1956, the owner family has been called Raitz von Frentz. Annette von Droste Hülshoff regularly came to the Stapel house to teach her cousins.
Would you like to learn more about the history? On the website of Haus Stapel, the current owner of the castle, Dr. med. Mechthild Freifrau Raitz von Frentz, presents the history of the house and the "Haus Stapel Concerts" in a video portrait produced for the German Foundation for Monument Protection.
Since 2011, two romantic song recitals have been held in the historic ballroom on each of two weekends a year. With its significant hand-painted wallpaper and the Knake grand piano from 1873, which has been in the room for over 140 years, the hall is a feast for the eyes. Each song recital is documented on the website with three selected video live recordings. Many people still do not know that Annette von Droste-Hülshoff also composed. That is why the recitals are introduced with a song composed by Annette herself. In this way, the presumably most extensive "video library" of Droste's songs has been created.
Every year at the end of August, Prof. Clemens Rave gives a "piano recital by candlelight" on the Knake grand piano. Since 2020, open-air picnic concerts have also been held in the inner courtyard of the castle. A treat for the ears and the palate! The artistic director and protagonist of the Haus-Stapel concerts is the soprano Heike Hallaschka.
The property may only be visited in the context of certain events. The dates for the concert days can be found on the website of the house. Then you have the opportunity to admire the park, inner courtyard and staircase. On the second Sunday in September ("Open Monument Day"), you can also enter the ballroom on a guided tour at 2 pm.
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