Above all, the Gardens of Annevoie reflect the history of the de Montpellier family, whose roots go back to the middle of the fifteenth century.
Only at the beginning of the seventeenth century did Jean de Montpellier inherit the Annevoie estate, formerly owned by the de Halloy family.
In those days, the de Montpellier’s were famous forge-masters. Jean de Montpellier’s son, Charles-Alexis, who himself was Mayor of the Court of Iron-merchants, made the means to lay out his Gardens and to extend the castle from this thriving industry (the work started in about 1758).
To this end, he found inspiration in his many travels through Europe. Thus the gardens’ concept is based on three philosophies:
The French style or “art corrects nature”:
Architecture avoiding all curves and windings in order to create long and majestic perspectives.
The Gardens look like a painting.
E.g.: the Drive of Flowers, the Grand Drive, the French Cascade...(see virtual visit)
The Italian style or “art adapts to nature”:
Architecture that brings out variety, contrast and surprise effects.
Contrary to the French style, one preserves the curves, differences in level,… and they are integrated in the landscape.
Water is one of the main aesthetical axes. It is considered to be the soul of the gardens.
E.g.: the hornbeam lane, the Artichoke Pond, the castle’s curve.
The English style or “art imitates nature”:
Architecture trying to reproduce the natural effects artificially, in line with Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s and the English Romanticism’s “back to nature”.
E.g.: the English Cascade and Neptune’s Cave which were “created” from beginning to end.
In the 1930s, the Gardens were finally opened for the public. Consequently, the estate was declared Major Heritage of Wallonia.
Thus ten generations of the de Montpellier family of Annevoie have contributed to the creation and the improvement of the Gardens before they came into the hands of Stephan Jourdain and his family, in spring 2000.
Since then, the Gardens have undergone a revival with the creation of a pond near the entrance, a playground, a raspberry garden, a rosary, a kitchen garden,
a souvenir shop and lots of other projects to be discovered in the years to come, in an estate whose surface has grown, since the take-over in 2000, from 20 to 55 hectares.