Inviting your friends to go ice skating on the castle moat, watching the fox hunts and sleeping in the royal chambers. What seems like a privilege reserved for the aristocracy was the daily life of Henk Roestenburg (71).
Together with his sisters Ria and Gonny, Henk grew up at Castle Castle d’Oultremont. His family wasn’t wealthy, but they had a bit of luck. His great-grandfather Arnoldus was gardener and steward in the service of the family d’Oultremont. In 1872, he is hired by Count Adrien. He moves into the farm at the end of Kasteellaan. Henk points at some enormous conifers behind the castle: “It is quite likely that my great-grandfather planted those in 1875 when the English garden was created.”
After 50 years Hendrikus, Henk’s grandfather, inherits the job from his father. “Grandpa took his job very serious. Everyone was afraid of him. Noone was allowed to enter the castle forest. Only in winter when the castle moat was frozen, het let the children ice skate” Henk explains. In 1913, Henk’s father Nol is born. He starts his own tree nursery on the castle grounds in 1938. Right after World War II Nol gets married. It’s not the best time to start a family, it’s difficult to find housing. Count Pierre, son of Count Adrien, helps out. The family d’Oultremont stays longer at the estate only in the summer. During most of the year the castle is empty. He allows the young family to temporarily move into the castle. “In the end, my family lived there for 33 years”, Henk concludes.
Even though Henk lives with his parents and sisters in a huge castle, they only occupy five small rooms at the backside of the building. He sleeps in a folding bed. “In winter it was so cold that ice flowers grew on the windows and the blankets were frozen.” In spring, during the summer months and for the fox hunt in autumn the noble family stayed at the estate. Henk still remembers vividly. “Two weeks beforehand we were informed by mail. We called helpers to get the entire castle, 38 chambers and 4 bathrooms, clean and ready. For weeks, the entire house smelled like floor polish.”
The yearly fox hunt is a big happening. Henk: “A lot of rich people were invited. They shot hares, rabbits and pheasants. Often they didn’t hit their target, especially after lunch when they have had a glass of wine or two.” When Henk turns 23, he gets married and leaves his parental home. Five years later his parents move out as well and Count Roland d’Oltremont sells the estate.
Only after moving out Henk realizes how special it was to be raised on the estate. “For me it was simply my home. Maybe everything was a bit too big. Like the long driveaway and the building.” In 1976, Henk takes over the nursery from his dad. It is located across the estate and still active today, although with a new owner. Together with his old friend André Janssen Henk still daily oversees the estate. His connection with Landgoed Steenenburg is deep and strong.