Hardelot Castle is a real curiosity on the Côte d'Opale and is a strong symbol of the fraternal bond which exists between England and France.
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  2. 1 Rue de la Source, 62360 Condette, France
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Hardelot Castle, locally known as Château d'Hardelot, lies in a field next to the village of Condette, in the Pas-de-Calais department in France.

The first castle at this site was built in the 12th century by the Counts of Boulogne. The curtain walls date back to that time. The present castle was built by Philip I, Count of Boulogne and son of Philip II of France, in 1222. He also built Boulogne-sur-Mer Castle to a rather similiar plan; a more or less circular castle with projecting circular towers but no keep.

The castle was taken and retaken several times by the French, the English and the Burgundians. In the 17th century Cardinal Richelieu had Hardelot Castle dismantled and the castle became a farm.

The French Revolution didn't bother the village very much; they were more concerned about the advance of the dunes which were threatening them. In 1791 the castle was sold as national property to the Lord of Châteaubourg. In 1820 the castle was sold again. To battle the advancing dunes and the taking of land by the sea, trees were planted on the estate.

In 1848 Hardelot Castle was bought by the Englishman Sir John Hare. He rebuilt one of the best remaining towers into a Tudor-style mansion. Large receptions were given here and the writer Charles Dickens, a friend of Hare, often visited the castle.

In 1897 Hardelot Castle and its dependencies were again bought by an Englishman; John Whitley. He tried to turn the area into a sports and leisure region. In 1934 the castle was sold to the priest of Condette; Father Bouley, after which it was used to house nuns. Since 1987 the castle is owned by the village.

Between 2007 and 2009 Hardelot Castle was extensively renovated. The outcome of this renovation is not my taste; too neat and too white. In my opinion it robs the castle of its visible history. The castle grounds are freely accessible during opening hours. There is a small museum, dedicated to the aviator Louis Blériot, in the main building which can be visited for a small fee.

Information sources: © castles.nl