The castle of Gemert is a historic country estate surrounded by a beautiful park. Outside the park, there are vast farmlands with various farmsteads that still have shutters in the colors of the German Order.
The castle in Gemert has been declared a national monument.
The construction of the castle
started in the year 1391. It was inhabited by knights of the German Order and
was built by order of Commander Hendrik Reinaart van Husen. It was located next
to the Rips, south of the village chapel. The chapel was located to the east of
the current Church of Saint John from 1437, across the street.
In 1645, Filips van Leefdaal described the castle as a “magnificent old castle with three drawbridges and two beautiful, well-constructed side houses, being the residence of the Commander and the beautiful goods belonging to the Commandry, being Gemert, the richest Commandry under the command of Oldenbisen”.
In 1648, the local Commander seceded from the Order, but after a lingering judicial procedure, the authority of the Grand Master of the German Order over Gemert was still acknowledged.
In 1740, a new main building was constructed in the style of Louis XIV, consisting of three wings surrounding a courtyard.
The castle was since inhabited by a land agent and for a while, the western part housed the cotton mill of the firm Volkert & Comp. (see also: the Gemert textile industry).
In 1881, a fire broke out, causing much damage to the west and the south wings. This happened shortly after the castle had been sold to the Jesuits. They were chased away from France as part of the local secularization politics. They settled their noviciate in the castle in 1900, only to return to France when the First World War broke out. Afterwards, in 1916, the Spiritans moved into the castle, who eventually purchased it from the Jesuits in 1928. They built a temporary chapel in 1936 that still stands today.
On May 11, 1940, there was a short gunfight between German and Dutch soldiers, setting fire to and destroying one of the castle’s wings. New buildings were later constructed to replace the wing. Among other things, the Spiritans had housed their grand seminary in the castle, which was closed down in 1969 due to a lack of students. In 1970, the castle became the headquarters of the Spiritans. However, their numbers were dwindling and the castle threatened to be sold to an investment company. The local population protested the plans for new construction in the immediate surroundings of the castle, under the motto: “No residential construction behind the wall. Keep the castle green and pure.” In 2008, the municipality of Gemert-Bakel made an offer to buy the castle.