Another treasure hidden in the wide landscape of Germany's Muensterland ist Lembeck Castle in the beautiful valley of the river Lippe. Although being part of rural district of Recklinghausen, the castle lies far away from the busy Ruhrgebiet and is one of places to go in the Muensterland. Moreover, Lembeck Castle is one of the oldest baroque castles in western Muensterland.
Apart from the castle, the large garden and park of Lembeck castle present a large variety of exotic trees and are known, far beyond border, for their exquisite and colourful rhododendron plants which are lovely to look at during the garden season.
Lembeck Castle sits on two large moats in the middle of an extensive pond; the pond itself covers an area of 190 x 160 metres. A east-west axis measuring 500 metres cuts through the middle of the entire complex. The axis is marked by an alley that starts at Wulfener Strasse (Landstrasse L608) and reaches the baroque gate and the stone bridge that lead into the outer bailey. The drawbridge no longer exists.
The east facade of the outer bailey measures 110 metres. Looking through the round-arched gate of the outer bailey, the outlines of the also round-arch styled portal of the castle become visible, and it even possible to spot the obelisk which marks the western border of the garden. This baroque line of sight conveys the idea of almost sheer infinity. It seems as if the axis is extending far beyond horizon. Though it is inifinity within one's personal grasp.
The facade of Lembeck Castle is rather unpretentious let us say modest. Still the castle appears as a powerful and massive building. The stonework is made of polygonal stones, there is only little plaster on the walls and the building shows a somehow raw beauty. Very impressiv are the two roofed hood corner towers, which catch the visitors eye immediately. The round-arched risalit is a real baroque piece of art. A ridge turret with bell is placed in the middle of the pointed roof of the building.
The inescapable appeal of Lembeck Castle is not only in the architectural style of the buildings but especially in the walkable extremely long east-west-axis, the interaction between buildings, gardens and the countryside of which the castle is an integral part of.
Another interesting detail are the three corner pavillons of which two flank the outer bailey and the third marking the end of the castle to the west. Here again, these pavillons show an unconventional construction of the roofed hoods, all in a different style, but also in a balbous-spire-sort-of-style. Interesting to know that this special form of roofing is an element we will meet again at Nordkirchen Palace and also at Westerwinkel Castle.
Lembeck Castle can look back on nearly 1000 years of history, which is quite an achievement. The first documented mention is in 1027 AD. The nobles of Lembeck are first mentioned of in the 12th century and 100 years later they are raised to knighthood. With the male line becoming extinct in 1527 the entire estates falls to the Westerholt family when the inheriting daughter Bertha married Berhard von Westerholt.
The impact of the Spanish Dutch war and the Thirty Year's War generated leave behind a lot of damage and consigned people to financial difficulties which also hit the nobility hard. In the middle of the Thirty Year's War the estate goes to the Dutch arm of the Westerholt family (Westerholt-Hackfurt), which from 1670 on began to transform the castle into a baroque style palace as we know it today. As was customary at the time, the existing structure was used instead of building from scratch.
Lembeck castle sits on an east-western axis that is cutting right through the middle of the entire castle complex. Meaning, everything is arranged alongside that very axis. The front gates, the gate tower of the outer bailey, the bridges and the castle, all is lined up on this axis.
In order to access the outer bailey we need to walk over a stonebridge crossing the castle pond. In front of the pond two gates guard the access to the bridge. The first gate is a magnificent example of the baroque style with two pillars on each side of the gate. The respective outer pillar owes a gable bearing a vase scultpure. On each side the pillars are connected by a wall, on the ledge of which a sculpture is place, surrounded by ornaments. This gatekeeper sculpture is seated on a stylized horse, with the left sculpture depicting Mars with martial symbols, the Roman god of war, wheras the right sculpture shows the roman goddess Minerva. The two inner pillars of the gate have lions seated on the gable holding the coat of arms of the lord of the manor.
Only a few metres behind the first gate we hit another gate only consisting of two pillars with a globe seated on the gable. The second gate marks the begin of the pond and the bridge crossing over to the large gate tower of the outer bailey.
As already mentioned, from the first gate it is possible to look right through all gates and up to the obelisk, which marks the end of the garden in the west.
The most prominent part of the outer bailey is the massive gate tower which really dominates the entire scene. Once the gate tower was closed by a drawbridge, which no longer exists. It is only the recess in the masonry that still reminds us of bygone times and that Lembeck Castle once was a fortified castle.
In the open-work gable over the gate there are two coats of arms depicting the date 1697.
Nowadays the outer bailey is a two-winged complex only, because the north wing happed to be destroyed by a huge fire. Within the court of the outer bailey we already find a small garden. Only the right part of the court is open to the public. The east-west axis in the court is lined up with 4 sculptures, two on each side, depicting the four seasons.
Immediately catching the visitor's eye are the two compact and massive angular corner towers flanking the south wing. All corner towers show individually styled roof hoods. These tower elements still mark the remnants of middle age castles; defiantly they greet the visitor and and convey the impression of unassailabiltiy. On the other hand these compact building parts also stand for consistancy and reliablilty.
Besides, the corner towers are rather unique with their characteristic roof construction which is rarely seen in the Muensterland. We meet this roof construction again at Westerwinkel Castle.
The walls are executed ashlar masonry in the type of cobweb masonry.
Access to the Corps de Logis is lined up with the east-west axis, which is typical for baroque-style castles. This so-called visual axis guides the view of the onlooker into the wide countryside. At Lembeck Castle the visual axis is perfectly implemented into the castle complex, allowing to cast one's eye from the eastern gate through the gates of the castle buildings and more to the far-off western gate.
As is the case with the outer bailey the castle sits on a separate moat. A stone bridge between outer bailey and castle crossed the castle pond, ending at the round-arched gate of the castle. The corps de logis is a two-winged building with three storeys in each wing; the castle's east wing is flanked by a massive corner tower on each side. Also, the entrance is marked by a large risalit with four pilasters integrated on each storey. The pilaster at the first storey bear an entablature and an openwork gable in which the coat of arms and the count's crown are placed, with the coat of arms held by two lions. The massive count's crown is a great peace of art itself.
Beneath the coat of arms there is a round-arched niche is home to a madonna figure holding the infant Jesus on her left arme and a sceptre in her right hand. The niche's round arch is shell-shaped.
A bell hangs in the ridge turret, placed at the very middle of the pointed roof. The eastern gate leads through a brick-built round-arched passage to the castle's courtyard.
Standing in the courtyard, looking towards the garden, we stand in front of two gabled gate pillars with wrought-iron gate wings. On each gable we find a puto, half sitting - half lying, thereby holding a coat of arms. Remarkeably, at this gate it is not a lion holding the coat of arms. Understandeably, a puto has to sit in front of a leasure garden, because putti simple are part of garden interior. Back to the coat of arms which belong to Maria Josefa Westerholt-Hackfurt and to the Ministerial (Droste) Ferdinand Baron of Merveldt zu Westerwinkel.
The gate with its wrought-iron gate wings was built in 1726 by the builder and architect Johann Conrad Schlaun.
As already mentioned the putti replace the lions as holder of the coat of arms. It is the traditional job of putti in baroque gardens to be the helpful little servants. They are the always jolly and cheerful little companions in the size of a child, who never come of age and never get old. The little putti on the gable, with their inward-looking position depict the passage from the normal world into another world where peace and quiet and also ease and comfort free the visitor from all constraints that usually would give us a hard time. The passage leads the visitor into the garden.