The Castle of Mesen can be found in a park close to the center of Lede, Belgium. Lede is a municipality found in the Belgian province of East Flanders in the Denderstreek, cities close by is Gent, Aalst and Dendermonde. Its origins date back to the 17th century where it was used as a home for various lords prior to its conversion to an industrial place.
The Castle underwent many uses. It was for instance a gin distillery at some point. During the 1800s, it became a tobacco factory, and even a sugar refinery. The castle was then sold in 1897 to a religious order that constructed a remarkable neo-gothic chapel and turned the whole facility into a boarding school.
While it was still in use as recently as the 1960s, a sad succession of abandonment, looting, in addition to a failed attempt to declare the castle as a monument lead to a decision to tear down the entire castle just a few years ago.
Fortunately, photographer Jan Stel of Past Glory managed to slip inside and shoot a few but incredible shots before it disappears forever. In the series we will see the irony of how the beautiful stained glass of its majestic windows contrasts against the ruins and decay of what remains of the structure. It is also a sad example of failure to preserve such an important architectural relic.
Jan Stel is based in Purmerend, Netherlands and is a self taught photographer and Photoshop artist. In an effort to explore and understand life, Stel started taking pictures in his twenties. For more than a decade now Stel has been capturing the fascinating remains of humanity’s past glory, such as the Castle of Mesen.
He is astounded by how so many glorious structures can be left forsaken, from old craft businesses, antiquated machinery, or even tools and equipment that just look as if they were suddenly abandoned.
See some of his poignant work here.