One of the sources I used while writing The Devil’s Missal was the journal of Steven Jan de Geuns, a Dutch academic who travelled extensively through Germany in the company of Alexander von Humboldt, passing through Meerbusch on 26th October 1789.
De Geuns waxed lyrical about Krefeld, calling it a beautiful city, clean and the closest to a Dutch city that he had seen (being a Dutchman himself, presumably this was high praise). His sightseeing tour of the city appears to have consisted of a tour of several factories. Meerbusch is mentioned only as consisting of fertile agricultural land. Which sounds about right for the period.
This photograph was taken before the installation of modern gates. The driveway used to be a network of muddy puddles of varying depths. It wasn’t too bad negotiating it in a car, but on a bicycle in the dark it was only for the hardened adventurer….
In the early 1990s the grounds of Schloß Pesch were still hugely overgrown and the ‘lawn’ was a mass of weeds and nettles. During the late 90s a gardening contractor was brought in to clear the weeds and plant a proper lawn. This is what it looked like after it had been newly ploughed, rolled and seeded.
In one history of Meerbusch I came across a picture of a place I don’t recognise. It seems to be a derelict tower standing on its own in woods. The description says it was taken in around 1900.
I have never come across this place in real life – maybe it no longer exists – or maybe it is hidden away off the beaten path somewhere. There are some references in historical documents. From the sixteenth century until at least 1745 it was owned by various members of the von Backum family.