The oldest photograph of Schloß Pesch in existence is in the town archives at Krefeld. It shows the schloss prior to the extensions and renovations which were carried out in 1884.
Immediately to the right of Schloss Pesch is the old farm which supplied the estate. For nearly three decades it has been used partly as a gallery for wonderful sculptures. The lovely shaped gable in the picture was rebuilt in the late 1990s after it was badly damaged by a falling tree.
Back in the days before the park was remodelled, it was quite common to see deer grazing in the grounds, especially in the early mornings. Of course as the park backs onto the Herrenbusch – you’d expect that.
What fewer people know is that it was also not uncommon to find cows grazing on what would once have been the lawn.
Not that the residents actually kept cows. Behind the row of trees at the back of this image there is a field before you reach the woods. The cows which inhabited that field were quite adventurous and enjoyed making occasional excursions through the hedge to roam the grounds of Schloss Pesch. Back then the residents were quite OK with the cows.
Once the park was tidied up and the lawns relaid, the cows were increasingly discouraged from using them as a pasture. It took a while for the cows to take that message on board though.
Much has changed at Schloß Pesch since the 1970s. Back then, the schloss was abandoned and in a state of disrepair with peeling paint, cracked plaster, its grounds wild and overgrown. Since then it has been extensively renovated and turned into upmarket apartments. The park has been tamed and the ghosts are firmly discouraged. I found these two videos online which capture the transformation which has taken place.
One of the most engaging aspects of The Devil’s Missal is the eerie setting of Schloss Pesch in Meerbusch for some of the key scenes. Since the events of the book the schloss has been extensively cleaned and renovated, to remove the decay and ghostly atmosphere which is so redolent in the novel. In particular the dilapidated old chapel which plays a crucial role in The Devil’s Missal has been renovated almost beyond recognition. For readers who know what went on there, this will come as a relief…
I chose Schloss Pesch in Meerbusch and the woods surrounding it as the setting for The Devil’s Missal. The atmosphere is perfect for an eerie tale of occult happenings and mystery. These are three photographs I took from an upper window of the Schloss very early one morning before the Rheinland mist had fully cleared.
Views from Schloss Pesch looking east towards Schürkesfeld.
The Devil’s Missal is Cathy Dobson’s latest novel, an intelligently constructed psychological thriller set in the Rhineland, combining classic horror themes with the terrifying history of witchcraft and sexual deviance through the ages, all under the oppressive shadow of a corrupted church.