Bois de la Cambre
|Bois de la Cambre|
|Bois de la Cambre (French)|
Ter Kamerenbos (Dutch)
|Location||City of Brussels, Brussels-Capital Region, Belgium|
|Area||122.34 ha (302.3 acres)|
The Bois de la Cambre (French) or Ter Kamerenbos (Dutch) is an urban public park in Brussels, Belgium. It lies in the south of the Brussels-Capital Region, in the municipality of the City of Brussels, and covers an area of 1.23 km2 (0.47 sq mi), forming a natural offshoot of the Sonian Forest, which penetrates deep into the city in the south-east of Brussels. It is linked to the rest of the municipality by the Avenue Louise/Louizalaan, which was built in 1861, at the same time the park was laid out.
The park consists of two large, slightly oval parts. The northern part is the most wooded and is home to some 19th-century buildings. The southern part comprises a 6 hectares (15 acres) large artificial lake with an island in the centre, called Robinson's Island, home to the Chalet Robinson.
As an offshoot of the Sonian Forest during the Ancien Regime, the wooded area where the Bois de la Cambre located today belonged to La Cambre Abbey, located just north of it, and was called the Heeghde or Heegde, an Old Dutch term which could mean "seigneurial wood". In 1840, it was given its current name after the abbey.
On 17 June 1815, on the eve of the Battle of Waterloo, English soldiers played a cricket match on a ground located in the area currently covered by the park. Ever since, this area has been called la Pelouse des Anglais ("The Englishmen's Lawn"), although few are aware of the name. In 1965, the then British Ambassador in Belgium planted an oak tree and unveiled a bronze plaque to commemorate the 150th anniversary of this sporting and historical event.
From 1846, the Brussels authorities wished to provide the city with a large wooded park and proposed a development plan for La Cambre by converting an area of 107 ha (260 acres) of the Sonian Forest. The condition was that two-thirds of the trees would be preserved and a 100 metres (330 ft) zone around the park would remain undeveloped. The decision was prompted by the popularity of the place among well-to-do walkers, who were increasingly less fond of the industrialising Allée Verte/Groendreef in northern Brussels.
The Bois de la Cambre was laid out starting in 1861 by Édouard Keilig, a German architect. His project, relating to English landscaping, was characterised by an irregularity in the plantations and roads, by alternating massifs and clearances allowing beautiful visual escapes, and by the creation of picturesque scenes. The park, property of the Belgian State since 1843, was granted through a royal decree issued on 21 April 1864 to the City of Brussels, which is responsible for its development and maintenance.
In 1866, the park, largely landscaped, was open to the public and aroused considerable enthusiasm. The place quickly became a popular recreational area for the people of Brussels, comparable to the Bois de Boulogne in Paris. In addition to its many promenades, it hosted a dairy, a velodrome, a theatre, an artificial boating lake, as well as a racecourse. Queen Marie-Henriette, wife of King Leopold II, often went riding in the park. The horsemen's battle bronze sculptural group at the entrance is the work of the Anglo-Belgian sculptor Jacques de Lalaing.
20th and 21st centuries
With the rise of motorised traffic in the early 20th century, the Bois de la Cambre's avenues were increasingly turned into thoroughfares fragmenting the park. The park was protected as a landscape in 1976 and was designated a special protection zone within the framework of Natura 2000 in 2004. The main road around the lake has been closed to traffic on Saturdays and Sundays since the 1990s.
The Chalet Robinson
In 1877, the Chalet Robinson, a tea-room café designed in picturesque Swiss chalet style, was built on the lake's island. The chalet was destroyed by a fire in 1991. The decision was made in 2006 to rebuild it and it reopened to the public in September 2009. The surface of the wooden building is approximately 300 m2 (3,200 sq ft), with a restaurant on the ground floor and a ballroom on the first floor. An electrical ferry boat links the island to the shores of the lake.
- "Bois de la Cambre". Bruxelles Environnement (in French). 31 March 2015. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
- Recalling The Swiss Family Robinson, first published in 1812.
- Duquenner 1989, p. 9.
- The text reads: On this field, since called "Pelouse des Anglais" a cricket match was played on the eve of battle by members of British regiments which fought at Waterloo. 1815-1965. On the 150th anniversary HBM Ambassador to Belgium Sir Roderick Barclay KCMG KCVO planted this tree 18 VI 1815.
- "Le bois de La Cambre" (PDF) (in French). p. 11. Retrieved 17 October 2021.
- "Le bois de La Cambre" (PDF) (in French). p. 4. Retrieved 17 October 2021.
- "Le bois de La Cambre" (PDF) (in French). p. 13. Retrieved 17 October 2021.
- Duquenner, Xavier (1989). Le bois de la Cambre (in French). Brussels: Self-published.
Media related to Bois de la Cambre/Ter Kamerenbos at Wikimedia Commons