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Asselborn Post House – Clerveaux

History of the house

Postal Coaching Inn, imperial mail coaches, shale walls and eco-construction

The Post House of Asselborn (Domaine touristique des Ardennes Luxembourgeoises à Asselborn) has much to tell about the history of the post and courier in the last five centuries. The well known “Thurn and Taxis” international courier service was founded at the behest of the Emperor Maximilian of Austria by François de Tassis in 1504. The Asselborn Coaching Inn, built on the route between Innsbruck (A) and Mechelen (B) was the only postal coaching inn in Luxembourg from 1550 to 1680.

Post House of Asselborn - PostillionIt housed the Postmaster and various postilions, responsible for ensuring the transportation of mail boxes to the next coaching stop and included an inn and stables for travellers. The site also had a barn and land supplying forage for the horses.

The Kleffer family, designated as post masters, managed the Asselborn coaching inn for four generations. This position came with various privileges. Several members of the family became the local mayor.

routes_tour_et_taxis

(c) Post House Asselborn

The postal service regularly fell victim to tensions between France, Austria and Spain. Moreover, the coaching inn was pillaged in the 17th century. The mail route was unfortunately diverted to Arlon and Luxembourg in 1682, causing a dramatic change in circumstances for Asselborn’s old “Postal House”, which was fought over by the last Postmaster’s descendants.

Recently bought up, this site has undergone an impressive renovation and is now a hotel-restaurant, thus renewing links with its original designation.

The life of a postillion

postillonThe postilion was responsible for transporting and protecting the mail. In winter, when high water made the crossing of fords impossible, he had to make a considerable detour to use a bridge. On one occasion an accident occurred along the flooded river banks. The horse slipped on a stone and fell. The animal complete with postal bag was dragged into the river. Would it be stopped at the next mill? The postmaster had to make a report of the accident to the general postmaster, the Count of Tour and Taxis, who recommended the mailbag be opened if found, its contents dried and returned to Brussels, except the Emperor’s mail which should be sent on its way to Vienna as soon as possible.

Bringing an old post house back to life

Post House of Asselborn - LuxembourgThe recent renovation, after thorough historical and archaeological research, has aimed to return the building to its initial function as a hotel for travellers, with brewery and restaurant. Given the state and size of the traditional shale construction, the interior has been demolished but those original features still in good condition have been retained.

The owners have selected the new construction materials (such as clay walls) with care to keep the ecological impact on the building to a minimum.

Fine example of the restoration of an ancient building, integrating contemporary architectural elements, in keeping with the Venice Charter (recent work must “bear a contemporary stamp”, with no attempt to produce a “fake old” effect). The reinforced concrete, triple-glazing and black steel blend harmoniously together with the solid shale walls and venerable wooden beams.

You will admire the way the owners of the Post House of Asselborn have taken great pains to preserve the many features of the old building, which are beautifully enhanced, as well as the general décor, which focuses on the role of post carriers throughout the ages (up to modern means of communication).

Asselborn Post HouseThe old well, the door lintel with its ogival arch, the many old beams, sturdy shale walls … all bear witness to the building’s former function, as does the mail coach located in the brewery, a faithful copy of a 17th century original. Spotlight on the wholly delightful “Script Room” on the first floor, which includes a fine collection of quill pens, inkwells and other writing implements in a bygone classroom setting and don’t forget the collection of various communication devices – definitely worth a visit.

intoHistory TipOur article on the Asselborn Mill and Post House will let you discover the atmosphere of the site from a different angle: “Sparkling river, age-old mill and imperial mail coaches“.

 

Interview of Leon Nilles and Séphanie Dauch, owner and manager of the Post House of Asselborn (see the second half of the clip – this video is only available in French for the moment)

Do not forget to add intoHistory’s PROMOTION CODE ‘History′ to get a 10€ discount on your reservation.

Inkstands Museum

Post House of Asselborn - Inkstands museumDo not miss the delicious Inkstands Museum, on the first floor of the Post House of Asselborn, just above the restaurant (open Saturday and Sunday afternoon). From the clay tablet to steel dip pens, immerse yourself in the heart of the history of writing. A delightful collection of inkwells and quill pens made of wood, leather, ceramic, crystal, silver or precious metal alloys, takes you through lots of styles and eras. Audio-guides on request (Fr-En).

Insider Tips

None of the bedrooms of the Post House of Asselborn dates from the period. Nonetheless, their themed presentation (the Thurn and Taxi suite, the Postilion’s room, the Postmaster’s room, the Postal Route room, etc.), offers the traveller the opportunity to see some of the postmaster’s daily concerns for himself.

The most “historic” one is probably no 8, with its authentic postal routes.

Post House of Asselborn - LuxembourgIf you see them, do not hesitate to ask Leon Nilles (owner) or Stéphanie Dauch (Manager) to tell you the history of the site and the exciting life of the postmasters of the Tour and Taxis company.

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Facilities

  • Do not forget to add intoHistory’s PROMOTION CODE ‘History′ to get a 10€ discount on your reservation (see example)
  • 9 bedrooms (to be combined in family suites)
  • Restaurant + Bar
  • Reception and breakfast at the Asselborn Mill (800 m.)
  • TV / Wifi
  • Inkstands museum (Saturday and Sunday afternoon)
  • Terrace
  • Spoken languages: Luxembourgish, English, French, German
  • The restaurant only open in the high season
  • Nearest city: Clervaux (10 min.) and Diekirch (30 min.)
  • Private parking
  • Luxembourg airport: 70 km
  • Non-smoking interior

In the neighbourhood

Tunnel Bernistap-Hoffelt - Canal Meuse Moselle

This mysterious tunnel for boats was never achieved because of the Belgian Revolution (and the lack of financial means it occasioned).

To read, watch or listen to

To fully appreciate the period atmosphere of the Asselborn Post House, do not hesitate to enhance your stay by reading a few books (nothing beats a good historical novel to bring old stones back to life). Listening to some period music may also be a good way to transport you back in time… A few suggestions:

Books to be devoured in situ

  • “Le Relais postal d’Asselborn”, by Lucie Krier (available on location – in French only)
    History of the international courrier service in Luxembourg. Well documented report based on archival research about the Post house of Asselborn and an illustrated description of the renovation of the site. Halfway between a scientific dossier and an educational guide.
  • “Masters of the Post: The Authorized History of the Royal Mail”, by Duncan Campbell-Smith
    When the family of Thurn and Taxis sets up the international courier service in the Holy Roman Empire, Great Britain also instigates a network of post houses at the initiative of King Henry VIII. This book relates the founding years and the development of the Royal Mail up to the days when it became the first employer in the country. An extremely well documented story, thanks to unpublished archives.

Period music to be enjoyed on location

  • “Baroque Chamber Music”, by Johann Joseph Fux
    This Austrian composer, choirmaster of the Imperial Court in 1715, left many Baroque compositions. His works of chamber music, more discreet than his masses and operas, lets us imagine the atmosphere of the lounges where the precious letters transiting through Asselborn were written.
  • “Les Barricades mystérieuses” (harpsichord), by François Couperin
    AA more intimate work, chosen for its lightness and zest, because it goes well with the image I have of a postman leading his horse through fields and woods to its destination, where a fire in the fireplace awaits (listen here to an interpretation on the harpsichord).

 

Some of the links below will enable you to consult the recommended titles directly on Amazon.com. If you decide to purchase one of these titles via this link, please note that intoHistory will receive a small commission on your transaction, which will help towards covering its running costs.

Guests comments

Évaluation selon 1 avis:

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Gery de Pierpont

05-12-2013

C'est surtout l'aménagement de l'ancien relais postal qui est intéressant, plus que les restes du bâtiment originel, fortement remaniés aux cours des travaux de restauration. J'ai apprécié les nombreux éléments "témoins" préservés, le linteau de pierre sculpté, le vieux puits, le fragment de paroi en torchis avec ses enduits, les segments de poutres réutilisés dans la décoration.
Restaurant raffiné, aux saveurs locales giboyeuses. Belle cave aussi, pour découvrir les vins blancs du Luxembourg.
Les chambres sont claires et spacieuses, meublées avec goût d'objets chinés en brocante, tous liés à un thème. On y dort d'un sommeil campagnard et paisible (malgré l'éclairage public qui s'infiltre par la fenêtre de la salle de bains). Sanitaires très propres, soignés et modernes.
Petit déjeuner au Vieux Moulin (700 m en contrebas), qui permet de découvrir cet autre vestige du passé d'Asselborn.

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16th century Post House Inn/Hostel 100-150€/room

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Auberge du Relais postal d’Asselborn ***
Maison 164
L-9940   ASSELBORN
+352 99 86 16
resa@hotelvieuxmoulin.lu
Post House’s own web site
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