A rural farm
The Caillou Farm is located in the hamlet of Le Caillou in Vieux-Genappe, in the Province of Walloon Brabant.
It is located 4 km south of the Lion Mound, along the road that links Charleroi to Brussels.
The Caillou Farm was originally a rural farm built in 1757.
On 17th June 1815, the farm and its 4 acre orchard were being worked by the 78 year-old owner, Henri Jérôme Boucquéau.
On the eve of the Battle of Waterloo, General Bertrand, the Emperor’s aide-de-camp, had Napoleon’s headquarters established at the Caillou farm. The Emperor, surrounded by his General Staff, spent the night of 17th to 18th June 1815 camped in the orchard under the protection of the Imperial Guard. The next day’s battle plans were drawn up in the rooms of the farmhouse.
The day after Napoleon’s defeat, the Prussians burned down the farm. Ruined, Farmer Boucquéau made the decision to sell the Caillou to a farmer in Vieux-Genappe, Jean Joseph Aubry. He, having restored some of the ruins, converted the main building into a tavern.
In 1823, the farm was converted into a coaching inn by its next purchaser, Désiré François, before becoming the property of the provincial architect, Emile Coulon, in 1869.
Emile Coulon was the first to become aware of the historical interest of this residence and paid special attention to its restoration and conservation. He transformed the building in 1889, giving it its present appearance. He purchased some furniture from Boucquéau’s son: three tables, two chairs and a Tournai rug (still to be seen by visitors to the Museum) that Napoleon had used to draw up his battle plan.
In 1905, the architect’s widow sold the property to the Countess of Villegas. Her husband, historian Lucien Laudy, gathered a collection of military souvenirs at the farm and made it a place of pilgrimage. He also had a small brick ossuary erected in the garden, in which were collected the bones of soldiers from 1815.
In 1950, at the historian’s death, the farm was sold to the Belgian Society for Napoleonic Studies (SBEN). In the meantime, on 14th June 1951, the farm, its garden and outbuildings were classified as a historical monument.
In 1972, the SBEN, not having the means to actively manage a museum, sold the property to the
Province of Brabant, which, after some renovation work, opened the Caillou Museum in 1974 as a provincial government institution.
The Museum has been managed by the Province of Walloon Brabant since the Province of Brabant was divided in 1995.
On the occasion of the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo in 2015, the Museum was completely renovated: new scenography, interior and exterior layouts, discovery trails for children and disabled access. This breath of new air for the Museum has respected and included the authenticity and soul of the place.
Through various testimonies and anecdotes from characters in Napoleon’s army, visitors can relive the hours before the Battle of Waterloo.
Alone, with friends or family, each visitor will be able to discover the museum at his own pace and as he sees fit. A playful itinerary is offered for children to help them better understand this moment in history.
The museum is adapted for people with reduced mobility, hearing and deaf people (signed LSFB version with subtitles on the visioguide). The museum is also accessible to the visually impaired (secure route and the tactile experience). Guide dogs are welcome in the museum!