Château De Bitremont

Chateau de Bitremont

This castle, dating from the 13th century, is known worldwide for the first nicotine-murder.



Here is the true story:


In 1851 Belgian society was stunned when the Count Hippolyte Visart de Bocarmé and the Countess were charged with the murder of the Countess’s brother Gustave Fougnies.

The couple had been accused of murder by their servants who had witnessed a horrific night in their grand Chateau Bitremont.

Ida Visart de Bury

Ida Visart de Bury, mother of Count Hippolyte Visart de Bocarmé


Gustave, who had spent the day with the couple and their young children was found dead in the dining room, his face terribly contorted and burnt a ghastly black.

Muffled cries had been heard in the chateau after dinner, and the Countess had rushed around the chateau shutting all the doors.

The Count and Countess then called upon their servants to wash the dead man all over with vinegar and help to scrub the floorboards in the room where he had died.

They were told that he’d had a stroke, but they suspected foul play.

The suspects.


Unluckily for the Bocarmes, a Belgian scientist, Jean Stas, was at the forefront of research into detecting alkaloids in human remains.

With pioneering experiments on Gustave’s organs he discovered that he had been murdered by nicotine.

A corrosive extract of pure nicotine that had been poured down his throat.

His work on the case earned him a place in the history books, and his methods of detection are still used to this day.


Jean Stas

Jean Stas


The Count, but interestingly not the Countess, was found guilty of the murder and guillotined in 1851.


Based on this event, Pierre Bouchardon wrote a book: "Le crime du chateau de Bitremont".



Current status: Under reconstruction

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