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The cities and towns of our Meetjesland in Flanders, Belgium Deze blz in het NL

Vinderhoute

We find the name Vindreholt in writing for the first time in a deed of the year 966.  In this document King Lotharius spells out the rights and properties of the St. Peters Abbey of Ghent.  Lothair, the eldest son of Louis IV, was the Carolingian king of France from 954 till 986.  The abbey's rights on the church of Vinderhoute are confirmed by the bishop of Doornik (Tournai) in 1121.

The oldest traces of human habitation go back to the early Mesolithic Age.  Artefacts from prehistory were also found in the Kale River Valley.

The Seigneury of Vinderhoute was let by the Count of Flanders himself and it was one of the oldest and most important feudal estates in the county.  In the 13th Century it became the possession of the van Gavere family.  It was transferred to the Laval family in the 15th Century.  In 1517 a Van Pottelsberghe becomes lord of the Seigneury.  Thanks to a marriage contracted in 1548 Jan Wouters, a member of the Council of Flanders, becomes the new lord of Vinderhoute and his family kept the property until the early 18th Century.  Then in 1744 it comes into the hands of the de Carnin family who kept it until this and so much more was swept away by the French Revolution.

The neoclassicistic Saint Bavo Church dates from 1855-56.  It is a brick building with three naves.  It replaced an old Romanic church with a single nave that had become too small and fallen into disrepair. 
Saint Bavo was a Flemish nobleman who lived in the 7th century.  He gave his possessions to the poor and became a monk.  And from there he went on to become a saint.

Vinderhoute is surrounded by water: the Bruges Canal, the Ring Canal (which surrounds much of Ghent), the Gavergracht ("gracht" = ditch) and the Old Kale River.  This has its advantages during a dry Summer but on 25 January 1881 the town council knew 30 of the 387 hectares of the town were inundated due to abundant rain and the dam bursts.  The dams were rebuilt and the Ministry of Transport received a bill for 79,50 franks.  But the innkeeper of "De Roose" also presented a bill for... 85,05 franks for refreshments for the dam workers.  Did they do more drinking than working?  (And then something else occurred to us: 85 franks is nowadays little more than 2 euros.  There was no pub in the land where in the year 2005 you could buy a beer with 1 euro.  That's the result of inflation which is of course no more than a polite word for theft.)  In July 1882 there was a further bill for 165 franks.  Now that huge machines do more work in an hour than hundreds of men with spades and shovels recent work on the dikes cost 15 million franks.

Vinderhoute is ever so close to Ghent, yet it is still a rural and residential town with much agriculture and horticulture.  (See this picture here and here.)  Its size is only 359 ha. (887 acres); yet it has on its territory five sizable castle domains.

The Castle of Vinderhoute, also called the Van Heyghen Castle was the headquarters of the Seigneury.  It was originally a mediaeval fortress but in 1544 Lieven Van Pottelsberghe had most of it demolished and replaced with a new castle.  He kept the beautiful keep, the chapel and the prison cells.  It is surrounded by a park itself surrounded by a moat.  In bygone days two drives led to the Bruges-Ghent road, an oak drive led to the church and a fourth drive led to the Kale River.

The Schouwbroek Castle is an imposing building of 1894 built in the eclectic style.  The 30 meter high belfry dominates the entire building and its surrounding gardens.  The main entrance has a majestic wrought iron gate with behind it three huge old chestnuts.  The domain has a pond with an island in it; it has a icehouse with imitation rocks, a pavillion, a boathouse and numerous elegant little bridges.

Like so many towns in Belgium, in 1977 Vinderhoute lost its independence and became part of Lovendegem.  Had the citizens been allowed to have their say in the matter, we bet the vast majority would have said no.

The source for most of the above is the excellent Meetjesland Regional Guide, "Streekgids Meetjesland", 1998, pp. 101-103 by Romain Coppens.  See also: Our Sources.

More Vinderhoute pictures

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Most recent update: 27 April 2017

Aalter
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Assenede
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Ursel
Vinderhoute
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