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Londerzeel (Municipality, Province of Flemish Brabant, Belgium)

Last modified: 2005-12-03 by ivan sache
Keywords: londerzeel | malderen | steenhuffel | axes: 6 (red) | crown (yellow) | cat (white) | diamonds: 2 (red) |
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[Flag of Londerzeel]

Municipal flag of Londerzeel - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 17 July 2005

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Presentation of Londerzeel and its villages

The municipality of Londerzeel (17,000 inhabitants) is located 10 km north of Brussels. It is made since 1977 of the former municipalities of Londerzeel, Malderen and Steenhuffel.

The name of Londerzeel dates back to 600-750, which was the period when Frankish toponyms ending with the suffix -zele (Dadizele, Liezele, Mazenzele...) were formed. It was originally Lundersala, that is Lunder's estate. A village was later built on the crossroads of the Asse-Mechlin and Grimbergen-Puurs roads.

Londerzeel is famous for chicken farming, which was the main source of income in the borough of Londerzeel-Sint-Jozef. Chicken farmers were nicknamed kiekenpoeliers (chicken merchants), a nickname which was quickly extended to all the inhabitants of Londerzeel. Their customers from Brussels were nicknamed kiekenfretters, because they did not in the least mind being seen fond of Londerzeel chickens. This glorious past is remembered by the Orde van de kiekenpoot (Order of the Chicken Leg), which organizes every year the Gouden Kiekenpootworp (Golden Throwing of Chicken Leg). During this event, some 2,500 real chicken legs are thrown towards the crowd from the steps of the city hall. The happy catcher of the first thrown chicken leg shall be awarded a golden jewel offered by juwelmaker Eeraets. There is an other 250 (dead) chicken to be won, offered every year by a different chicken farmer. The last winner of the Kiekenpootworp was Andy Slachmuylders, 13 years, from Wolvertem. There is even a bronze statue of a chicken leg made by Pol van Esbroeck placed in a niche on the right of the entrance of the city hall. Every year for the Kiekenpootworp, the statue is dressed differently. This is of course a veiled reference to Manneke Pis in Brussels.

The cyclist rally of Londerzeel was organized from 1953 to 1994, with gaps. Among its famous winners are Rik van Steenbergen (1957, 1960), André Darrigade (1958), Rik van Looy (1959, 1967), Herman van Springel (1968), Eddy Merckx (1969, 1973, 1974), Rik van Linden (1972, 1981), Freddy Maertens (1975), Roger de Vlaeminck (1976, 1979), Walter Godefroot (1977), Francesco Moser (1978, 1980) and Fons de Wolf (1984).

The St. Christopher's pilgrimage takes place in Londerzeel on the first Sunday of August. The blessing of the cars has been organized during the pilgrimage since 1929 by the Sint-Kristoffel Broederschap (St. Christopher's Brotherhood). St. Christopher is the patron of the travelers; he is celebrated on 25 July. The St. Christopher's parish of Londerzeel is the only one dedicated to that saint in the diocese of Brussels-Mechlin.

Londerzeel is the birth city of the Belgian writer Gerard Walschap (1898-1989), who published from 1923 to his death. His trilogy of Catholic inspiration, Adelaide (1929), Eric (1931) and Carla (1933), grouped into De familie Roothooft (The Roothooft family) in 1939, caused a fierce controversy because Walschap did not follow the official canons of the church. The writer progressively broke with the church and his further books expressed materialist vitalism and tolerance (Celibaat, Celibacy, 1934; Bejegening van Christus, Meeting Christ, 1940; Oproer in Congo, Insurrection in Congo, 1953; De verloren zoon, The prodigal son, 1958; Alter Ego, 1964 - the protagonist of this rather gruesome novel, the theme of which is the Double, is a flagmaker or at least owns a firm where banners are made). Walschap also wrote mystic poems (Liederen van leed, Mourning songs, 1923; De loutering, Cleansing, 1925), fantasy tales (De ongelooflijke avonturen van Tilman Armenaas, The incredible adventures of Tilman Armenaas, 1960), essays (Muziek voor twee stemmen, Music for two voices,1963) and books for children (De vierde koning, The fourth king, 1935/36).

(Note written after Dictionnaire des Littératures, Larousse.)

Malderen as a parish originally included Opdorp (today part of the municipality of Buggenhout). In the beginning of the XIth century, Opdorp seceded from Malderen and was incorporated into the County of Flanders. Malderen was shared by the Duke of Brabant and the Berthout, lords of Grimbergen.
In Malderen, the windmill called Heidemolen is said to be one of the oldest mills in Belgium, dating back at least to 1179. However, it seems that this date is a faulty reading of the date encarved on a beam of the mill, most probably 1779. The oldest mention of the mill can be found in a will dated 1475. The mill is listed in the chart granted to Malderen by Jan van Acoleyen on 27 August 1717. The last miller of the Heidemolen, Warken(Eduardus) Leem, retired in 1943. The sails of the mill were changed in 1971 and stays were added in 1981. On 28 January 1990, a violent storm blew the mill down. The municipality of Londerzeel commissioned the Caers millmaking company to rebuild the mill, using when possible parts of the old mill. The Heidemolen mill is now used to grind grain.

Steenhuffel was founded in the XIth century by lord Hobosch of Merchtem. The Bouchout family showed up in Steenhuffel around 1275. Its descendants were vassals of the Duke of Brabant.
The Diepensteyn castle in Steenhuffel is famous for the breeding of the draught horse bred known as cheval brabançon (in French) or Brabantse trekpaard (in Dutch). The origin of this horse bred is very ancient, probably before Christ. The Brabant horse stems from the Flemish horse, originally bred in the maritime plains of Flanders. The golden age of the Brabant horse was the period 1880-1950, when it was widely used in agriculture. The horse was later superseded by tractors. The Brabant horse is the emblem of the Palm brewery, and can be seen on the labels of the Palm beer bottles.

Source: Municipal website

Ivan Sache & Jan Mertens, 29 July 2005

Municipal flag of Londerzeel

The municipal flag of Londerzeel is vertically divided red-yellow-blue, with a shield in each stripe:

  • in the red stripe, a white shield, quartered, first and fourth a white field with three red stripes, second and third, a white field with three red axes; the shield is topped with a ducal crown
  • in the yellow stripe, a shield horizontally divided yellow-blue-yellow with a red saltire overall, surmonted with a yellow clasp (fermail)
  • in the blue stripe, a white shield with two red lozenges; the shield is topped by a white cat holding a mouse in her mouth.

According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel, the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 25 October 1977, confirmed by Royal Decree on 19 July 1978 and published in the Belgian official gazette on 9 May 1979.

The colours of the flag come from the arms of Londerzeel, which are represented in the middle of the yellow stripe. Their official blazon is:

Goud een dwarsbalk van lazuur, twee staven van keel, kruiselings geplaatst over het alles heen. het schild getopt met een gesp van goud.

That is (excluding the clasp):
Or a fess azure a saltire gules overall.

These arms were used by the municipality of Londerzeel before the administrative reform and are still used by the current municipality of Londerzeel. According to Servais, they were granted on 16 August 1927 and are similar to the arms of Grimbergen, whose lord was also lord of Londerzeel until 1764. The seals used by the local council in the XIVth and XVIth century also shows the arms of Grimbergen. The arms of Grimbergen are known since the XIIIth century.

The arms of the former municipality of Malderen are shown in the red stripe of the flag. They are:

Quartered, first and fourth argent three fesses gules, second and third three (axes) gules.

Those particular axes are called in Dutch disselbijlen, in French doloires. According to Servais, these arms were granted on 15 October 1951 and the crown is part of their official design. They were the arms of the Barons de Croÿ-Renty. François-Albert of Croÿ married the daughter of Baron de Fay, owner of Malderen since 1662. Their daughter married Henri Wild und Rheingrave, Count de Salm-Kyrbourg. Malderen remained in the Salm family until 1792. The only known seal of Malderen dates from 1748 and shows two shields, the first with the arms of the Croÿ-Renty family and the second the arms of Wild und Rheingrave. The municipality, however, adopted only the first arms as the municipal arms in 1951.
The arms of the Croÿ-Renty family are also used on the municipal flag and arms of Bever.

The arms of the former municipality of Steenhuffen are shown in the blue stripe of the flag. They are:

Argent two spindles gules.

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 17 July 2005