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Brugelette (Municipality, Province of Hainaut, Belgium)

Last modified: 2005-11-12 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Brugelette]

Municipal flag of Brugelette - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 21 May 2005

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Presentation of Brugelette and its villages

The municipality of Brugelette (3,3310 inhabitants on 31 December 1998; 2,840 ha) is located in the valley of Dendre, 10 km south-east of Ath, in Western Hainaut. It is made of the former municipalities of Attre, Brugelette, Cambron-Casteau, Gages and Mévergnies.
In the past, Brugelette was mostly a rural municipality, even if the number of farms does not stop decreasing. The village of Brugelette hosts one of the main factories in the region, the sugar house (Sucrerie de Brugelette) owned by S.A. Raffinerie Tirlemontoise, the main sugar company in Belgium. The first sugar house was founded in Brugelette in 1836. Brugelette also lives from tourism, with two main spots, the castle of Attre (XVIIIth century, 6,000 visitors per year) and Parc Paradisio, set up in the former Cistercian abbey of Cambron (XIth century, 300,000 visitors per year, that is the first tourist spot in Hainaut).

The name of Brugelette appeared around 1070. A popular tradition claims that the first lady of the domain of Brugelette came from Bruges and named her new place of residence Brugelette, Little Bruges. The historian Christian Cannuyer confirms that the suffix -elette is a diminutive, but adds that there is no clue on the meaning of the root brug- in Brugelette.
Flints found in the hamlets of Bolignies and Frésignies confirmed that the valley of Eastern Dendre was settled near Brugelette in the Prehistoric times. In the Middle Ages, Brugelette was divided into the four domains of Hérimez (successively owned by the Gavre, Looz, Walcourt-Rochefort, Jauche-Mastaing and eventually Ongnies families), Brugelette (owned by the Brugelette family and incorporated in the XIVth century to the domain of Hérimez), Brolignies (owned by the Mastaing family) and Brakel, aka Bragues. Religious communities were also present in Brugelette, for instance the Wisbecq Hospital, founded before 1243 and taken over in 1406 by the Grey Sisters. The choir of the church (1557) hosts the funerary monuments of the Jauche-Mastaing family.

Attre formed with Arbre a domain successively owned by the Arbre, Lalaing (XVth century), Croÿ (1502) and Buignies (1510) families. The domain was later transfered to the family of Franeau d'Hyon, Counts of Gommegnies and Chamberlains at the Hapsburg court, in the XVIIIth century, which sold its possessions to Duval de Beaulieu during the French rule. The abbeys of Liessies and Epinlieu had farms in Attre. On 28 September 1624, the French captured Tilly, the generalissimo of the Imperial army, in Attre.
In 1752, François-Philippe-Jospeh Franeau de Gommegnies rebuilt the castle of Attre in style Louis XV. Archiduke Albert of Saxe-Teschen and his wife Maria Christina, Governors General of the Low Countries, often stayed in the castle from 1782 to 1788. In 1831, Count Duval set up in the castle the first stud farm in Belgium, following plans drafted by the great architect Dewez. The castle is surrounded by a landscaped garden decorated with follies and artificial rocks.

Cambron is mentioned in the VIIIth century as a single village made of Cambron-Casteau, Cambron-Mairie (suppressed in 1805) and Cambron-Saint-Vincent. In 1148, St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) founded in Cambron a Cistercian abbey, which became one of the wealthiest abbeys in Hainaut and was suppressed in 1789 by Joseph II. Remains of the abbey include the abbey church tower (1774), the grand staircase (1776), the cellar (XIIIth century, one of the oldest remains of Gothic architecture in Belgium) and the medieval wall surrounding the abbey (the only wall of that kind totally preserved in Belgium). In the Middle Ages, the village of Cambron was split among the Chapter of St. Vincent's church in Soignies, the domain of Hérimez, the abbey of Anchin and the County of Mastaing.
Parc Paradisio, built in the former abbey domain, shows more than 2,500 birds representing 300 local and exotic species, living in natural biotopes recreated by specialists; it has the greatest aviary in Europe and a 7,000 sq. m greenhouse.

Gages, known since the XIIth century, belonged to the domain of Le Roeulx. St. Sibyl de Gages, who died in 1250 in the abbaey of Aywières, belonged to the local ruling family. In 1334, Gerard de Gages split his domain in two parts and sold them: the first part was purchased by Ernoul de Gavre and later transfered to several owners, including Nicolas Rolin (1376-1462), Chancellor of Duke of Burgundy Philip the Handsome, and eventually the Counts de Berlaymont; the second part was purchased by the Hénin family, from Boussu, and then to the Dumont, Marquis de Gages since 1758. The abbeys of Cambron, Aywières and Anchin also owned land in Gages.

Mévergnies, mentioned in 1131 but of probable Frankish origin, partially depended on the abbey of Liessies. In 1252, the butcher Gérard le Rond was murdered near his farm "La Loé" by Flemish vassals of Marguerite de Constantinople. The murder started the guerre des Ronds (Rounds' War). The village was split among three main domains: Mévergnies, ruled by the lord of Brugelette for the abbey of Liessies; the domain owned by the abbey of Anchin; and Venise, with a small fortress suppressed in 1572. In the XVIIth century, stone extraction started in Mévergnies and lasted until the 1930s; limestone and the Mévergnies sandstone, highly appreciated by King Léopold II were extracted by dozens of workers.

Source: Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 21 May 2005

Municipal flag of Brugelette

The municipal flag of Brugelette, as confirmed by the municipal administration, is white with the municipal coat of arms in the middle. The municipal arms of Brugelette are:

De gueules à la fasce d'or accompagnée en chef d'une divise vivrée du même.

[Proposal of flag of Brugelette]

Proposed municipal flag of Brugelette - not used - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 16 May 2005

According to Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones, the Heraldry and Vexillology Council of the French Community proposed a banner of the municipal arms, with the following description:

Trois laizes longitudinales rouge, jaune et rouge (3-2-3), la laize supérieure chargée d'une mince laize brisée jaune.

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 21 May 2005