Last modified: 2005-12-24 by ivan sache
Keywords: estaimpuis | steenput | cross (red) | lions: 4 (red) |
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Municipal flag of Estaimpuis - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 6 June 2005
The municipality of Estaimpuis (9,408 inhabitants; 3,176 ha) is located in the west of Hainaut, between Tournai and Mouscron, on the border with France. It is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Bailleul (559 inh., 415 ha), Estaimbourg (1,289 inh., 400 ha), Estaimpuis (2,557 inh., 318 ha), Evregnies (903 inh., 383 ha), Leers-Nord (1,526 inh., 405 ha), Néchin (2,053 inh., 708 ha) and Saint-Léger (701 inh., 536 ha).
Bailleul is a rural village dating at least back to the XIIth century. The parish church, dedicated to St. Amand, apostle of Flanders, was built with rubble stones from Tournai in Gothic style in the XIII-XIVth century. It was restored in 1910 and 1974, and is still the place of a pilgrimage.
Estaimbourg was called in the XIIth century Stainabourg (lit., the stone castle). The castle built in the beginning of the XIIth century and trashed twice; in 1854, Charles de Bourgogne, Mayor of Estaimbourg from 1835 to 1886 built the Castle of Bourgogne near the site of the ancient castle.
Estaimpuis (in Dutch, Steenput) was probably also named after the
stones. It is possible that building stone was extracted in the past;
it was also said that tin (in French, étain; in Dutch, tinnen) was
extracted in Estaimpuis. The village was crossed by the railway line
Herseaux-Avelgem, inaugurated in 1881, abandoned in 1960 and demolished
in 1970; it is still crossed by the Canal of Espierre, then important
for tourism and transport of goods across the border with France. The
small river Espierre takes its source in France west of Tourcoing and
flows into the Scheldt in Spiere in Flanders (called Espierre in
France; I guess that the river also has two names). The Canal of
Espierres was built in 1884 between Marcq-en-Baroeul, a few kilometers
north of Lille and Spiere; it allows communication between the basin of Scheldt and Lys.
The soap factory Lefèbvre-Fourez employed some 30 workers in Estaimpuis in 1953; it was purchased in 1964 by the Tensia group, which transformed it in a main European producer of detergents, with 230 workers. The factory is owned today by Yplon.
Evregnies is known for the Roman St. Vaast's church (XIth century) and for clog-making. The oldest known clog-maker in Evregnies is François Leplat, who settled there before 1800. His daughter Joséphine married the clog-maker Dolphens, from Bossuyt (France). The family business increased until the end of the Second World War; in 1950, 1,400 pairs of clogs were sold, but only 400 in 1963, when the Desutter workshop, one of the most famous in the region, was closed. In order to maintain the tradition, the Desutter clog-making was purchased by the Folklore Museum "Léon Maes" and a Clog's Festival was organized in Evregnies from 1979 to 1995.
Leers-Nord was named after the German word leer, empty, uncultivated. The village was divided along the Belva street into two twin villages, Leers-North and Leers-South. Under the Ancient Regime, Leers depended on the Bishopric of Tournai but most of the village was ran by the châtellenie of Lille; the borders between the Tournaisis and Lille were extremely complex and caused a lot of trouble to the villagers; in 1671, the parish priest complained because he needed a safe-conduct to visit some of his parishioners. During the epidemics, some parts of the village were quarantined whereas other were not. In 1769, it was decided to officially split Leers beetween the Kingdom of France and the Empire of Austria. The Borders Treaty eventually signed in 1781 allocated the whole village to France, but all the problems were not solved yet. The inhabitants of the villages neighbouring Mouscron complained to the government of the Low Countries because they could no longer go to Tournai, since they had to cross Belva, which was in France. Louis XVI sent a commissionner to retrocede 276 bonniers (a local surface unit) to the Empress. Accurate measurement of the bonniers was not easy, and Leers was split again only in 1790. The borders were fixed in 1819. The Belgian village has kept the name of Leers-Nord whereas the French one is simply called Leers. Leers-Nord and Leers are officially twinned since 14 September 1986.
Néchin is known for the ruins of the castle of la Royère, located in the middle of arable fields. In old French, a royère was a limit (a royer was a furrow). The castle of la Royère is the last remaiing examples of the small fortresses built in the plains in the XIIIth century to watch the border; it was surrounded by a ten-angle wall made in stone from Tournai and protected by towers and bartizans. The castle was built in the first half of the XIIIth century by Arnould IV van Oudenaarde, Baillif of Flanders and Hainaut, probably on the site of an earlier donjon (X-XIth century).
Saint-Léger (Santus Leogardus in 1291, Saint Léogarde in 1302 and Saint
Légier in 1589), once split between Flanders and Hainaut, has ruins of
a castle and a farm built by the Knights Templars. King Philip le Bel
order the suppression of the order and arrested 138 knights in 1307;
some knights escaped to Saint-Léger, then in Flanders. The legend says
that the knights shoed their horses back to front in order to hids
their tracks; when the Provost of Tournai came into the castle of
Saint-Léger in order to arrest the knights, he believed from the tracks
that several riders had joined the Templars' garrison and prefered to
withdraw. The runaways disappeared in the foggy valley of Scheldt and
nobody ever heard from them since 13 October 1307.
There is today in Saint-Léger a pumping station supplying the water towers in Western Flanders.
Ivan Sache, 6 June 2005
The municipal flag of Estaimpuis is yellow with a red cross and a red lion with blue claws and tongue in each quarter. According to Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones, the flag follows the proposal by the Heraldry and Vexillology Council of the French Community:
Jaune à la croix rouge cantonnée de quatre lions rouges, les griffes et la langue bleues.
The flag is a banner of the arms of the former family of Estaimpuis. These arms are shown in the second quarter of the municipal arms and as a banner hold by one of the two lions supporting the shield.
Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 6 June 2005