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Waarschoot (Municipality, Province of East Flanders, Belgium)

Last modified: 2008-04-26 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Waarschoot]

Municipal flag of Waarschoot - Image by Jarig Bakker, 27 May 2003

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Presentation of Waarschoot

The municipality of Waarschoot (7,756 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 2,191 ha) is located in the region of Meetjesland, north-west of Ghent.

Waarschoot was mentioned for the first time in 1244. The oldest of a series of Germanic toponyms in the Meetjesland and Waasland, the name of the village comes from wado, "a post" (in Dutch, wacht) and skauta, "a wooded height emerging from a marshy area".
The marsh of Waarschoot (le muer de Warscote, 1253), later renamed the Westmoer (Western marsh), was in the Middle Ages a wild area scoured by wolves and beasts of that ilk, which explains its nickname of De Wilde Moer (The Wild Marsh). Other marshes and woods surrounding the village completely isolated it from the neighbouring parishes of Eeklo, Lembeke, Sleidinge, Oostwinkel, Zomergem (the mother parish of Waarschoot) and Lovendegem; paths to these villages were progressively built in the Middle Ages.
The woods of Waarschoot were used as a hunting reserve by the Counts of Flanders, while the first settlement was built in a clearing where cattle grazed. The village grew up steadily, so that in 1234, Bishop of Tournai Walter de Marvis made of Waarschoot an independent parish. The new village was granted municipal rights in 1248, which were confirmed by Archdukes Albert and Isabel in 1612. Big farms were set up in the XIIIth century, while communications were improved via the Lieve canal in the south and the Burggravenstroom in the north, which linked Waarschoot to Ghent. Still used to ship goods on small barges to Ghent in 1770, the Lieve was no longer navigable in 1790.

In 1444, Simon Utenhove, burgher of Ghent and Bailiff of Eeklo, was allowed by the Bishop of Tournai to found the Notre-Dame priory of Hove in Waarschoot. After the consecration of the chapel in 1448, the Cistercian monks started to exploit the woods and marshes located north of the priory. In their early years, the monks experienced several dormant conflicts with the neighbouring parishes, while the priory was sacked twice by the French troops in the XVIth century. The rebuilding of the priory was tedious, so that the monks definitively moved to Ghent in 1662 and transferred their domain to the local farmers.
Ruined and destroyed several times in the XVI-XVIIth centuries, Waarschoot reemerged in the XVIIIth century, the population increasing from 3,000 to more than 5,000 in 1795. Agriculture was still the main activity but more and more villagers relied also on homework; at the end of the XVIIIth century, there were 440 families living from linen weaving. This local industry was superseded in the XIXth century by the mechanized cotton mills. Following the big food crisis of 1845-1848, more than half of the villagers relied on aid. Alphabetization and the development of the textile and services industries allowed the growth of Waarschoot, that became after the Second World War a semi-industrial town.

Source: Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 14 December 2007

Municipal flag of Waarschoot

The municipal flag of Waarschoot is horizontally divided yellow-green-white-black.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel, the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 27 May 1982, confirmed by the Executive of Flanders on 3 June 1985 and published in the Belgian official gazette on 8 July 1986.
The colours of the flag are taken from the municipal arms.

The history of the arms of Waarschoot is related by Achiel de Vos (Geschiedenis van Waarschoot, 1990). In 1817, the Municipal Council applied for the grant of arms showing the village's fountain as the central element, but the application was never reviewed. On 27 May 1982, the Municipal Council adopted arms as In sinopel een gekroonde Onze-Lieve-Vrouw met Kind, beiden met nimbus, neerzittend in een bloementuin, alles van goud, met aan haar voeten een schildje van sabel beladen met een gemetselde burcht van zilver (Vert a Blessed Virgin with Baby Jesus, crowned and nimbed, sitting in a garden, all or, to her feet an escutcheon sable a castle argent).
The Blessed Virgin with Baby Jesus comes from the arms of the former priory of Hove. The escutcheon represents the arms of the Oudburg in Ghent, whose Grand Bailiff officially represented the prince as the lord of Waarschoot.

The municipal flag of Waarschoot is officially described as Vier even hoge banen van geel, van groen, van wit en van zwart.
Black and yellow are the colours of Flanders while green and white are those of Meetjesland.

Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 14 December 2007