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Walhain (Municipality, Province of Walloon Brabant, Belgium)

Last modified: 2008-04-26 by ivan sache
Keywords: walhain | cross: patty (red and blue) | tourinnes-saint-lambert |
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[Flag of Walhain]

Municipal flag of Walhain - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 11 January 2008

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Presentation of Walhain and its villages

The municipality of Walhain (6,088 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 3,794 ha) is located south-east of Wavre. The municipality of Walhain was formed in 1976 by the merging of the former municipalities of Walhain-Saint-Paul, Nil-Saint-Vincent-Saint-Martin and Tourinnes-Saint-Lambert.

Walhain-Saint-Paul is made of the village of Walhain proper, grouped around the parish church and known as Grand Walhain, with the castle, the market hall, an hospital and a few burghers' houses, and of the hamlet of Saint-Paul, once owned by the St. Paul Chapter of Liège. More remote hamlets are Sart-Walhain, once owned by the abbey of Villers, and Perbais, located close to the village of Chastre and having in the past its own municipal court. There was no mill in Walhain but the watermill of Godeupont, enclaved in the domain of Chastre on a territory purchased in 1199 from the abbey of Nivelles.
The lords of Walhain, once powerful, extincted with Arnould V in 1304. After several lords who did not care either of the domain or of the castle, Walhain was purchased in 1430 by Antoine de Glimes, member of the then most famous lineage in Brabant. In 1532, Emperor Charles V erected Walhain a County, including the domains of Glimes, Hévillers, Opprebais and Wavre. After the death of Jean IV de Berghes in 1567, the castle was abandoned and fell into ruins.
There was no significant industry in Walhain while Perbais had a brickyard already mentioned in the XVIth century, a stone quarry, some buildings of the sugar house built in Chastre in 1882, and a dairy farm.
Jean-Joseph Strijckmans, born in Walhain-Saint-Paul in 1806, organized the emigration of villagers to Wisconsin (USA); in 1855, he spent a few times in the region of Greenbay and organized the transport of 250 emigrants to the USA. There is a town called Walhain in Wisconsin.
In the great movie Le huitième jour (The Eighth Day), by Jaco van Dormael (1996), the two main characters, played by Pascal Duquenne and Daniel Auteuil, meet for the first time in Walhain.

Nil-Saint-Martin-Saint-Vincent is built in the valley of Nil. Inhabited in the Roman times, the region was abandoned after the great invasions and resettled in the medieval times. The domain of Nil-Pierreux belonged to the Principality of Liège. In 1218, the Salzinnes abbey was granted the domain of Saint-Vincent by the abbey of Stavelot-Malmedy. The abbey of Nivelles, however, owned most of the territory between Nil-Pierreux and Nil-Saint-Vincent, which was known as Nil-Abbesse. Nil-Saint-Martin was shared between the abbey of Gembloux and the Dukes of Brabant, who transferred their domain to the lords of Sombreffe, builders of the castle of Saint-Martin. Nil-Saint-Martin and Nil-Saint-Vincent were merged by Imperial Decree in 1812.
Nil-Saint-Vincent is the geographical center of Belgium, as officialized on 22 August 1998. The geographer Jean-Georges Affholder, from the French Institut Géographique National (IGN), calculated on the Hayford ellipsoid the coordinates of the center of Belgium as 50 ° 38'28"N and 04 ° 40'05" E. The calculation confirmed a previous estimate of the center of Belgium made in 1989 but never officialized. Beforehand, the geographical center of Belgium was a public square located in Ittre, but the calculation did not accounted for the Eastern Cantons reincorporated to Belgium in 1919.

Tourinnes-Saint-Lambert is made of the two villages of Tourinnes-les-Ourdons and Saint-Lambert-Libersart and of the hamlet of Lerinnes. The Gallo-Roman vicus of Tourinnes, located on a diverticulum linked to the main way Bavay-Cologne and a renowned pottery production center, was abandoned after the great invasions. Resettled in the V-Xth centuries, the parish of Tourinnes included the villages of Saint-Lambert, Saint-Paul, Walhain, Sart-Walhain and Lerinnes. For long, Tourinnes remained isolated from the neighbouring villages by the lack of good roads. Created by the French rulers on 31 August 1795, the municipalities of Tourinnes-les-Ourdons and Saint-Lambert-Libersart were merged under the Dutch rule, in 1822, to form the new municipality Tourinnes-Saint-Lambert.

Source: Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 18 December 2007

Municipal flag of Walhain

The municipal flag of Walhain is white with a cross patty made of a red vertical arm over a blue horizontal arm.
According to Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones, the flag is a banner of the municipal arms.

The Walhain Municipal Bulletin #23 (January 2001) has a detailed account on the arms of Walhain.
The municipal arms of Walhain were granted by Royal Decree on 11 August 1981. They are not the arms of the former lords of Walhain, shown in the Gelre Armorial, as "Or an escutcheon vert a baton compony argent and gules", for Jean "Lancelot", lord of Walhain (Lanseloot v. Waelheym, #830, folio 73r). Rather, they are the former municipal arms of Tourinnes-Saint-Lambert, granted by Royal Decree on 10 December 1965 as D'argent à une croix pattée et alésée, au montant de gueules brochant sur la traverse d'azur.
Knight Gilles de Lerinnes, owner of the small domain of the same name, today part of Tourinnes-Saint-Lambert, went on the Crusade in the XIIth century. Captured by the Sarracens, he was liberated thanks to monks from the Order of the Holy Trinity, whose aim was to buy back Christian prisoners from the Muslims. The full name of the order was Ordre des Trinitaires pour le rachat des captifs (Trinitarian Order for the Repurchase of the Prisoners). As a reward, Gilles transferred around 1220-1225 his domain and the chapel dedicated to the Saint Saviour. The Trinitarians set up a priory that existed until 1783, when Emperor Josef II suppressed the "unnecessary" monasteries. The Trinitarians wore a white coat and a cope decorated with a red and blue cross patty. The priors were lords of Lerinnes and of a part of Tourinnes-les-Ourdons; their municipal court used a seal with the Trinitarian cross.

Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 18 December 2007