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Fernelmont (Municipality, Province of Namur, Belgium)

Last modified: 2014-01-12 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Fernelmont]

Municipal flag of Fernelmont - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 4 June 2005

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Presentation of Fernelmont and its villages

The municipality of Fernelmont (6,749 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 6,558 ha) is located on the plateau of Hesbaye, 15 km north-east of Namur. The municipality of Fernelmont was made in 1976 by the merging of the former municipalities of Bierwart (434 inh.), Cortil-Wodon (867 inh.), Forville (1,155 inh.), Franc-Warêt (240 inh.), Hemptinne (467 inh.), Hingeon (723 inh.), Marchovelette (723 inh.), Noville-les-Bois (1,326 inh., seat of the municipality), Pontillas (548 inh.) and Tillier (169 inh.). Fernelmont is located on the border with the Province of Liège; the Belgian provinces were designed in 1814 but the (then) municipalities of Bierwart, Forville, Franc-Warêt, Hemptinne, Hingeon, Pontillas and Tillier were incorporated into the Province of Namur only in 1823.

The municipality is named after the castle of Fernelmont, located close to Noville-les-Bois and surrounded by moats watered by the river Petit Hoyoux.
The early history of the castle is obscure. The Fernelmont family came from Noville, where Jean de Jodion and his wife Hawide de Faing owned a big domain; Jean was Count d'Orbais, as was his son Godescalc de Noville, lord of Leignon (d. 1255). Godescalc de Noville's son, also named Godescalc, was "patron" of Noville in 1269 and died before 1285. He seems to have been the first to bear the title of lord of Fernelmont. Fernelmont (mont des frênes) means "ash trees' hill". Godescalc de Fernelmont probably built the donjon, which was then surrounded by fences. The last member of the Fernelmont family, Gerard, died after 1362. The later owners of the domain (Longchamps from 1421 to 1537, then Marbais) carried on the building of the castle. The four-arcade gallery was added to the courtyard in 1621. The wings flanking the courtyard, the stables and the barn, were built in the XIXth century. The last inhabitant of the castle was Isabelle d'Harscamp, founder of the home of Namur.

Bierwart is a rural village, whose name is derived from the former domain of Beaurevart (that is Beauregard, lit., "good view", probably referring to the relatively high elevation - 190 m asl - of the village). A castle-farm, in the past the seat of a domain, is still visible near the grand carrefour (big crossroads), where the main roads Namur-Sint-Truind and Brussels-Wavre-Eghezée-Huy cross each other.

Cortil-Wodon is a typical village of Hesbaye, with its houses scattered along small local roads. It was formerly the estate (in the Middle Ages, a courtil was a smaller plot than a manse) of a Frankish lord named Wodon. The farm of Récourt and the village of Wodon belonged in the past to the abbey of Géronsart, in Jambes. The hamlet of Hambraine, owned by Jacques de Woelmont in 1626, has the smallest municipal school in Belgium; the school was closed in 1976.

Forville (formerly Foris villa, "outside the domain") belonged to the Ban of Meeffe, which was an enclave of the Principality of Liège inside the County of Namur. Its court was located in the castle of Seron, locally known as the Count's House. The castle is a beautiful manor built in Renaissance style by Richard de Hemricourt, with a Tuscan gallery. The neoclassical St. Lawrence chapel, located close to the Count's House, keeps the oldest tombstone in the region (1381), belonging to Ystasse de Seron and his wife. The three "tombs" of Seron are indeed three Roman tumuli (height, 6 m; diameter, 25 m), built along a former Roman way; they were excavated in 1854 and the artefacts found there are shown in the Archeology Museum in Namur.
Forville is the birth village of the historian Léopold Génicot (1914-1995), Professor at the Catholic University of Louvain, specialist of the medieval history of Wallonia.

Franc-Warêt was a franc-alleu (free domain) until the beginning of the 16th century, when the lords of Groesbeek bought the castle. The castle was rebuilt in classic style (Louis XV) in the 18th century by Chermanne. The village church, which is the former chapel of the castle, built by Baron de Groesbeek in 1669, the presbytery and the former tithe barn are a protected area since 1955.

Hemptinne is a rural village with several big farms, including the farm of the Ladies d'Aywières, which belonged to the abbey of Aywières. The farm was fortified and has kept a big barn and a watching turret. The domain stretched in the past over 190 ha.

Hingeon is the highest point of Hesbaye and Middle Belgium (220 m asl). In the 17th century, Hingeon belonged to the lords of Ponty, who built the Castle's Farm, the Lime Tree Farm and the Wegge Farm. The abbey of Floreffe also owned a farm in the village.

Marchovelette was named in the past Marche-la-Scovelette or Marche-l'Ecouvelette. In Walloon, a scovelette or écouvelette is a small brush. The castle of Marchovelette belonged to the Gaiffier d'Hestroy family. Baron Gaiffier d'Hestroy, Ambassador of Belgium in Paris and Governor of the Province of Namur, is buried in the village cemetary. The fort of Marchovelette was the most advanced post of the fortified belt of Namur; in spite of the heroism of its defenders, it could not stop the German invaders in 1914 and 1940. The military cemetary of Marchovelette (in fact located in Champion, today part of Namur) keeps the tombs of 600 French and Belgian soldiers killed in the battle of Namur during the First World War.

Noville-les-Bois was a new estate (nova villa) set up after clearing the woods (bois) that covered the region in the 12th-13th centuries. The village was initially called Noville-les-Francs-Hommes. The "free men" from Noville were exempted of tax by Count Jean I de Namur as a reward to their military achievements. The St. Stephen village church depended on the abbey of Salzinnes. The hamlet of Sart-d'Avril also recalls the medieval clearings (sart seems to be specific of Belgium, in France it would be essart or essert).

Pontillas was in the Roman times known as Pontilliacus, "the domain (fundus) owned by citizen (dominus) Pontillis". The cemetary of the village shows a croix d'occis (occire is an ancient French word for "to slay") recalling six villagers killed in 1622 during the Thirty Years' War. The farm of Narmont was the seat of the domain of Noirmont, owned by Charles-Antoine, Count de Harscamp in 1762.

Tillier is an old rural village, known in the 9th century as Les Tuileries (The Tileries). The farm of Jonquoy and the Abbey's Farm, mentioned in the 17th century, belonged to the abbey of Marche-les-Dames.

Source: Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 4 June 2005

Municipal flag of Fernelmont

The municipal flag of Fernelmont is vertically divided red-white (1:2) with a serrated border (six white teeth) between the two fields.
According to Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones [w2v03],, the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 24 August 2000 and confirmed by the Executive of the French Community on 17 July 2003, as Le tiers à la hampe denché de rouge, les deux tiers au large blanc. In French heraldry, denché (name, denchure; from Latin dens, tooth) means serrated.
The flag is a quasi-banner of the municipal arms, which are rotated 90 degrees counterclockwise (in clear, on the arms, the red field is placed in chief). These arms were derived from those bore by the Fernelmont family.

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 4 June 2005