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Estaimpuis (Municipality, Province of Hainaut, Belgium)


Last modified: 2019-07-30 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Estaimpuis]

Municipal flag of Estaimpuis - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 6 June 2005

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Presentation of Estaimpuis and its villages

The municipality of Estaimpuis (in Dutch, Steenput; 9,781 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 3,176 ha) is located in the west of Hainaut, between Tournai and Mouscron, on the border with France. The municipality of Estaimpuis is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Estaimpuis (2,557 inh., 318 ha), Bailleul (559 inh., 415 ha), Estaimbourg (1,289 inh., 400 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).

Estaimpuis was probably named after 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 Espierre was built in 1884 between Marcq-en-Barœul, a few kilometers north of Lille and Spiere; it allows communication between the basins of the Scheldt and of the 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.

Bailleul is a rural village dating at least back to the XIIth century. The parish church, dedicated to St. Amand, the 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 was plundered 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.

Evregnies is known for the Romanesque St. Vaast 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 remaining example 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, Bailiff 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 hid 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 preferred to withdraw. The runaways disappeared in the foggy valley of Scheldt and nobody has ever heard from them since 13 October 1307.
There is today in Saint-Léger a pumping station supplying the water towers of West Flanders.


Ivan Sache, 6 June 2005

Municipal flag of Estaimpuis

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, as Jaune à la croix rouge cantonnée de quatre lions rouges, les griffes et la langue bleues.

The flag is a banner of the second quarter of the municipal arms, which are described in the Armorial of Hainaut, available on the Heraldus website, as follows:
Écartelé, au I de sable au chevron d'or, chargé de trois fleurs de lys d'azur, accompagné en chef de deux têtes de lion arrachées et affrontées d'or, lampassées de gueules, et en pointe d'une tête de léopard d'or tenant en sa gueule un anneau de sable (della Faille); au II d'or à la croix de gueules cantonnée de quatre lionceaux du même, armés et lampassés d'azur (Estaimpuis); au III de sable à deux quintefeuilles d'argent, une en chef et une en pointe, le franc canton d'or chargé d'un double roc de gueules (Maes); au IV d'or à la fasce bretessée et contre-bretessée de sable (Schoyte); sur le tout, d'argent à la croix de gueules (Nevele).
"Quarterly, 1. Sable a chevron or three fleurs de lis azure in chief two lion's heads erased and affronty or langued gules in base a leopard's head or holding in the mouth an annulet sable (della Faille); 2. Or a cross gules cantonned with four lioncels of the same armed and langued azure (Estaimpuis); 3. Sable two cinquefoils argent one in chief and one in base a canton or charged with a double rock gules (Maes); 4. Or a fess embattled and counter embattled sable (Schoyte); overall an escutcheon argent a cross gules (Nevele).
The Gelre Armorial shows "Argent a cross gules" for Nevele (Mortagne) (He. v. Nevele, #993, folio 82r). The municipality of Nevele, in Flanders, uses a flag very similar to the flag of Estaimpuis, the only difference being the lioncels, which are plain red on the flag of Nevele. Servais gives the origin of the red cross as granted by the Count of Flanders to the crusader Wouter of Nevele in the XIIth century.

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 1 July 2007