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Steenvoorde (Municipality, Nord, France)

Last modified: 2014-10-25 by ivan sache
Keywords: nord | steenvoorde |
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[Flag of Steenvoorde]

Flag of Steenvoorde - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 10 November 2004

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Presentation of Steenvoorde

The municipality of Steenvoorde (4,071 inhabitants in 2011; 2,982 ha; municipal website) is located on the border with Belgium. Dutch, in its local dialect called flamand (Flemish), is still spoken there by a sizeable proportion of the inhabitants.
Steenvoorde means in Dutch "a gravelled ford", which recalls the ford by which the Roman way from Cassel crossed the river Ey Becque (becque is the local name of a brook, beek in Dutch). There was there a priory depending on the Templar's commandery of Eecke, now a village located 6 km south of Steenvoorde, and an hospital founded by the local lord in the beginning of the 15th century.

Steenvoorde was famous in the past for the production of woollen cloth. Today, one of the biggest dairies in France is located there, as well as a vaccine production plant owned by Institut Pasteur. The detection kit currently used to detect BSE (mad cow's disease) is produced in this plant.
Steenvorde has kept three windmills, the Steenmeulen, made of bricks, and the Drievenmeulen and the Noordmolen, made of wood, and some of the last hops fields in France. There is a Hop Festival in October, and the Saint-Sylvestre brewery, located in the neighbouring village of Saint-Sylvestre-Cappel, produces the renown beers Bière des Templiers and Bière des Trois Monts. The three "mounts" are Mont Cassel (176 m, the highest point of French Flanders), Mont des Cats (Catsberg, 158 m) and Mont Noir (151 m). Steenvorde has also a traditional candy called babbelaer.
The traditional giant of Steenvoorde is Yan den Houtkapper (John the Woodcutter), who made everlasting shoes for Charlemagne. The Emperor awarded him a breast-plate still worn by Yan during festivals.

Ivan Sache, 10 November 2004

Flag of Steenvoorde

The flag of Steenvoorde, hoisted on the Town Hall along with the flags of France and Flanders, is vertically divided white-blue-white with the municipal coat of arms in the middle.

[Coat of arms of Steenvoorde]

Coat of arms of Steenvorde - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 10 November 2004

The coat of arms of Steenvorde is "Per pale barry of eight or and azure overall on the two bars in chief three annulets gules and quarterly first and fourth three pallets couped and a bordure conjoined all engrailed second and third barry of ten argent and azure a lion rampant sable.

According to the municipal website, these arms belonged to Eustache-Pantaléon de la Viefville, Lord of Steenvoorde in 1614, husband of Lady Claudine de Mérode. The dexter part of the shield represents the family of La Viefville, whereas the sinister part of the shield represents the family of Mérode.
Brian Timms says that Leuridan* (1909) ascribed to the municipality the arms of La Fiefville, marquis in 1711, which now form the dexter part of the shield. Beforehand, the arms of the domain were those of the second and third quarters of the sinister part of the shield, but with the lion gules and not sable. The orle and the pallets might have been the arms of a branch of the family of La Fiefville.

The representation of the arms on the flag is not completely accurate:
- the crown is shown in a white cartouche;
- the annulets are not red (gules) but yellow with vertical hatching.
Therefore, it is probable that the flag was made after a black and white drawing of the coat of arms. All the flags seen in Steenvoorde are identical.

*Théodore Leuridan (1860-1933) was archivist at the Cambrai Diocese, canon of the Lille Diocese and librarian at the Catholic Faculties of Lille. Member of several local scholar societies, he presided the Société d'émulation de Roubaix and the Société d'études de la province de Cambrai. The website of the Société d'émulation de Roubaix includes a list of 118 publications credited to Leuridan, most of them dealing with the feudal local history.

Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 10 November 2004