Local Heart, Global Soul

October 10, 2017

A Monastery Where The Devil Is In The Detail…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Continuing our visit to Meersel-Dreef, the information board describing the buildings history was so long that I have broken it up into two parts: posted yesterday and today.

The board was only in Dutch so I’ve translated it here: “The French revolution: When the French revolution spilled over into this area, the State taxed all religious goods.

In early 1797 the monks were driven out of the monastery. After the Belgium independence was proclaimed, Trappist monks from Westmalle started to use the monastery on 3rd May 1838.

About 30 years later the Kapucijnen monks returned and spiritual life in Meersel-Dreef returned. The Maria Park and the Lourdes grotto date back from 1895. Foundation of the “Valley of Mercy of Our lady of Lourdes”.

After the Maria appearance in Lourdes in 1858 and the renewed interest in pilgrimages, Meersel-Dreef was also given it’s ‘Valley of Mercy’.

Father Jan Baptist, Provincial of Belgium left on a mission to the Punjab in English India in 1895. On the way his ship came into a big storm during which he promised to make a grotto for Our Lady of Lourdes so that he would reach shore safely. He managed to arrive safely so he decided to stand by his promise. In June 1896 he laid the first stone for the Lourdes grotto at Meersel-Dreef in the garden opposite the monastery.

The watermill. In general it is thought that the watermill if Meersel-Dreef already existed in the 14 century, evidenced from a document which describes the renting of the mill “Meerselmolen’ and the farm de Eyssel from Jan IV Van Cuyck, Lord of Hoogstraten.

Like all mills in the duchy of Hoogstraten, the mill of Meersel was a “banmolen” (which means) a mill owned by the feudal lords where the locals where obliged to mill their grains (and pay for the privilege).

The mill was rented out early in the 17 century, and a canal was dug to bypass the mill allowing boats to sail further up the canal. At the beginning of the 20th century the mill burnt down (again) so in 1911 the mill was restored and modernised. This grinding installation is still operational. Opposite the mill is the mill house which was built in 1894. The old mill store house, next to the house, is still used as a house today.’

Try as we might, and with our short walk around just part of the buildings, we found it hard to pinpoint exactly where the mill now is. There was an abundance of outbuildings, some of them possibly dwellings but if one of them was the millhouse, or just part of the buildings and monastery from the Kapucijnen monks, we could not tell.

That said, there was probably a lot more possible to explore but we of course stayed where our hosts lead rather than branching out separately on our own. The Meersel-Dreef buildings continued to delight and as usual I was interested in not just the complex as a whole but also the details. For instance, I love that one window that has diamond shaped panes, opens with nine of the diamonds near the center opening out as one small window. It proves that function and practicality need not ruin the beautiful design, you just work with it and get a quirky diamond-shaped window! Brilliant!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)


  1. very nice shots of the detail

    Comment by Maureen Sudlow — October 10, 2017 @ 2:17 am | Reply

    • Maureen,
      Thank You! I love finding quirky things like the diamond opening window.

      Comment by kiwidutch — October 10, 2017 @ 9:11 pm | Reply

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