The historical name and nicknames.
The Windmill of Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-Lombeek kept its original name
already 600 years. During last century two nicknames pushed the
original name to the background. The present restoration reinstates
the historical name.
The historical name: Hertboommolen (Hertboom mill)
The original name of the windmill is Hertboommolen. The name refers
to a big open adjacent pastureland. In the levy and tax book of
1391 - the oldest reference regarding this Windmill - one can read:
"1 bunre lant op hertboem byden wintmolen" ( 1 measure
land at hertboem annex to the windmill). It demonstrates the remote
location of the mill, in the open, at the crossing of four roads:
the present Molenkauter (earlier Hertboem!), Windmolenstraat,
Vossenbunderstraat and the present Hertboomstraat.
On the famous De Ferraris-map of the Austrian Netherlands, approx
1775, the mill, the windmill house and stables are well-defined
with the indication: 'Le Moulin Herdt Boom'.
The nicknames: Tragic Mill.
At the beginning of the 20th century the windmill gets a sinister
nickname as a result of a series of indeed tragic incidents. On
New Year's Day 1745, againts the background of the Austrian Succession
War, members of the gang of Jan De Lichte assail the windmill house.
Miller Peeter van Lierde gets murdered. This robbery with murder
remains generations long in the memory of the people, Jan De Lichte
being a legendary figure. During the World War II in 1917 a second
robbery with murder happens, the millers wife and the servant are
boldly slain. Since then the windmill gets in the popular language
its name: "Tragic Mill"; a name that is frequently used
in the literature and in windmill inventories. As a sign of mourning
the storm boards of the mill sails were painted black.
and the Mill of Captain Zeppos
The nickname "Zeppos-Mill" evokes more pleasant memories.
During the sixties most scenes of the classic youthserial Captain
Zeppos were shot in and around the windmill. Captain Zeppos, starred
by Senne Rouffaer, is the
intriguing inhabitant of the windmill farm. Not amazing that the
popularity of the tv-serial contributed to the fame of the mill.
To the younger generations the label "Mill of Captain Zeppos"
is rather insignificant.
Land of square farms and mills. Watermills are plenty in Pajottenland,
different it is for the wooden windmills. From the Middle Ages until
the 20th century countless windmills were the undeniable beacons
in our landscape.
The agrarian past of Pajottenland
Pajottenland is the naming for a part of Vlaams-Brabant, loam region,
south west of Brussels, between the rivers Zenne and Dender. Prettily
slanting Pajottenland has an outspoken agrarian past. From the early
Middle Ages mankind starts deforestation to cultivate fertile land.
Until half the 20th century the region remains a traditional agricultural
Farming and specialy grain crops are the dominating factors. From
the 12th - 13th century the first grain mills are introduced. They
are the essential link for the agricultural industry. After the
bleak war period of the 16th and 17th century, under Maria-Theresia
agriculture revives. Most of the windmills we were built after 1700;
mostly wooden post mills with open foot, alike the windmill of Lombeek.
The square shaped farms of Brabant and the windmills are typical
for the landscape.
At the end of the 19th century the European agriculture gets into
a deep crisis. Massive grain imports out of America and Russia deteriorate
By necessity, in Pajottenland too, a conversion towards cattle breeding
takes place. This conversion speeds up the decline of windmill activity,
started with the Industrial Revolution. In the middle of the 20th
century there are no windmills any more in real operation.
Some sources mention that around 1900 Pajottenland counts about
70 windmills, other speak of about 40. But all of them disappeared.
In the neighboring village Pamel in 1970 the broken Keirekensmill
collapses and in 1971 the Papal Zouave is coldly pulled down.
The Hertboommill as to origin, history and type is a real copy-book-story
windmill in Pajottenland. Only the end is different: the Hertboommill
is to remain in working condition.
700 years of history in a nutshell
A levy and tax book of Pamel dated 1391 provides the oldest written
evidence for the existence of a windmill at the present mill site.
But most probably there was already a windmill before the 14th century.
At least four times this windmill has been re-erected or renewed.
By lack of archives, a lot remains unknown with regard to the evolution
of the mill site until 1655 and also after.
A ban mill belonging to the Sirs of Lombeek and the Sirs of
Supposedly around 1300-1345 the liege lord of Lombeek, Diederik
van Walcourt, builts the first wind mill. The wind rich hill, in
te middle of the fields, is an ideal spot. In 1381 the property
of Lombeek, and with it the windmill, gets into the hands of the
Sirs of Gaasbeek.
Most probably the mill had a statute as ban mill: subjects of the
Sirs were obliged, against payment of course, to have their wheat
milled at the ban mill otherwise they would be penalised. The miller
leases the mill from the liege lord. Property of mills was a feudal
privilege, only lords got the
prerogative to own mills.
Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-Lombeek being a very important medieval place of
pilgrimage enjoyed a flourishing period. The small village got four
mills, one of them a horse powered mill, to meet the big demand
for milling capacity.
Period of crisis: 1655-1723
After a period of decline and inactivity, in 1655, the last owner
of Gaasbeek, Alexander de Renesse, commissions a new windmill. However,
to redeem the huge debts of his tempestuous father, he is compelled
to sell that same year the new mill to the knight Gabriël Le
Febvre, Sir of Tiercelet.
We know further that the new owner commissions only two years later
another windmill, but why? Had the mill in the meantime been destroyed?
In 1689 Jan Dors, public prosecutor of the Council of Brabant,
acquires the mill complex. After noblemen, now patricians of Brussels
succeed each other as mill owners. There was no much luck for Jan
Dors with the windmill. In
1690 troops of the French king Louis XIV burned the mill and farm
Other mills and lots of farms and houses in the area undergo the
same punishment for not paying or for inadequate payment of war
taxes. The Dors family blames the local administration for the losses
and after years of
legal proceedings compensation is obtained in 1721.
In the meantime the mill site is abandoned. As literally written
in the purchase act of 1716, a patrician of Brussels, Egidius De
Mesmaeker, acquires a pile of aged detritus. A new mill will be
The present mill dates back to 1723/1727 (and not 1760?)
The exact year is a difficult matter, but possibly in 1723 and
certainly in 1727 there is a new windmill on this site. A red beam
inscription "P.V.L 1727" should, convincingly, refer to
Peeter Van Lierde becoming miller that year. The reconstruction
of the house of the miller is finished in 1732.
Nowadays it is commonly accepted that the mill of Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-Lombeek
is the windmill built in 1723/1727. Long time, in various books,
1760 was mentioned as the year of birth, based on an inscription
"M.d.M. 1760" in the
stone beam. M.d.M. should refer to Mill of Master de Man, an illustrious
Sir of Lennik who commissioned several mills. But as author Van
Herreweghen and, more recently, Struyf demonstrates, it is rather
premature to conclude that because of this single inscription and
a minor damage by fire with no other documentation, the mill should
have been destroyed and rebuilt in 1760.
As a matter of fact, Carolus de Man will only acquire the windmill
twelve years later, being in 1772. Further research might bring
more light. Certain is, that this windmill, as most of the remaining
post mills of our region, dates back to the 18th century, a golden
time for windmills after years of war, the economy and agriculture
being in full recovery.
Thorough renovation of the millers house in 1784 gives the building
its present outlook. If the mill too underwent changes, remains
an open question, an inscription of 1785 in the nothern dice did
not provide conclusive explanation.
From 1800 to 2000: the windmill survives!
Facts about the windmill during the 19th century are scarce. In
1835 there is Jan-Baptist Van De Velde, for the first time a miller
owning the mill.
From 1859 the mill will belong a century long to the Walraevens
family. The windmill remains in operation until 1940, but as it
is the case with all windmills, it gets inexorably pushed out of
the market as a result of the
industrialisation, the new energy sources and the changing agriculture.
In 1944 the windmill gets the protection as a monument from the
Koninklijke Commissie voor Monumenten en Landschappen, the Royal
Commission for Monuments and Landscapes. From 1954 onwards several
volunteers under the guidance of miller Henri Van Nuffel keep the
mill turning during spring and summer. Spicy detail, the Van Nuffels
in view of a real estate speculation pulled their own windmill,
the Papal Zouave of Pamel, down in 1971, another loss of an historical
monument! Luckily the owners of the windmill of Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-Lombeek,
Rooselaers and Heremans kept carrying out renovation works in 1954,
1970 and 1974.
Happy end: the Hertboommolen remains.
At the public auction in 1999 Jozef Van Waeyenberge purchases the
windmill and farmhouse. A necessary, thorough, not common renovation,
gets implemented in order to make the windmill again operational
and to preserve this valuable heritage of craftmanship for generations
The windmill is not the only remarkable construction in
Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-Lombeek. The rural village has, literally and figuratively
a rich past as place of pilgrimage. Lombeek is to be associated
too with the name Frans van Cauwelaert. And not to forget: the splendid
landscapes around this little village.
Even though remains from the Roman Times were found in the 19th
century, Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-lombeek is located only two kilometers
away from the road Asse-Bagacum, an important connecting road of
Roman Belgium during the early empire, about origin and early history
there is little known.
This settlement - at the creek Lombeek, of which the naming refers
to the Lombards from the Roman Empire - has certainly been established
before 1112, because during that year the abbey of Nijvel (Nivelles)
was already entrusted with the service of the church.
In the middle of the 13th century the Bishop of Kamerrijk (Cambrai),
Nicolas, promoted the church to an independent parish, free from
the capital parish Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-Lennik, to-day Sint-Kwintens-Lennik.
This independency was allocated because the church had become a
famous and well
visited place of pilgrimage. The use of the Dutch language (Flemish)
is documented from 1322.
At about 1300 the village belongs to the Walcourts, Sirs of Aa
and Sirs of Lombeek, to pass in 1381 in the hands of the Sirs of
Gaasbeek. In 1768 it was promoted to baronship. By the way, until
1808 Hieronimus Benedictus Vonck was the Reverend Father, brother
of the famous Vonck of the revolution of Brabant against the Austrian
rule. In 1964 there is the merger of Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-Lombeek with
Strijtem and Pamel to become the new municipality Roosdaal. In 1977
Borchtlombeek too is added to Roosdaal.
The Church: Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-Kerk
The construction of the present early Gothic church of
Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-Lombeek started at around 1265. The chancel stems
from 13th century. The completion of the church with placing the
tower happened in 1315, blest by bishop Guy and assisted by Sir
Jean de Lombeke, who had the castle Rokkenborch built.
Although a rather small village, the church is monumental and richly
decorated with marvellous pieces of art. Thanks to the wealth that
the pelgrims brought to Lombeek. Piece of splendor is the magnificent
fifteenth century Mary altar decoration piece. Unequalled master
piece of wood sculpture of Brussels craftmanship from the early
16th century, of which a plaster copy is kept at the National Art
Patrimonium where lots of church archives are lying for safekeeping,
unfortunately unstudied and almost forgotten. The altar decoration
piece shows the life of mother Mary in nine scenes. Some parts,
on several occasions, were stolen: as a result the church can only
be visited upon appointment.
Other works of art are the grisailles, the paneling, the confessionals,
the calvary statues and an expressive Christ on a Cold Stone. In
the back rococo woodwork and baroque organ. Below the beautiful
pulpit a group of sculpture shows the conversion of Hubertus. Outside
grotesque figureheads decorate the church walls in an unusual way.
Situated in the middle of the village there is the Rokkenborch
castle, with a donjon as housing tower of medieval origin (1336)
built as link of a defence system. The name Rokkenborch is mentioned
in titels of property transfer of the year 1412.
The building, the original residence of the Sirs of Lombeek, was
used in the course of time for many purposes as for example housing
tower, residence, barony, balie, court, farm or school. Extension
works at around 1700 delivered a nicely conserved annex of Flemish
After a period of vacancy during the 19th century conservation
works were carried out and other embellishments with 13th century
from the Thy-le-Château castle. The monumental beech tree
avenue was planted at around 1870. Rokkenborch is not accessibly
for the public and can not be visited.
Opposite the church there is the restaurant De Kroon. The building
dates back to 1760. There are many more buildings from previous
centuries spread over the village.
The figure Frans van Cauwelaert
Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-Lombeek is the native village of Frans and August
van Cauwelaert, famous figures of the Flemish Movement. Their parents
were well-to-do farmers, managing a farm at the banks of the Lombeek
throw from the village square.
August van Cauwelaert (1885-1945) became magistrate, writer and
poet, Frans van Cauwelaert (1880-1961) went different ways: member
of parliament from 1910, mayor of Antwerp and being several times
minister he became the most important Flemish politician during
the pre-war history.
National Convention of Léon Degrelle
The 10th of July 1938 the National Party Convention of Rex took
place in Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-Lombeek. A mass demonstration of extreme
right. According to the organisers 60.000 participants led by and
addressed by Léon Degrelle,
who brought in his backwash thousands of prominent figures and sympathisers
of extreme right from Wallonia to Flanders. A page in the history
of Lombeek that many inhabitants turn quickly.
Supposedly Diederik van Walcourt, Sir of Aa and Lombeek, builts
the first wind mill upon the hill at the Hertboom field.
Together with Lombeek the windmill becomes the property of the
Sirs of Gaasbeek.
The last owner of Gaasbeek, Alexander De Renesse, sells the newly
erected mill to redeem debts of his tempestuous father. For unclear
reasons the new owner, knight Gabriël Le Febvre, builts in
1657 a new windmill.
Jan Dors, public prosecutor of Brussels, acquires the mill. After
noblemen, now patricians of Brussels succeed each other as mill
Troops of the French king Louis XIV burned the mill and farm down.
Other mills and lots of farms and houses in the area undergo the
same punishment for not paying or for inadequate payment of war
Origin of the present mill and farm house. After thirty years in
debris, owner Egidius De Mesmaeker, patrician of Brussel, builts
a new mill and house. The mill is possibly finished in 1723 and
certainly in 1727.
Robbery with murder by members of the gang of the infamous Jan
De Lichte. Miller Peeter Van Lierde is stabbed down. The sinister
deeds of Jan De Lichte remain generation after generation in the
minds of the people.
Has the mill been destroyed and rebuilt with remainig spare parts?
A beam inscription 'M.d.M. 1760' does not give proper evidence.
There is more certitude that 1727 is the year of birth.
On the famous De Ferraris-map of the Austrian Netherlands windmill,
millers house en stables are indicated. Simular as in older archivalia
'le moulin Herdt Boom'.
Thorough renovation of the millers house from 1723-1732 give the
building its present shape.
Jan-Baptist Van De Velde is the first miller-owner. Mill lease
from praticians is over. From 1859 onwards the mill belongs one
century to the Walraevens family.
Worldwar I and again a bloody robbery with murder in the millers
house. Two inhabitants have their throat cut. The mill gets the
nickname "Tragic Mill".
With the Industrial Revolution new machines and energy sources
push the windmills easily out of the market. Mill after mill stops
milling, decays and disappears.
The windmill becomes a monument. The protection followed by renovation
works save the wind giant from destruction.
The by now classic tv-serial Captain Zeppos is shot at and around
the windmill. The mill becoms the "Zeppos-Mill".
Jozef Van Waeyenberge purchases the mill and enroles in a millers
course organized by Levende Molens vzw. (Living mills) A restauration
into detail gets implemented and executed.
Archivalic, bibliographic and estate research of the windmill complex.
Exhaustive pre-study and lay-out of tender specifications by architects
and engineers. Inspection and inventory by Monumentenwacht vzw.
(Monument watch). Consult with the administration of Monuments and
Administrative process of the restoration file.
Dismantlement, stock-taking with calibration, description, photography
Conclusions, rounding off the restoration file, transport of the
mill parts to the workshop of Roland Wieme, repair of the re-usable
mill components in the workshop, reproduction of spare parts, reconstruction
of the foundation.
Set up of the website www.windmolen.be and installation of webcamera's
with direct access to the restoration works at the site via internet
and realization of an inventory of film camera pictures of the reconstuction.
Restoration of the dices, return transport of the windmill components
to the site and rebuilding of the windmill. Finish of the outdoors
1 december 2002
Festive inauguration of the restaured windmill "HERTBOOM"
Literature and References
If you wish to know more about the windmill of Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-Lombeek:
- Jan Struyf, Archivalic, bibliographic and estate research of the
windmillcomplex at Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-Lombeek: Verkenningen. (Exploration)
Heverlee, 1999. This unpublished work is the most extensive and
complete study about construction of the mill; with extensive bibliographic
- Gerard Van Herreweghen, De tragische molen van Lombeek. (The
tragic mill of Lombeek) Davidsfonds Roosdaal; special issue DF-Klokje,
1982. The author exposes the historical context of the robbery with
murder of 1745 by the gang of Jan De Lichte. A concise summery of
the mill history as introduction.
- J.F. Vincx, De molens van 't Payottenland, (The mills of Payottenland)
Merchtem, 1931. Less recent work, but interesting because of the
overview of the many in the meantime disapeared windmills of Pajottenland.
articles were published in Eigen Schoon & De Brabander, volume
13 en 14.
- Several articles in Levende Molens en Molenecho's, magazines
of the Flemish mill associations.
More general information about water- and windmills:
- Paul Bauters, Van zadelsteen tot windkruier. 2000 years of mills
in Flandern, Gent, 1998-2000, 2 volumes. Standard work about history
and technology with regard to mills in our regions.
In Flanders there are several mill associations:
- Centrum voor Molinologie en het Molenmuseum
- Molenzorg vzw
Click here for more info (www.molenechos.org)
- Levende Molens vzw
Click here for more info (http://users.tijd.com/~tdn22793)
- the architects and ingeneers:
Ro Berteloot, architect-moulinoloog
Architectenburo Ro Berteloot B.V.B.A
Sabine Okkerse, Ir.-architect-moulinoloog
Architectenburo Ro Berteloot B.V.B.A
Mr. Dirk Goossenaerts
Mr. Paul Styfhals
Styfhals & Partners
Restoration - mill experts:
Roland Wieme PVBA
Leihoekstraat 71 B
Tel + 32 9 380 84 60
Fax + 32 9 380 44 14
Molenbouw de Jongh
De Witstraat 19
NL 5503 Veldhoven
Tel +31 40 253 27 68
Monumenten en Landschappen
Ministerie van de Vlaamse Gemeenschap
Koning Albert II-laan 20 bus 7
B - 1000 Brussel
Tel +32 2 553 82 11
Fax +32 2 553 82 05
B - 3000 Leuven
Tel +32 16 22 02 01
Fax +32 16 22 68 78
B - 3010 Leuven
Tel +32 16 26 70 70
Fax +32 16 26 70 71
Gemeentebestuur van Roosdaal
B - 1760 Roosdaal - België
Tel +32 54 32 61 61
Fax +32 54 32 90 20
Van Cauteren NV
B - 1700 Dilbeek
Tel +32 2 569 63 74
Fax +32 2 569 73 12
B - 1760 Roosdaal
Tel +32 54 51 87 07
Fax +32 54 51 87 17
Molens Willy Vandenschrieck
TEL 02 396 10 53
FAX 02 396 03 37