How about a stroll through the Nivelles countryside?

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Go on an escapade in the entity’s villages …

By Frédéric Marchesani

The administrative and judicial district capital Nivelles is a municipality in the southwest of Walloon Brabant on the border with Hainaut. It is also the capital of the Roman Païs de Brabant, the French-speaking part of the former Duchy of Brabant, which under the Ancien Régime stretched far beyond our borders to the Dutch cities of Breda and Bois – the Duke. Since the merger of the municipalities in 1977 Nivelles has integrated the villages of Baulers, Bornival, Monstreux and Thines. The heritage of the city of great importance is well known. The Sainte-Gertrude Collegiate Church, which is on the list of exceptional heritage in Wallonia, is one of the jewels of this region. The area still has eighteen monuments and listed sites, a significant number for a city of this size.

The surrounding villages are less known. However, the city is fortunate to be surrounded by greenery, which allows city dwellers to reach nature very quickly once they have passed the suburbs. We then find the Brabant countryside and its traditional farms, its plateau landscapes and its small popular heritage. However, the proximity of the Senne and Dyle Valleys made Nivell’s peri-urban landscape appear relatively uneven. This week we invite you to take a walk in the company’s villages.

Baulers

The village of Baulers lies in the heart of fertile soil made of clay, marl and sand and has always preferred agriculture. Under the Ancien Régime, the village had a seigneury alternating between the chapter of the collegiate church of Nivelles and the Duke of Brabant, which passed into different hands, i.e. those of the Lords of Trazegnies. Almost a suburb of Nivelles to the east, it is the most populous village of the unit and has a multitude of farms, almost all from the 18th century. Three of them, the Abbey Farms, Cochet and Clabois, cover an area of ​​over a hundred acres. The Saint-Rémi church houses a listed organ with its cross screen, the adjacent walls and the vaults of the first bay. It is an instrument that is integrated into a classic construction from 1849.

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Bornival

The village of Bornival, located on the Brabant plateau, was also a Seigneury under the Ancien Régime. Originally called Pourbais, it got its current name in 1315 when the Lord decided to rename his land. The latter saw a one-eyed valley at this point, which is now called a dead end. The activity was mainly agricultural, as there was an ordinary mill and the Croiseau incense. The Seigniorialburg, also called Farm of the Lords or Frankincense of Castia, comes from this distant past. Seriously destroyed in the 18th century, it became a quarry and unfortunately partially disappeared. Today the site has retained its imposing entrance gate, which is flanked by two round towers from the 17th century. Many houses in the village were also built with stones from the old dungeon.

The village is also rich in religious heritage. The parish church, dedicated to Saint Francis of Assisi, is a charming building made of brick, sandstone and blue stone from the 17th and 18th centuries. It preserves remarkable Renaissance-style benches from 1600. Further down the village, the Notre-Dame de Luxembourg chapel from 1767 is worth a detour.

The Lords Farm in Bornival and its impressive entrance gate. © Guy Focant

Outrageous

Monstreux lies in the hollow of the Thines valley and is a village on the Brabant plateau between Senne and Dyle. The activities there are almost mainly agricultural and part of the village is bordered by the Arpes Forest, an old charcoal forest that is classified as a site. The village is grouped around the Saint-Michel church, the work of the prolific architect Emile Coulon. It was built in neoclassical style and renovated in 1985. The visible frame and brick pillars give it a special style: in a sad state of decay, the vaults, ceilings and moldings could not be saved, and the restoration project began. when peeling off the ceilings of the building.

The courtyard of the Abbey in Monstreux and its imposing polygonal courtyard. © Guy Focant

Nearby is the Abbey Farm, a very good example of typical Brabant farms. It was built in the last quarter of the 18th century and then belonged to the Wauthier-Braine Abbey. It has a series of buildings arranged around a polygonal courtyard preceded on the left by an adjacent porte-cochere with a pedestrian entrance.
While walking the paths around the village, you can admire some examples of the small folk heritage. This is particularly true of the Notre-Dame et Saint-Joseph chapel, built in 1750 on the initiative of Marie Clément and Marianne Cornet. This small baroque aedicule made of blue stone is adorned with volutes but has a Gothic base. .

Yours

This fourth and last village owes its name to the river it crosses. The place has been known since the 12th century when the temple brothers, the Templars, settled there. Its headquarters, known as Vaillampont, is one of the region’s most important cultural heritage sites. The charming construction of the village church, dedicated to Saint Marguerite, was built in three steps. The western part of the nave in the late Romanesque style dates from the year 1200. The nave was extended in the late Gothic style at the beginning of the 17th century. The classical style choir dates from 1774. The The sanctuary thus presents a beautiful panel with different architectural styles. To see all the places in the region.

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The Sainte-Marguerite de Thines church, Romanesque, Gothic and Classical building. © Guy Focant

The Vaillampont Commandery

From the distant presence of the Knights Templar in Thines, an extraordinary building remains that has now been converted into a venue. The property was transferred to the Order of Malta in 1312 after the Order of the Temple was abolished. In 1682 the building became the official residence of a commander of this knightly order. At that time there was a castle, a farm, a chapel from the 17th century and a farm on the site. Confiscated by the republican authorities in 1796 after the annexation of our territories
in France it will then be offered for sale. Only the imposing farm building remains of this extraordinary complex. There is a house, a large large barn and several large outbuildings.

Continue the discovery

The Walloon Tourist Office in Brabant offers many activities and walks, including a 117 km route that you can cycle on in the footsteps of the Middle Ages in Brabant Hesbaye. A great opportunity to discover this region, which is gradually adorned with its autumn colors.

Under the Ancien Régime, the Knights Templar and later the Order of Malta had a command in Thines. © Guy Focant