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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.

The Region


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 area.

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.

Inevitable decline

At the end of the 19th century the European agriculture gets into a deep crisis. Massive grain imports out of America and Russia deteriorate prices.
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.

The History

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 Gaasbeek: 1300-1655

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 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 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 erected.

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 to come.

The Village


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.

Other buildings

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 renaissance.

After a period of vacancy during the 19th century conservation works were carried out and other embellishments with 13th century windows recuperated
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 a stone
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.

Time Schedule


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 owners.


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 taxes.


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 Landscapes.
Administrative process of the restoration file.


Dismantlement, stock-taking with calibration, description, photography and video.


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 and entrance.

1 december 2002

Festive inauguration of the restaured windmill "HERTBOOM" of ONZE-LIEVE-VROUW-LOMBEEK.

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 reference list.

- 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. The original
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
Kerkstraat 3
B-2890 Sint-Amands

- Molenzorg vzw
Bruggestraat 74
B-8830 Hooglede
Tel.: 051/20.37.78
Click here for more info (www.molenechos.org)

- Levende Molens vzw
Grootveldstraat 12
B-1652 Alsemberg
Tel.: 02/380.24.09
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
Kasteellaan 89
B-9000 GENT
E-mail: arch.berteloot@tijd.com

Sabine Okkerse, Ir.-architect-moulinoloog
Architectenburo Ro Berteloot B.V.B.A
Kasteellaan 89
B-9000 GENT
E-mail: arch.berteloot@tijd.com

Mr. Dirk Goossenaerts
Algemeen Directeur
Styfhals Ingenieursbureau
Hansenslaan 7
B-1800 Vilvoorde
Tel +3222559900
Fax +3222559955
E-mail: styfhals@pophost.eunet.be

Mr. Paul Styfhals
Styfhals & Partners
Hansenslaan 7
B-1800 Vilvoorde
Tel +3222559900
Fax +3222559955
E-mail: styfhals@pophost.eunet.be

Restoration - mill experts:

Roland Wieme PVBA
Leihoekstraat 71 B
B-9870 Machelen-Zulte
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
E-mail: nowa.vlaanderen@skynet.be
Website: www.monument.vlaanderen.be

Monumentenwacht Vlaams-Brabant
Mechelsevest 108
B - 3000 Leuven
Tel +32 16 22 02 01
Fax +32 16 22 68 78
E-mail: aml@lin.vlaanderen.be
Website: www.monument.vlaanderen.be

Provincie Vlaams-Brabant
Diestsesteenweg 47
B - 3010 Leuven
Tel +32 16 26 70 70
Fax +32 16 26 70 71

Gemeentebestuur van Roosdaal
Brusselstrat 15
B - 1760 Roosdaal - België
Tel +32 54 32 61 61
Fax +32 54 32 90 20
E-mail: info@roosdaal.vera.be


KBC Verzekeringen
Van Cauteren NV
Ninoofsesteenweg 121
B - 1700 Dilbeek
Tel +32 2 569 63 74
Fax +32 2 569 73 12
E-mail: Eric.Van.Cauteren@abb.be


Cofic N.V.
Molenkauter 9
B - 1760 Roosdaal
Tel +32 54 51 87 07
Fax +32 54 51 87 17
E-mail: cofic.nv@telenet.be
Website: www.windmolen.be


Molens Willy Vandenschrieck
Barakkenberg 14
1540 Herfelingen
TEL 02 396 10 53
FAX 02 396 03 37

Technical Data

Function, type and power.

The Hertboommill is a wooden post- or standardmill with open foot. It functions as a corn mill.

The corn mill in the agrarian Pajottenland (Pajottenland is the name of the region where the windmill is located.)

Like most of the mills in Pajottenland alike the majority of the mills in general, the Hertboommill is a corn or wheat mill serving to grind grain.
Logic, still in 1866 cereal crops covered one third of the total surface of land of Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-Lombeek.

Since the Middle Ages corn mills were the vital link of the agricultural industry. The demand for milling capacity was big; bread being the main staple product.

Mills are not always corn mills. The propulsive force of the revolving movement has been used for many applications. There are oil mills, polder mills for land reclamation to clear the water from polders or swamps, sawmills, paper mills, …

The post mill: simplicity and power

It is an historical myth that the crusaders would have brought home the vertical windmills from the East. More over, the oldest known references and illustrations indicate that this type of mill is of Flemish origin. In all respects certain: around 1100 the post mill turns up in our region. The ingenious and elegant post mill is soon the most spread out windmill type.

The principle of the post mill is uncomplicated, the construction a daring and careful calculated balance of forces. The post or standard is the central vertical axis allowing the whole mill to be moved 360°. In this way the sails are turned to face the wind from whichever direction it blows.

More into detail: the timber-framed structure that revolves about the head of a vertical post is constructed upon a horizontal traverse beam, the stone beam. The timber frame and post (together about thirty metric ton) are kept
upright by the mill foot. The post itself does not touch the ground! Eight oblique firm beams carry the weight towards horizontal cross beams. These cross beams rest on four brick blocs: the dices.

To move the windmill to face the wind, the miller uses a winch or spool located at the bottom of the stairs, which are attached at the tail beam of the windmill. Once turned to the good wind direction, the miller can put the canvas on the sail bars to use more wind power.

The white dices of regional sandstone, the dual attic, the wooden roofing and the slates at the sail side provide to the windmill of Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-Lombeek its own recognisability and beauty.

Green but whimsical wind energy.

A post mill can be turned to each wind direction, but this is not enough to guarantee its proper functioning. The wind catch can not be hindered; hindered wind swirls. The more freely and the more steady the wind reaches the sails, the better the milled product. Reason why windmills are mostly
built outside the village in the open, on a natural hill or upon an artificial mill dam. Trees around were cut and mostly there was no house in the neighborhood.

The farmhouse at Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-Lombeek is an exception. Apart from that this mill is out-of-the-way, in the middle of the fields, on a for the region rather high spot, with plenty of wind. The hill is 85 meters high or 40 meters higher than the threshold of the church entrance.

Visitors / Museum

During the ongoing restoration works the public does not have any access to the Windmill Site of Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-Lombeek. Visitors can watch the restauration works from the street or monitor the works via internet through this website.

The Opening of the Windmill is scheduled for December 2002.

Photo Album
  Look at the pictures in the differends topics.

During the ongoing restoration new pictures will be added to this webpage.

You are kindly invited to monitor regularly the progress made during the re-erection of the Windmill.

  As from 15 April 2002 the original Windmill of Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-Lombeek will be re-erected. Via this website you are directly connected: 4 webcam's allow direct and permanent monitoring of the ongoing restoration works.

In case you are interested to see the start of the reconstruction, kindly fill out your e-mail address here. Click here.

We shall keep you posted.

  If you have a remark or question, do not hesitate to contact us.
  Kindly let us have your comments on this page of our Guestbook.

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