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Ichtegem (Municipality, Province of West Flanders, Belgium)

Last modified: 2021-06-19 by ivan sache
Keywords: ichtegem |
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Flag of Ichtegem - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 19 July 2005

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Presentation of Ichtegem

The municipality of Ichtegem (13,493 inhabitants on 2007; 4,534 ha) is located 15 km north-east of Diksmuide, 20 km south-east of Ostend and 15 km south-west of Bruges. The municipality of Ichtegem was established in 1975 as the merger of the former municipalities of Ichtegem (5,706 inh.; 2,232 ha), Bekegem (1,071 inh.; 466 ha) and Eernegem (6,567 inh.).

Ichtegem is located in a hilly region called Vlaamse Ardennen (the Flemish Ardennes) and has very strong links with the national Flemish sport, cyclism.
The cyclist race Omloop Vlaamse Ardennen (Circuit of the Flemish Ardennes) was ran every year in Ichtegem from 1945 to 2001, except in 1970, when it was cancelled because of the snow. It was originally a Belgian affair, with famous winners as Eric de Vlaeminck (1969), Patrick Sercu (1974, 1975) and Johan Museeuw (1995).
In 2006, Ichtegem was confered the title of Dorp van de Ronde 2006 (Village of the Tour 2006) for the 90th Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders). The Tour starts from Bruges and arrives in Ninove after having crossed the most beautiful Flemish villages. Since 2000, the organizers of the race select every year a "Village of the Tour". Ichtegem title was confered under the patronage of the legendary "Flandrian" Jules van Hevel, from Ichtegem, winner of the Tour in 1920 and five times in the top five. Ichtegem is also the village of Karel van Wijnendaele, the founder of the Tour of Flanders and of Richard Depoorter, who died in the village of Wassen during the Tour of Switzerland in 1948. Ichtegem has a cyclist brass band called De Zwaluw (The Swallow).

The oldest mention of Bekegem (website) dates back to 1107, when Bishop of Tournai Baldericus ceded the church of Bichengem to the St. Amand abbey in Elnone (today, Saint-Amand-les-Eaux, in the north of France). In 1227, the church was transfered to the St. Bertinus abbey in Saint-Omer. The biggest farm (14 ha) in Bekegem was built in 1713 by Jacob Gheestecooren. In 1814, Bekegem had 347 inhabitants and 62 houses. In 1827, the King of the Netherlands planned to merge the municipalities of Bekegem and Roksem. This never happened because of the 1830 Revolution. In 1846, Bekegem had 597 inhabitants and four cafés. The industrial revolution started in Bekegem in 1869, when miller Callemeyn powered the Watervalle mill with a stem engine. In 1886, Bekegem had 866 inhabitants and 18 cafés (ratio 1:48!). On 21 April 1895, Mayor August Monteyne proclaimed new municipal laws, for example forbidding to make a fire in a distance less than 100 meters of a building. In 1902, Bekegem had 1,022 inhabitants. The number of pubs was not recorded. Unfortunately, a blaze destroyed the Het Vaderland café on 9 August 1903, killing two.

Ivan Sache, 19 July 2005

Flag of Ichtegem

The flag of Ichtegem is blue with three white disks placed 2 + 1 and a red shield with a chevron ermine between the disks.
The flag, adopted on 13 September 1984 by the Municipal Council, is prescribed by a Royal Decree issued on 1 July 1985 and published on 8 July 1986 in the Belgian official gazette.
The flag is a banner of the municipal arms.
[Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel [w2v02a]]

The arms of Ichtegem before the municipal fusion, granted by (Dutch) Royal Decree on 10 November 1819 and confirmed by (Belgian) Royal Decree on 31 August 1838, were "Azure three bezants a letter I or in canton". Eernegem used similar arms but with the letter "E" instead of "I", adopted as the same dates as for Ichtegem.
Koekelare used similar arms but with the letter "K", granted by (Belgian) Royal Decree in 1818 and confirmed by (Dutch) Royal Decree on 11 May 1840. Since there was no colours mentioned in the first grant application, the (then) national Dutch colours were granted "by default", and not changed after the independence of Belgium, as it was the case for several Belgian municipal arms azure and or. All these arms are based on the arms of the lords of Koekelare (with three bezants). The letters are used to differentiate the three former villages of the domain of Koekelare.
[Wapenboek van de Provinciën en Gemeenten van België [svm55a]]

However, the Gelre Armorial shows the arms of the lords of Koekelare ("Kokelar", #972, folio 81v) "Cokelare" as "Gules three bezants argent". The arms of Koekelare adopted after the municipal reform, "Azure three bezants argent", belonged to Walter IV van Koekelare, who went on the Crusade in 1252, therefore the bezants, which are said to represent coins minted by the Byzantine Emperor.
On the flag and new arms of Ichtegem, the bezants (yellow discs) of the original arms were changed to white discs.
The shield in the center of the flag is nearly identical to the municipal arms of Gistel, a town located 10 km north-east of Ichtegem.

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 31 July 2007

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