Many times you find yourself with some spare time or in need of a day trip, with nothing planned and no idea what to do. That’s why we created our series “Detour”. Sights that deserve mentioning, but not enough for a journey of their own. Roeselare District Detour, offers you a few more sights to explore. Did we miss something? Let us know.
Roeselare District Detour
*Church of Saint Jacob the Superior
Saint Jacob the Superior Church was first mentioned in 1197 and is still active with baptisms. The baptismal font (fonts are sculpted from a single massive block) is made from Tournai blue stone.
Felix Callewaert started the accordion factory in Zwevezele, but moved it to Lichtervelde in 1890. The new location was closer to the railroad and was more convenient to get the raw materials to the factory. The factory got demolished during WWI. After the war, Eugene, Felix’ son, rebuilt it. During WW2, he and other people from Lichtervelde joined the Resistance. In 1942, he and others in the Resistance were caught and sent to the concentration camps of Esterwegen and later Wolfenbüttel. He and the others (15 in total) were beheaded in 1944.
The “Callewaert” or “Lichterveldsen” (one from Lichtervelde) got really famous in the music scene. The U.S. and Canada imported the accordions. Some accordions are on display in the city hall.
*The Keizer (Emperor) Theater
The only cinema left in Belgium from the pioneer days, the history of The Emperor started in 1924. Gerard Debaillie bought the Emperor mansion just before his marriage to Marie-Louise Ramboer. He installed his film projector (against the priests’ recommendations) in the upper room of the cafe. Because Lichtervelde had no electricity, it generated electricity with a generator in the courtyard.
Gerard showed Don Juan (1926), as his first film. Before he bought the mansion, Debaillie would advertise around and show silent films in parish halls or in the open air. Lichtervelde was hooked up to electricity in 1929. During the late thirties Gerard began to show Saturday films. Gerard Debaillie visits Brussels, signing contracts and attending live gala performances, and bought movies at Martyrs’ Square. He returned to Lichtervelde with Flemish titles such as “Under the red carpet” or “the gay divorcee” with Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire.
In Brussels he met with his daughter Agnes, Sophia Loren and Shirley Temple. In the late sixties he fell ill and died in 1972. Agnes continued his work (unlike her 4 brothers). Agnes was so dedicated to the Keizer Theater, during the floods of 2005; she eluded the fire department twice as they evacuated her from the thigh high water.
Two wealthy brothers built the castles. The property also included out buildings. You can book the castles for special occasions and meetings. Wolvenhof is the largest park; it includes several hiking trails and a beautiful double pond. The Wolvenhof Castle originated in 1913. Wallemotestraat Castle also from (1913) has a playground.
*Vangroenweghe Family Joinery Museum
Pierre Vangroenweghe comes from a family of carpenters. When he retired, he and his wife decided to build a museum. Over the years they gathered a wealth of unique pieces and tools. The collection goes back to the seventeenth century. Pierre is a very enthusiastic storyteller, keeping visitors entertained. You must make an appointment for a tour.
*Golden Chapel Ave Maria
The convent and school of the Sisters of Mary, integrated the chapel. It was founded in the early nineteenth century. The chapel has barrel vault on it. The architecture is very simple, but the emphasis is on the rich decoration with paint and sculpture. The style is late neo-classicism with Renaissance and Baroque elements. The organ, (which is now unplayable), is a wonderful instrument of Mercklin-Schützer from Brussels. The pipes came from Paris. There is another chapel on the floor, the silver chapel. The name comes from the silver hearts on the wall.
The park also features a foot path. It leads to 14 stations-the mysteries of the rosary (events of Christ’s life). The park contains an open air chapel and sculptures. It is 4.3 km for the longer walk, and 1.15 km for the shorter walk which only encompasses 7 stations.
*The Spanish Chapel
It has a Mediterranean influence and baroque style, built in the 1800’s. WWI devastated the Spanish Chapel. It was rebuilt and is now included in the longer walk.