Picture: centre of Den Hoorn with Saint-Ritachurch
» Hollandline (bunkers)
On the crossroad of the Damweg and the road to Lapscheure, there used to be a windmill, called the Hoornmill. It was first used in 1562 and broken down in 1920. There used to be another, older mill in the village, name the mill of Houtewerve.
Around 1900, a tramway was constructed between Bruges and Aardenburg. This tram mainly served for the transport of beets and coal. There used to be a station in the village on the place where now the church stands. In 1943, the tram was replaced by a bus.
At the end of the Second World War, both parties fiercely battled in the canal area of the Schipdonk- and Leopoldcanal. German troops, on this side of the canals, reused the bunkers that were built here during the First World War and set up heavy artillery on several farms in the area. Most of these bunkers have been demolished after the war, but still there are some that remain [see Hollandline]. In the final weeks of the war, the village was heavily shelled by allied ground-artillery (operation Colorado). In 1944, the bridges over the canals were blown up, so that the hamlet Den Hoorn was cut off from the parish church in Moerkerke. The villagers had to go to the school for their prays.
A first emergency church was built in 1946, it consisted mainly out of material that was left behind by the German occupator. In 1947, Den Hoorn becomes an independent parish, with Saint-Rita as patron saint. A second temperary church was built in 1960. The construction of the present church commenced in 1975, consecrated by the bishop of Bruges in 1977. This church was built by voluntary villagers, under guidance of their priest, Mr. Ackaert. The show-off-piece of the church is without any doubt the madonna (not the singer!!) statue, brought from Poland by the priest, Mr. Ackaert. Nowadays, the church is a well-known pilgrimage place. Each year, the church wellcomes thousands of pilgrims.
Den Hoorn is a peaceful country village, but not so lang ago, some villagers had a dangerous aditional revenue: smuggling. The village lies close to the Dutch border, which made it an ideal base for this clandestine trade. The smuggled goods varied from butter to living cows. They didn't have a lack of creativity, the smugglers. Animals were transported in the trunks of cars, calfs were even dressed up and disguised with a large hat and put in the front of the car to mislead the border patrols. This "trade" was certainly nothing for the fearful. The police was authorized to shoot smugglers if necessary, several were emprisoned for their actions. This activity reached its peak in the 50's and 60's of the last century. One of the most interesting cycling routes of the region is called "de Smokkelroute" (the smuggling route).
Agriculture has always been the main source of revenue here, outside the village center there are still some old farms. In the village itself you can see some beautiful typical workers houses.
© Hendrik De Leyn - www.damme-online.com