Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck
The beginnings of brewery Van Honsebrouck can be traced to Werken, where Amandus Van Honsebrouck (1811-1865) was mayor and ran a farmstead with dairy farm, brewery and distillery. He was married to Virginie Carbonnez with whom, like a good Catholic, he had no fewer than fourteen children, many of whom were destined to become active in the brewery trade.
For example, one daughter, Mathilde, married Hendrik Facon, a brewer in Ghent and Roeselare, while a son, Hypolyte, would become a managing brewer with Liefmans in Oudenaarde.
However, it was anotherson, Emile (1844-1929), who in 1865 took over the parental brewery at the age of twenty-one following the sudden death of Amandus. He succeeded his father not only as brewer, but also as mayor of Werken until the Liberals came to power in 1878.
In 1876, he married Ludovica Louise De Poorter, daughter of Franciscus, who ran a business in Ingelmunster which traded in cereals, coal and fertilizers. The brewery world was not unfamiliar to her: one of her sisters, Mathilde, and her husband ran Claerhout brewery in that same village. The young couple went to live on the parental farm in Werken. From the start, however, Louise and her mother-in-law did not get along, a situation which was compounded by the burden brought about by the thirteen still underage children.
Louise wanted at all costs to shake off the yoke of mother-in-law. She went to see her brother Fredericus, who was a curate in Vichte, to pour out her troubles. With his help, she set up her own brewery in Deerlijk, which would later become Demeester brewery (closed down in 1955). Her curate brother would bring in the customers. The brewery was not a success, however, because the innkeepers preferred the beer brewed by Lust in Kortrijk (closed down in 1967) or by the brewery in Stasegem. The brewery had no choice but to relocate to Toekomststraat in Kortijk. In 1900, Mr. and Mrs. Honsebrouck-De Poorter eventually purchased a small farm on the outskirts of Ingelmunster, Louise’s native village, and established their brewery there under the name Sint-Jozef.
The first settlement of what is now called Ingelmunster in Flanders was a nun monastery, founded by an English order. Indeed, the waves of invading Germanic tribes, starting at the end of the 4th century and flooding Western Europe, wiped out the Roman civilization and the first seeds of Christianity. Two German tribes, the Anglos and the Saxons, invaded and captured England. However, they didn’t make it into Ireland, Wales and Scotland, which remain three Celtic bastions.
It was Irish monks who brought Christianity back to England and Western Europe, starting in the 6th century. The Irish still claim today, that they saved Christian civilization. Anyway, the English Monastery gave its name to the village that grew around it: “Ingel” comes from English, and “Munster” is an old Flemish word for monastery. Older more romantic legends explained the “Ingel” word as being Flemish for angel, because the nuns sang like angels.
Invading Vikings plundered and destroyed the monastery in the 8th century. The area is abandoned. It is the struggle against the repeat invasions by the Vikings during that century that creates strong Lordships along the European coast and along the rivers penetrating the main land. Such Dukes become the protector of the local populations.
In Flanders, the man who becomes the ruler of the land in the 9th century, is Baldwin the “Iron.” He is a merciless warrior and stops the Viking invasions by abducting and marrying an English Viking queen, who was already twice widowed. She gives birth to many of Baldwin’s children, and start the dynasty of the Dukes of Flanders.
During the 11th century, it is Robrecht de Fries, the reigning Duke of Flanders, who builds a large and sumptuous, stone castle with tall corner towers and surrounded by a broad moat on the lot where we find today the Castle of Ingelmunster. The site is strategically chosen on the crossing of the Mandel River and the one road between Kortrijk (South Flanders) and Bruges (Northwest), two important towns of the Duchy.
The castle holds it's status as an iimportant castle and power center during the next three centuries. It is called the “Key to Flanders.” During the religious wars in the late 16th century between Protestants and the Catholic Spanish army, the castle is ruined. Protestants end up North of what is now the northern border of Belgium. What is now known as Belgium ends up as part of the Spanish empire.
In the 17th century, during a succession of never-ending wars, Flanders becomes a battlefield between the powers of that time: France, Spain, Holland and others, with England opportunistically switching sides at will. The French completely destroy the “Castle of Ingelmunster” in 1695.
In the 18th century, a fortified, luxurious mansion similar to the estate houses in England, think Downton Abbey, and all over Europe is built on the site of the original castle. The moat is kept.
During two centuries, the mansion switches between several noble families, who adapt, maintain and expand the mansion. The two World Wars of the 20th century do not damage the “Castle of Ingelmunster.” The impoverished, last baroness sells the castle to the Van Honsebrouck family in 1986. Lots of work is done to refurbish and resurrect the beautiful structure and the 30 acre park.
Unfortunately, a large fire destroyed part of the castle and much of the interior in 2001. The Van Honsebrouck family has since rebuilt and refurbished the “Castle of Ingelmunster” to
its previous splendor.