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Wommelgem (Municipality, Province of Antwerp, Belgium)

Last modified: 2011-11-12 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Wommelgem]

Municipal flag of Wommelgem - Image by Jarig Bakker, 5 October 2001

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Presentation of Wommelgem

The municipality of Wommelgem (12,117 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 1,301 ha) is located just south-east of the town of Antwerp.

Wommelgem is the place of Fort 2, a part of the defensive belt built by General Brialmont around Antwerp at the end of the 19th century. The belt was a 15-km long defensive wall with 15 neo-baroque gates, defended by eight polygonal fortresses, located more or less every 2 km. A ninth fort was built subequently on the heights of Merksem. Due to the evolution of military technology, the project became quickly obsolete and new fortresses had to be built, even further from the town of Antwerp. Nearly nothing has remained from the original project. However, the nine forts have been kept more or less intact, except Fort 1, suppressed for the rectification of the road to Turnhout.
In spite of its obsolescence, Fort 2 reminded a military domain until 1975; it was purchased by the municipality of Wommelgem on 23 November 1977.

Ivan Sache, 3 January 2008

Municipal flag of Wommelgem

The municipal flag of Wommelgem is yellow with three blue boar's heads.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel [w2v02a], the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 21 March 1989, confirmed by the Execuive of Flanders on 6 June 1989 and published in the Belgian official gazette on 8 November 1989.
The flag is a banner of the former municipal arms.

The municipal arms of Wommelgem are an heraldist's nightmare, the problem being with the colour of the boar's heads, blue or proper. According to Servais [svm55a], the arms with the blue boar's heads were granted by Royal Decree on 11 February 1840. According to Van evers en heiligen. Wapens en vlaggen van de gemeenten in de provincie Antwerpen [pbd98], the colour of the boar's heads was changed to proper on 8 February 1994: the head is black, the tongue red, the tusks white and the eye white with a black pupil. The flag, which had been adopted earlier, does not seem to have been corrected either.

The municipal website gives the chapter of the book De aloude heerlijkheid Wommelgem by Jos Goolenaerts dedicated to the municipal arms of Wommelgem. The book was published in 1989, when the boar's heads were still depicted in blue on the arms.
In 1337, the municipal council of Wommelgem used a seal with three fleurs-de-lis, borrowed to the neighbouring municipality of Immerseel. In 1840, the municipality was granted arms that had belonged to the family of de Neuf, Simon de Neuf being lord of Wommelgem and Immerseel in 1776. The de Neuf family bore "Or three boar's heads azure 2 + 1". The colour of the boar's heads on the de Neuf arms is, however, controversial, so is the use of blue boar's heads on the arms of Wommelgem. The boar's heads could also be black, and even the heraldic litterature is quite confusing on that point.
Servais writes that Wommelgem was transferred in 1776 to Simon de Neuf, whose ancestor Simon had married Jacqueline van Eversdijck and had been ennobled in 1693, with the permission to bear his wife's family arms, a golden shield with three boar's heads. The colour of the canting charges (in Dutch, ever means "a boar") is not given explicitely by Servais, who further writes: "The Municipal Council subequently used golden arms with three boar's heads azure, those from the de Neuf family, which had been granted to the Municipal Council by Royal Decree on 11 February 1840." Servais refers to Vegiano's Nobiliaire des Pays-Bas, et du comté de Bourgogne, whose 1868 edition says: "Simon de Neuf married Jacqueline van Eversdijck. Simone de Neuf was ennobled on 20 March 1693 with the arms of his wife, who was the last heir of her family. The arms are "Or three boar's heads proper". Image #1526 of the armorial attached to the book shown the arms of van Eversdijck but the boar's heads are left blank; in the same armorial, the arms of de Neuf are shown with black boar's heads.
Rietstap's Armorial Général describes the arms of de Neuf as "Or three boar's heads proper"; in the Armorial Général Illustré, by Victor and Henri Rolland, appended to Rietstap's descriptions, the boar's heads are shown in black on both the arms of van Eversdijck and de Neuf. The description also states that the crest's mantel is golden and black, the colours of the mantel being often taken from the shield of the arms. Baron Rijckman de Betz' Armorial Général de la Noblesse Belge describes the arms of de Neuf with boar's heads proper and crest's mantel or and sable.
There are other images of the de Neuf arms that support the black colour for the boar's heads on the arms. The church of Burcht keeps a tombstone of the de Neuf family, on which the boar's heads are represented with black hatching. On a porcelain dish owned by Pierre Agie de Selsaeten, the boar's heads on the de Neuf arms are also black. Finally, the last evidence for the black boar's heads is a zielmispenning of Simon Jozef Karel de Neuf, the last lord of Wommelgem, owned by the local history circle De Kaeck. A zielmispenning was a coin minted specially for the funeral of a noble and distributed to the poors of the village; after the ceremony, the coin could be swapped for bread, therefore its other name of broodpenning. Made of yellow brass, the coin of the lord of Wommelgem shows on the obverse the arms of the defunct, with crest and crest's mantel. The boar's heads have black hatchings, including the boar issuing from the crest's crown.
Why the municipal arms of Wommelgem were designed with blue boar's heads is still unknown.

Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 3 January 2008