Alem (G): St. Hubertus (A. van Veggel, 1872-1874)
Until 1958 Alem belonged to the province of
Noord-Brabant, but already in the 1930ís the creation of a shortcut in the River
Maas had left it on the North side of the river, cut off from the rest of the
province. In the Middle Ages the village had a collegiate church which also
served the parish. This church, which came in protestant hands in 1648, was
destroyed by a flood in 1716 or 1717. It was replaced by a small protestant
church while the catholics used a barn church. In 1757 permission was given for
a new church, which probably still looked very much like a barn.
In 1871 a new priest arrived in Alem, who soon decided to replace the old church.
A new church was designed by A. van Veggel. This architect was born in Alem and
probably still had some connections in the village. By that time, his career was
practically over; his previous church had been built in the late 1850ís and from
the 1860ís no works at all are known. Since he died in 1876, the church of Alem
was probably his very last.
Compared to other churches from this period, the St. Hubertus is in an out-dated
early Neo-Gothic style, complete with plaster vaults. But while its architecture
still shows little evidence of knowledge of true Gothic construction, the church
is largely devoid of the decorative shapes that were so typical of early
It has a one-aisled nave that ends in a narrow transept which itself is followed
by a narrower polygonal choir. Remarkably, the apse has large pointed niches, no
The church survided the Second World War, unlike much of the village and many
other churches in the region, although it was badly damaged. A German attempt to
blow up the tower was prevented just in time by British troops. However, in 1962
the upper part of the tower was demolished because of a supposed danger that it
would come down. The resulting gap in the facade was filled and an open wooden
steeple was put on the roof. In 1997-1998 this wooden tower, which had started
to rot, was removed and the original tower was reconstructed.