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Heel (L): H. Stephanus Vinding (C. Franssen 1900-1906)

Like many churches in Limburg the medieval church of Heel became too small for its community in the late 19th century. At first, only the old choir was demolished and replaced by a new choir and transept. But ultimately, also the nave had to go. Only the tower remains of the old church. The rest was replaced by the current three-aisled neo-Gothic cruciform basilican church.
Such total replacements of old churches are not rare. In fact, there are very few churches left that were untouched. Yet, the church of Heel is perhaps one of the most satisfying of these rebuilts. While most neo-Gothic churches that were built between 1850 and 1914 were constructed out of brick, this is one of only three churches that were built during this period in Limburg where marl was used instead. Marl is a natural stone from nearby quarries, that had been used in church architecture in this part of the country for many centuries. The use of this stone gives this church an authentic look that many of its contemporary churches lack; those churches simply do not look as if they were designed for this part of the country. Architect Caspar Franssen did not voluntarily use this material though, but was forced to do so by the provincial governor, who acted on the advice of influential architect P.J.H. Cuypers and Victor de Stuers, who at that time was the national expert on historic buildings and their restoration. It was the only time Franssen used marl to such a large degree.
The architect took some of his inspiration from the regional Maasland Gothic style (see Gothicism). Especially the Stiftskerk in nearby Thorn seems to have been an influence. Similarities are the shape of the buttresses, the windows and the decorative traceries in the tops of the transepts' gables.
At the end of World War Two the church was badly damaged. In 1948-1949 the damage was repaired by architect P. Cuypers jr..








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