Hilvarenbeek (NB): St. Petrus Banden
A quick look at the the church of Hilvarenbeek immediately
makes clear that this isn't a simple village church. In ca. 1150 a chapter was founded in
Hilvarenbeek, which made the village an important centre of religious life. A previous
church was replaced in the 14th century. The current church is the result of many
changes to that one.
The nave still largely dates from the 14th century while the choir dates from the first half of
the 15th century. The transept is slightly younger, but was heightened between 1520 and
1527. For the walls of the choir and the northern transept-arm tuff was used as well as
brick. The northern side-aisle was added in the 15th century and heightened in 1557,
after which shares its roof with the nave. The southern side-aisle probably dates from
the first quarter of the 16th century. Unlike the northern side-aisle this one is as heigh
and wide as the nave.
The tower is one of the prettiest examples of Campine Gothicism (see Gothicism). It was
built in ca. 1450, after fire had destroyed its predecessor. The new tower was built
several metres to the west, thus allowing for the nave to be lenthened with one trave.
The distinctive spire was added between 1615 and 1621, after the old one had been struck
The Eighty Years-War made an end to Hilvarenbeek's golden age. The renewal of the spire
was made during the Twelve Years-truce (1609-1621), but by 1636 Hilvarenbeek had fallen in
the hands of the protestants, who banned the catholic faith and took the big church for
their own use in 1642. Four canons of the Hilvarenbeek chapter founded a new church near
Rovert (now in Belgium), just over the border on territory that remained
catholic, where they held services for the people from their former village. In 1671 a hidden church could be opened in Hilvarenbeek itself.
In 1799 the St. Petrus was finally given back to the catholics. After repairs the church
could be used again in 1801.