Some Old Flemish Towns

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  3. Description
  4. Table of Contents
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  6. References


Author: George Wharton Edwards

Publisher: Moffat Yard & Co., New York

Publish Date: 1911


Number of times Beer is mentioned22
Specific beers/beer types mentionedUitzet – a beer which still exists today brewed by the great Brouwerij Van Steenberge

Specific pubs/inns mentionedPomme d’Or1 in Oudenaarde – not a pub but a hotel and restaurant. It was described as having “a beer pump with a china handle, brass-tipped, ornamenting a counter at the back”. It still exists today and whose menu is the first I have seen including Obuz beer.

Not mentioned by name, but across the street from the Comines train station, he mentions “the inn opposite the station, in the salle a manger (dining room), smelling of stale beer” which he described as a “thorn in the pillow of the explorer”. Comines is a city in Northern France which has Flemish heritage. Looking at Google Maps today, this can only be the destitute looking building below2.

Refers to a “rustic Inn” in Diksmuide which was the “headquarters of the local finch owners” or “vinkeniers” who hold competitions with their birds, a tradition that still exists today in Belgium. I have not been able to track this Inn down yet.

Refers to a “humble inn” located in the Damme Stadhuis where the author had “some beer and cheese.”
Specific breweries mentionedMentions a brewery that existed in the “house near the Templar’s Gate” until 1897 after which it was turned into a post office3. “On the first floor are rectangular openings, pointed windows above and a battlement around the roof and wall with flanking turrets.” Today this is known as the Tempeliershuis.
Drinking Quotes“A good deal of hard drinking goes on, for the Fleming is a drunkard by choice and inclination. It is said that more beer and stronger drink is consumed per capita here than anywhere else in Europe, and nearly every other house in the smaller villages is licensed to sell liquor. The sign ” Hier Verkoopt men Drank ” (which looks like language gone mad) is over the doorways, and here and in the houses marked ” Estaminet,” or ” Herberg ” beer may be had for about a penny a glass.”

“In the evenings these places are noisy with loud talking, for the Fleming is as boisterous now as when Jan Van Steen or Teniers painted him, and his habits since have changed but little.”

“in Flanders, the estaminet, furnishing tobacco and drink for whosoever wills, is found almost at every step, and in some towns there are almost as many drinking places as houses.”

“Talk to-day at the table was mainly upon the subject of Beer of which prodigious quantities are consumed at the table d’hote. I have tasted that of Louvain which is highly esteemed, but there are thirty or forty other sorts of Beers, all more or less bitter to my taste, but none so unpleasant to me as that called Faro, which is thin, pale and sour.”


From the same author as Belgium Old & New, this book was published earlier and before WWI happened, which makes it interesting in that respect. This book is much more of a travelogue than the aforementioned book with a wealth of wonderful anecdotes of day-to-day life in numerous Flemish towns, including some of which exist in France. While the anecdotes are enjoyable and show off the colorful Flemish culture of the day, the author does exhibit a bit of the pompous “we are more civilized” attitude that gives American tourists a bad stereotype today. There is actually a rare Belgian waffle sighting in this book where this comes out. He makes an observation in Mechelen that “children to whom the sight of a real doll is a novelty, and who later on are to sit at the long tables in the estaminets and drink huge mugs of foaming beer like their elders and consume piles of greasy waffles, the smell alone of which is enough to offend the taste of an American.”

Table of Contents

  • Characteristics
  • Oudenaarde
  • Alost – Dendermonde – Commines and Bergues
    • The Song of Bayard
  • Courtrai
  • Ypres
    • Ieper, O Ieper (Song)
  • Dixmude
    • The Vinkeniers
  • Furnes and Nieuport
  • Tournai
  • Douai and Lille
    • Het Toren
  • Bruges and Damme
    • The Lacemakers
    • The Legend of the Lacemakers
    • Song of Bruges
  • Ghent
    • Song of Ghent
    • The Friday Market in Ghent
  • Mechelen
    • The Bells of St. Rombold
    • The Kermesse at Mechelen
  • Louvain
  • The Legend of Margaret the Courageous
  • Conclusion

Where to Download or View

Project GutenbergNot available
Google BooksNot available
Apple BooksNot available
Open LibrarySome Old Flemish TownsRead only
Google Play BooksFree DownloadNot available in Belgium


<1> Google Maps of Pomme d’Or in Oudenaarde

<2> Google Map of the Inn opposite the Comines train station in Comines, France

The “thorn in the pillow” referred to in Some Old Flemish Towns

<3> Google Map of the Tempeliershuis in Ypres

Was almost destroyed in WWI. Still matches the description in the book.


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