Discovery of Court-Saint-Étienne
Situated between Wavre and Nivelles, 35 km from Brussels, Court-Saint-Étienne is nestled in the heart of the Province of Walloon Brabant. With a population of 9,950 inhabitants, the municipality extends over a territory of nearly 2,700 hectares, a third of which is wooded. Several villages with evocative names add to its rural nature: Sart-Messire-Guillaume, Beaurieux, Tangissart, La Roche, Faux and Limauge.
Court-Saint-Étienne is a green, hilly municipality, bathed by the Dyle, the Thyle and the Orne. It has a dense network of tracks and footpaths offering attractive walks. It is easily accessed, as the area is well served in terms of the road network by the RN 25, connecting the E19 and E411 motorways, and by the railway and coach networks.
Traditionally agricultural, the municipality was to remain so until the middle of the 19th century. But after 1847, the heart of the area became industrialized and under the impetus of the engineer Emile Henricot, the metalworking factories experienced a remarkable boom and will be known by his name.
Following their decline and closure in 1984, the municipality has undertaken a revitalisation policy for the centre through the redeployment of the industrial sites for housing, businesses, SMEs and various community premises. At this time, the watercourses, which had previously been sealed over by the factories have been uncovered.
Testimonials of the centre’s village past
To discover the old Court-St-Étienne, we would invite you to take the steep, winding path, bordered by large rounded paving stones, up the Rue du Village. On a promontory, it brings together a series of venerable neo-classical style houses. It leads to the Ceulemans mill and its ponds that flow into the Thyle. At the top of the rue du Village, the main entrance to the Château Goblet d’Alviella lies alongside the Saint-Étienne church which was rebuilt at the end of the 17th century imitating Baroque style; in it we can admire in particular the Triptych of the Passion dating from the 16th century.
Going up the hill opposite the church, passing halfway up the imposing Wayside Cross, we enter the cemetery that contains a Hindu-style monument: the Mausoleum of the Goblet d’Alviella family. Standing twelve meters high, it was constructed in around 1886 for the count Eugène. He had the Mausoleum carved with ideograms symbolizing the human quest for eternal life, and the inscription: « L’Être unique a plus d’un nom » (The unique Being has more than one name). Below the chateau, curiosity leads us to the Rue de la Taverne, a small district formed of buildings painted in yellow ochre followed by the Hall Nr. 11 of the former factories.
Testimonials of its industrial past
At the lower end of the place des Déportés, the Hall Nr. 11 is representative of the golden age of iron architecture as created by Gustave Eiffel. At the other end stands the pink granite pedestal of the Émile Henricot monument topped with a bronze representing a skilled worker demonstrating his know-how to an apprentice.
We then return to the SNCB Railway Station, whose English garden-city style offers a fine example of a rural station. Cross the level crossing. Standing alongside the former Factory Surgery is the Community Hall. Its façade with its regular lines provides access to the party room which was created in 1913 on the initiative of the Henricot family. Following the railway line, we observe the Caretaker’s house at the main entrance to the Factory nr. 2 and then the imposing Art Deco building that housed the Large Offices. Next to these is the Scrap metal yard, a majestic 3,000 m2 hall, which is now destined for major events of a cultural or factual nature.
Going up the rue de Wisterzée, we discover the Wisterzée Park and the ex-Palace of the Governor whose imposing size stands out above the beautiful, rare species of trees
As a starting point for the magnificent walks through woods and fields, let’s go to the village of Sart-Messire-Guillaume and its small square in which we find the Ferme de Sart adjoining the top of a meadow. This chateau-farm was built on the foundations of a stately manor. Standing on a mound surrounded by well-spaced pines, the Chapelle de Sart juts into the square. Built in the 16th century in the Gothic style with ogival arches, it was carefully restored in 1986. Cross the cultivated plain of the Sart countryside to reach the Tree of Justice. Indicated on maps since the 18th century, the site now contains a fine group of young linden trees. Beyond the tall antennas areas is the Ferme du Sartage, a great square formation of buildings whose dovecote porch contains a water storage tank. On the opposite side stands the alley of lindens that leads to the majestic Ferme du Chenoy and its typical porch tower dating from 1830.
Going down the valley of the Orne, the Ferme de Beaurieux, at the foot of the village, dates from 1721. It stands around an irregular sided courtyard with brick and stone constructions. Not far away are the Beaurieux Mill and the Ferme de la Vallée. To the South of the entity, the hamlets of La Roche and Tangissart are both formed of a group of old schist houses along a steeply inclined road leading up to wooded hilltops. Finally head off towards discovery, at the most northern part of the municipality, to Limauge and the Chapelle aux Sabots. Constructed in 1774, young girls began to regularly hang a clog there in order to attract the favors of Our Lady of the Graces on their new loves.