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Dessel (Municipality, Province of Antwerp, Belgium)

Last modified: 2017-03-04 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Dessel]

Flag of Dessel - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 25 August 2005

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Presentation of Dessel

The municipality of Dessel (8,865 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 2,703 ha; municipal website) is located in Kempen, 5 km north of Mol and 10 km south of the border with the Netherlands.

The name of Dessel was written Desgele in 1481 and Desschel in 1658. There is no clear explanation on the origin of this name. The early history of Dessel is linked to the history of Balen and Mol since the three villages formed a single domain (voogdij, lit., tutorship) owned by the Benedictine abbey of Corbie (today in Picardy, France). In 1559, the abbey sold the tutorship, which was later ruled by lords, the first of them being Godfried van Bocholtz.
After the French Revolution, the tutorship was abolished and divided into three separate villages. Dessel was already an independent parish after its separation from the parish of Mol in 1271. The municipal autonomy of Dessel was confirmed after the independence of Belgium. A project of municipal merger with the neighbouring town of Retie aborted in the 1970s.

The municipal territory of Dessel is watered by a network of old canals. Lock 4 Dessel-Witgoor is unique in Europe because it is the junction of three canals, the canal of Kempen and its two diverticulums, the canals Dessel-Turnhout (north) and Dessel-Kwaadmechelen (south).
The opening of these canals is the origin of the extraction of white sand in Dessel and Mol. Around 1850, a boatman from Mechelen, shipping sand from Zeebrugge to a glass factory near Liège, noticed the white sand on the banks of the canal near Dessel. The sand was of better quality ("more" white) than the sand he had onboard. The boatman took a sample of the sand, which was proven to be of the best quality and later exported all over the world. Sand extraction had significant consequences for the landscape, leading to big ponds used as extraction places and later as nature reserves and recreational areas.

The Holy Family church (Heilige Familiekerk), designed in 1934 by architect Stan Leurs, is one of the earliest examples of modern church building in Belgium.

Ivan Sache, 25 August 2005

Flag of Dessel

The Flag of Dessel is black with a yellow engrailed saltire.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel [w2v02], the flag, adopted on 19 November 1979 by the Municipal Council, is prescribed by a Decree adopted on 6 June 1989 by the Executive of Flanders and published on 8 November 1989 in the Belgian official gazette.

The flag is a banner of the municipal arms, which were first approved in 1965. These arms belonged to Alexander-Balthazar Roelants, lord of Dessel in 1666.
The greater arms of Dessel are flanked by a lion and a griffin, while St. Peter holding two keys stands behind them. All the ornaments are in gold.
The Roelants' arms are also the basis of the municipal banner of arms of Wijnegem.

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 2 January 2008