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Laarne (Municipality, Province of East Flanders, Belgium)

Last modified: 2019-06-25 by ivan sache
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Municipal flag of Laarne - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 16 September 2006

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Presentation of Laarne

The municipality of Laarne (11,768 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 3,203 ha; municipal website) is located 10 km east of Ghent. The municipality of Laarne was established in 1976 as the merger of the former municipalities of Laarne (6,358 inh.; 1,568 ha) and Kalken (5,457 inh.; 1,635 ha).

Laarne was known in the Middle Ages as Laren (1040), Lara (1120) and Larne (1213). Those names are probably related to the Germanic word hlaeri, meaning "a wooded marshy land". The domain of Laarne successively belonged to the families Schoutheete, Van Vilsteren and others, and was eventually transferred to the Counts of Ribeaucourt. The former town hall of Laarne was built in 1767 by Baron Theodore van Vilsteren, lord of Laarne, in Classic style with some rococco elements. A brand new town hall was inaugurated in February 2000.
The feudal castle of Laarne (description) was built by Dirk van Massemen around 1200. The current curtain walls and towers date back to the 14th century. Around 1500 the castle was so damaged by several sieges that there was need for restorations. The family van Vlisteren become owner of the castle in the 17th century and they made important alterations. Maria-Theresa van Vilsteren married Count van Ribeaucourt in 1745. One of his descendents gave the castle in 1952 to the Royal Society of Historical Buildings of Belgium. Chairman Joseph de Ghellinck d'Elseghem started immediately with the restoration of the castle. The main attraction inside the castle is the impressive silverware collection of Claude d'Allemagne.
The inhabitants of Laarne are nicknamed messentrekkers (those who quickly rely on their knife) or ganzendrijvers (geese' guardians). The local beer, brewed by Walrave is called Pick-Up; another local beverage is dotsken, made with gin and lemon.

Kalken was known in the Middle Ages as Calkine (1170 and 1213), Kalkine (1380 and 1405), Calckene, Calcken, Kalkene, and, eventually, Kalken. The domain of Kalken belonged to the lords of Dendermonde. By marriage, it was transferred in the 15th century to the Vilain, who kept it until the French Revolution. The village also hosted two independent domains, the domains of Raveschoot and Nieuwe Gaver; the latter domain was the residence of the family Van Calcken.
The inhabitants of Kalken are nicknamed unkerzakken (whatever it means, this seems to be very very local!). The local beer is called Unkerzak.

In 1921, the new municipality of Beervelde was formed, taking 383 ha from Laarne and 410 ha from Kalken. Beervelde was incorporated in 1976 to the municipality of Lochristi.

Ivan Sache, 16 September 2006

Flag of Laarne

The municipal flag of Laarne is yellow with a black border and a red lion in the middle.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel [w2v02], the flag, adopted on 14 May 1985 by the Municipal Council, is prescribed by a Decree issued on 1 July 1985 by the Executive of Flanders and published on 8 June 1986 in the Belgian official gazette.
The flag is a banner of the municipal arms, "Or a bordure sable a lion gules. The shield surmounted by a Baron's crown from the Austrian Netherlands and supported by two lions or."
The Baron's crown makes its possible that the municipal arms were those of the Baron van Vilsteren.

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 16 September 2006