This route takes you in the footsteps of Antoine-Joseph Moneuse, the famous bandit and Captain of the Chauffeurs du Nord.
You’ll go back to the figure’s origins, from his childhood in Saint-Vaast up to his arrival in our region.
This will also be an opportunity to talk about the mills. Indeed, himself a miller’s son, Moneuse lived at a time when mills dotted our rural landscapes. Along the way, you’ll find some remnants of them but others have unfortunately completely disappeared. So you’ll sometimes have to close your eyes and use your imagination.
Have a good walk and watch out... bandits are about.
Route created and put together by Hauts Pays natural park
Illustrations Claude Renard
- Difference in height
- 59.58 m
- Points of interest
1 Place d'Audregnies
2 Antoine-Joseph Moneuse: the origins
3 Foyer Notre Dame de Paix – former boarding school and convent of the Bernardine Ladies
The origins of the building date back to 1904, the year in which a community of French Bernardine Ladies settled there and ran a girls’ boarding school there, Pensionnat Saint Bernard, until 1942.
After the expulsions of religious congregations from France, the Bernardine Religious Ladies of Esquermes-Lez-Lille came to take refuge in Audregnies. They took possession of the old Leroy farm whose house was not sufficient to host the many students who accompanied them. The Bernardine Ladies wanted to continue the work of providing a religious education to girls, as this was one of their congregation’s goals.
Therefore, major expansion work was required, in which many workers from the Hauts-Pays region participated.
In October 1903, the Bernardine Ladies settled in a temporary chapel until the end of the construction of the new building.
On 21 March 1904, the foundation stone of the future Pensionnat Saint Bernard was laid in the presence of Canon Margerin, Chaplain of the Bernardine Ladies, the Dean of Dour, Abbot Soudan, Curate of Audregnies, Mr Raymong Glineur, Mayor of Audregnies, and several notable persons of the parish. The work ended on 14 May 1905.
In this new building equipped with all the modern comforts of the time, the Bernardine Ladies could accommodate 60 to 80 girls of the French bourgeoisie and aristocracy, in order to provide them with a religious education.
In the right season, the long procession of young uniformed boarders could be seen crossing the village.
In 1914, the Bernardines set up part of the boarding school in a military hospital to treat the 180 wounded of the battle of Audregnies.
In 1925, they founded a public library open on Sundays. The Bernardine Ladies (after whom Chemin des Nonettes would be named) left Audregnies in 1940, and were replaced in 1942 by the Salesian Sisters of Don Bosco.
The boarding school welcomed some young girls from Audregnies, but also children from towns in the region sent by Winter Aid.
In 1945, a lay community of nurses came from Flanders, in order to provide home-based care.
In 1953, Bishop Himmer of Tournai, concerned about the situation of old people in the Mons-Borinage region, expressed the wish for an old people’s home to open in the existing building, following initiatives seen in Protestant communities.
Thus in Audregnies on 13 February 1954, non-profit association Foyer Notre Dame de Paix was founded, whose articles of association would be published in the Belgian official journal (Moniteur Belge) on 27 March 1954. Its purpose was: the creation of homes for old people and elderly households and any activities relating to charity services (article 2 of the articles of association).
The contacts established in 1953 by the Bishopric of Tournai, in particular by Bishop Joos Vicar General, with the Bishopric of Zagreb (Croatia) led to the signing of an agreement on 14 May 1954 whereby the Congregation of Sœurs Servantes de l'Enfant Jésus provided ten members of its community to the non-profit association, which had to provide them with free accommodation, fire, food and whatever might be necessary but excluding any monetary remuneration. This latter clause was also a condition for granting residence permits to Croatian nuns. On the other hand, the non-profit association granted the congregation use of the home (yet) to be created.
On 16 July 1954, lands and buildings belonging to the community of Bernardine Sisters were the subject of a promise of sale to the non-profit association for a sum of three million Belgian francs, payable over 10 years, with 4% interest charged per annum. Many efforts had to be employed to collect the funds necessary for the development works. Appeals were made for donations, collections were organised in every church in the district, the deanery of Dour’s input was requested, etc.
What courage it took the founders to undertake such a venture!
On 7 September 1956, six nuns arrived in Brussels, and were joined by three others in February 1963.
The first boarder was welcomed on 17 December 1956... Something big could begin!
4 The end of innocence
23 June 1779 would scar him for life. As he crossed the meadows towards Bavay to get to school, Moneuse saw something in a field of wheat. He approached and appeared to make out the silhouette of a sleeping man. This man was actually his father. Moneuse quickly realise he wasn’t asleep. Bathing in his own blood, he laid dead.
5 Chapelle Sainte-Thérèse de l'enfant Jésus
It was here that Moneuse experienced his first dealings with the justice – or rather injustice – system. It would not be the last...
7 Martin chicory mill
Horse mills made it possible to overcome the vagaries of the wind and therefore complement their big brothers, windmills. The horse turns outside the building and activates the two wheels with a beam that protrudes from the top of the roof.
8 Audregnies mill or Glineur mill
It belonged to the count of Baillencourt. In 1766, Joseph, count of Baillencourt, lord of Audregnies, deputy of the State, noble of Hainaut, provost of the cities and royal provost of Mons, held the exclusive right to produce flour for the neighbouring villages at his Audregnies mill.
From 1220, the monastery of Trinité d’Audregnies receives an income of one hundred and twenty rasières (old capacitance measurement worth about 1/2 hectolitres) of grains from the mill. The millers of Audregnies and Athis who held the abovementioned exclusive right in Montignies went there every day to take the inhabitants’ “monnées” (quantity of grain issued to millers) with their horses which had bells to alert them, without costing the inhabitants anything other than the milled wheat used.
In 1723, thirteen tenants of Audregnies signed a statement disputing their lord’s claim compelling them to use his mill.
Obtained by François Demarez in 1811.
Confirmed in 1739 by Vander Maelen.
The mill is located in the centre of the village, almost opposite the church. It is powered by the Petite Honnelle which, to reach the height required to set a mill wheel in motion, follows a bypass that has gradually become the main channel in the river. An embankment holds in this bypass on the same side as the (genuine) flood plain, where a thin trickle of water still flows. The mill is positioned at the end of the bypass, on the valley bottom, which obviously facilitated the installation of the wheel while also shaping the waterfall. This spatial arrangement is very close to that observed at Hautrage water mill.
A water management system cuts through the stream around the mill.
The building is built on a rather elongated rectangular level. Its northern cog rests against the stream. Covered with a tiled roof featuring large rumps, it is sited on very uneven terrain. In this way, its height evolves from one level (drip wall on the upstream side) to a development covering almost two levels on the opposite side (downstream side).
The great height of Audregnies mill’s spillway is a feature that particularly marks it out. This spillway supports a massif in its centre consisting of beautiful bedrocks of carefully paired stones. Upstream, this massif ends in bevelled formation.
Installed on the left side of the spillway, the mill is bordered by a space that leans against the embankment and disappears in the bottom of the flood plain. The mill’s courtyard is extended by a large courtyard that has the characteristics of a large farm whose mill is just one component.
The year of manufacture 1823 is engraved on the lintel of the building door. This year of manufacture appears consistent with the entire building being constructed all at once. A west gable chimney confirms the fact that the left side of the building served as a main building for the miller and the right side as the mill in the strict sense of the word.
A. HAVEZ & Gérard BAVAY
Archives générales du royaume à Bruxelles, carton 763 (1766)
Verriest, “Le régime seigneurial dans le comté de Hainaut, p. 282 (“Greffes des justices échev. et seigneuriales”)
A. Havez, “Mémoires en Haut-Pays - Moulins sans frontière 1095 - 1995, p. 116-117, ill.
Jules Dewert, “Les moulins du Hainaut. Arrondissement de Mons”, Annales du Cercle d'histoire et d'archéologie de Baudour, t. 4, 1939, p. 1-202;
Jacques Vandewattyne, “Inventaire des moulins du Hainaut. Arrondissement de Charleroi - Arrondissement de Mons - Arrondissement de Soignies”, Hainaut-Tourisme, n° 118, July 1966, p. 139-144
“Moulins en Hainaut”, Brussels, Crédit Communal, 1987 G. Bavay (coord.), “Patrimoine et histoire des moulins en Hainaut - Inventaire descriptif”, Analectes d'histoire du Hainaut, tome XI, Mons, Hannonia, 2008, p. 305-306, ill. “Moulins en Hainaut”, Mons, Hannonia / Bruxelles, Crédit Communal, 1987.
9 A turbulent teenager
Moneuse would soon be dealing with policemen. At 15 and a half, he was accused of theft but he was never found guilty. The following year, he was investigated for stabbing a boy who’d insulted him. At 17, he was accused of theft again but the merchant didn’t recognise him.
In 1788, Moneuse took the decision to leave the region.
10 Moustache mill
This street leads through extensive countryside towards the village of Thulin and the flood plain of Haine. Located on the immediate outskirts of the small village, it is positioned at the top of the slope overlooking the valley of the Petite Honnelle.
An inscription reads: “je fus bâti en 1795 par F.G.J. Dupont” (I was built in 1795 by F.G.J.Dupont), verified in 1834.
Severely deteriorated as early as 1883, the Moustache mill was decommissioned in 1891.
In 1927 came a brick tower covered with tiles. The wings have disappeared.
The Moustache mill belongs to the category of frustoconical masonry mills, in this case bricks. Its diameter at the base reaches 6 metres. It can be accessed via a curved arc door. The floor is lit by three windows - two semicircular arches and one a low arch - probably the result of an alteration.
The mill has lost its rotating cap, its wings and all its internal machinery. To overcome the disappearance of the roof, the upper part of the masonry has been levelled in an oblique plane. A rudimentary blanket of asbestos corrugated iron is used to protect the construction.
A. HAVEZ & Gérard BAVAY
17 February 2015
11 Tordoir mill
It had disappeared by 1810.
A. Havez, “Mémoire en Haut-Pays. Moulins sans frontière, 1095-1995”, Onnezies, 1995, p.119. Jules Dewert, “Les moulins du Hainaut. Arrondissement de Mons”, in: Annales du Cercle d’histoire et d’archéologie de Baudour”, t.4, 1939, p. 1-202 (p. 196-197). G. Bavay (coord.), “Patrimoine et histoire des moulins en Hainaut – Inventaire descriptif”, Analectes d’histoire du Hainaut, tome XI, Mons, Hannonia, 2008, p. 304-305. “Moulins en Hainaut”, Mons, Hannonia / Brussels, Crédit Communal, 1987.
12 A troubled period
13 Moneuse back in town
Moneuse established himself as a grain and livestock trader.
14 The attack of Léon Lagroux (Rieu-Marion)
One day in February 1794, a certain Léon Lagroux, a horse dealer in Hornu, left the estaminet of Audregnies when he was the victim of an attack. Here is the statement he made to the investigators:
“Near the Rieu-Marion, a man hidden in the ditch jumped to the bridles of my horse while two others made me fall. Despite the terrible pain felt in my leg, I began to defend myself with the nerf de bœuf (an old-fashioned type of truncheon) I always wear on my wrist. I heard a groan and a cry after hitting one of the attackers about the stomach: ‘Mendeck, help!’ Almost immediately a horseman came out of the coppice and struck me with the pommel of his sword. Before I fell unconscious, I heard him command: ‘A few more blows of the club, and then bring me his girdle.’ My girdle! It contained 5,000 gold francs. And then my horse disappeared. I’m pressing charges against this Mendeck!”
The rumour then spread that Mendeck and Moneuse were in fact one and the same person, the leader of a gang of bandits named the Chauffeurs du Nord. It is said they had the habit of burning the feet of their victims to make them confess where they hid their possessions.
15 Mendeck = Moneuse?
16 Planches mill
Property of François Dupont in 1845.
Demolished after 1870.
By chance or as a nod to the past, a bakery was opened near this place.
Littérature A. Havez, “Mémoire en Haut-Pays - Moulins sans frontière, 1095-1995”, p. 116-117, ill. Jules Dewert, ”Les moulins du Hainaut. Arrondissement de Mons”, Annales du Cercle d’histoire et d’archéologie de Baudour”, t.4, 1939, p. 1-202 (p. 196-197). G. Bavay (coord.), “Patrimoine et histoire des moulins en Hainaut – Inventaire descriptif”, Analectes d’histoire du Hainaut, tome XI, Mons, Hannonia, 2008”, p. 304. “Moulins en Hainaut”, Mons, Hannonia / Brussels, Crédit Communal, 1987.
- 60 meters of difference in height
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