This route takes you in the footsteps of Antoine-Joseph Moneuse, the famous bandit and Captain of the Chauffeurs du Nord.
The municipality of Dour features centrally in any reference to Moneuse’s tumultuous life. Here we will focus on the attack on Joseph-François Delhaye, the coal collector at Belle-Vue coal mine in Élouges.
During this walk, you’ll have the opportunity to browse Cocars wood and explore its chapel, known to have been the bandit’s point of reference. You’ll also have to leave the territory of Hauts-Pays natural park to visit Dour and the village of Élouges through paths, narrow roads and a RAVeL.
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
- 61.5 m
- Points of interest
1 Saint-Martin church, Elouges-centre
The first stone was laid on 10 June 1856 and the new church was blessed on 12 October 1857.
Notre-Dame de Lourdes grotto is on the left of the building.
2 The bailiff Fulgence Stiénon
4 The Chauffeurs du Nord
It is in this context that gangs of bandits prevailed in the region. One of them caused a particular stir: the Chauffeurs du Nord (Northern Heaters). It is said they had the habit of burning the feet of their victims to make them confess where they hid their possessions. Rumour has it that a certain Antoine-Joseph Moneuse was their leader.
6 View point
7 La roulotte théâtrale
In 1986, Roulotte Théâtrale moved to Elouges in the house with a barn that later turned into a theatre called “La Grange” (The Barn).
The company’s purpose is to promote the heritage of its region by propagating shows, story-telling evenings and various events.
As Moneuse is an integral part of this heritage, the Roulotte also dedicated a play to him in 1997.
Contact: 065/65 55 92
8 Moneuse: the play
9 Cocars wood
10 Chapelle Notre-Dame, Cocars
There is practically nothing left of the school, which had a great reputation. The school had 150 to 200 students who came not only from the surroundings but also from Tournai, Lens and Mons. It taught catechesis, reading, arithmetic, the first elements of the Latin language, history, geography, writing and even a hybrid script specific to the school. The hermitage had its own grammar entitled “French grammar for the use of the hermitage of Cocars”.
In 1851 the hermitage school was demolished but it is difficult to say whether its teaching activity stopped at the same time. Cocars’ chapel is the only testament to the hermitage.
It was joined to the parish of Dour in 1837 following a request from the De Royer family (mayor of Dour) to introduce family burials there. It stands out for being on the territory of Elouges while being served by the Saint Victor de Dour alter. The current renaissance style building is rectangular in shape with a semicircle forming the choir. It is built out of brick on stone foundations from an old building. Under the chapel, a crypt shelters the remains of the De Royer family. Vandals have profaned it several times hoping to find gold and jewels. Since then, the crypt has been closed with an iron door. Formerly a mass was celebrated there on the first Monday of Lent and it was moved to 25 March marking the opening of the Ducasse “à figues” (figs) festivities.
This fête even attracted inhabitants from the surrounding villages, and beer flowed in abundance. In recent years, the Ducasse has seen a new event emerge but it now runs on 15 August. A children’s blessing as well as popular games are trying to reinject this local festival with its bygone atmosphere.
11 An unfortunate encounter
12 A mysterious stranger
13 Unanswered questions
14 Safe and sound
15 Former Dour station
Dour station was destroyed in 1980. After the railroad was abandoned, this station was completely forgotten to make room for the construction of a RAVeL. This would be line 98a in reference to the 98a railway line. This RAVeL goes as far as Mons on one side and reaches Quiévrain and Roisin on the other.
16 Dour at the heart of industry
Moneuse also witnessed the rise of coal mines, which proliferated from the mid-18th century in the region.
Coal miners would also pay a heavy price during the mining disasters of 1761, 1777, 1793, 1852, 1865, 1875, 1888 and 1891 in particular.
The landscape is still marked by this dark industrial past. The many slag heaps standing out on the horizon bear witness to this. On your right, you can also see Saint-Antoine slag heap.
17 Belle-Vue site
18 Joseph-François Delhaye
In the photo attached is a copy of a merchandise entry slip dated August 1817 provided by the current owners of the Delhayes’ house, Dr Jacques Dutrieu and Maryse Hallez, 13 rue de Belle-Vue 7370 Dour.
The old man kindly told him the way, and the stranger thanked him before continuing on his way. However, at the end of the road, he went in the opposite direction, to the elderly Delhaye’s surprise.
In the climate of fear at the time, this strange behaviour was a source of alarm once the news spread. So when night came, everyone took care to barricade their doors. The night passed without a hitch, and the next day the stranger was forgotten. Yet for the Delhayes, the worst was yet to come ... See you in front of their house, in the next chapter, to find out more.
Suddenly, a group of men surrounded the Delhayes’ house. They were very soon in the garden. The dog spotted them. Awakened by the barking, the collector’s wife rushed to the window. She saw a torch. She screamed and went to wake her husband and the maid upstairs. During this time, the men broke a window and entered the ground floor.
The spouses were quickly tied up. The maid closed the door of her room and battened down the hatches. Still asleep, the grandfather was dragged out of bed.
The two children were then placed between the couple. The bandits’ leader threatened to burn alive the house’s occupants if they didn’t reveal the location of the house’s keys and their possessions. Frightened, the woman complied. Once the spoils were collected, the men had the audacity to organise a small feast in the kitchen before disappearing.
Attached you’ll find pictures of the house at present as well as the room with the fireplace in front of which the family was threatened. Thank you to the current owners, Dr Jacques Dutrieu and Maryse Hallez, for their involvement.
21 Moneuse, the ideal culprit
According to legend, Moneuse was always seen wearing a lead medal with the words “calixtus pape”. Was this the ultimate proof of Moneuse’s guilt? According to some, Moneuse’s medal was actually found near the chapel of Cocars. Who to believe? It must be said that Judge Harmegnies wanted to get it over with Moneuse. He made this his own responsibility after failing to have him convicted for the Houlette massacre. For now, Moneuse was on the run and an arrest warrant had already been issued against him...
At his trial in 1798, Moneuse would be found guilty of this crime. More than the medal, it was the maid’s testimony which tipped the scales. She allegedly made a description of the attackers that seemed to resemble Moneuse ... The Delhaye couple, meanwhile, could not recognise any of the defendants.
For this case and so many others in which he was accused, the penalty would be capital punishment.
- 62 meters of difference in height