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Mheer (L): St. Lambertus (P.J.H. Cuypers, 1876-1881)

The highest point of the village, just in front of the impressive local castle, is the location of the St. Lambertus of Mheer. This location marks the bond between church and the local noble family De Loë.  Until the early 17th century Mheer belonged to the parish of Noorbeek. Then, in c. 1626, a first church was built in the village. In 1787 that church was replaced by another one, which lasted even shorter. Already by 1865 the church had become too small and was in a bad state, and plans were made for a new church. Architect C. Weber would have been the obvious choice for the assignment. In 1864 he had designed the De Loë family tomb, the small neo-Gothic chapel built out of marl that stands next to the church. However, the local priest wanted a church similar to the St. Martinus in Maastricht and the church of Pey, which both were designed by P.J.H. Cuypers. Cuypers made his first design for Mheer in 1870, but work was stalled until 1876  because the people of the village of Banholt, which was part of the Mheer parish, demanded that the new church would be built closer to their village. Eventually Banholt would get its own church and the church of Mheer was built in front of the castle after all.
Cuypers' original 1870 design was for a three-aisled church. This church was meant to be oriented, as usual in that time, which meant the tower would point to the west, to the castle, while the choir would face the public road at the east side. Due to the split of the parish, this design was deemed to large. In 1876 Cuypers made a second plan, a sober neo-Gothic church with a one-aisled nave and undeep transept-arms, which was accepted. Although the location made orientation of the church possible, the idea was now abandoned, possibly for esthetic reasons. The choir now points to the west and the tower to the east. In the corners between choir and transept are additional spaces; a sacristy on the southside and on the north side a secondary sacristy and  the private chapel of the De Loë family.







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