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Koewacht (Z): St. Philippus en Jacobus (W. te Riele, 1920-1922)

Koewacht is one of several villages divided in a Belgian and a Dutch part, the border dating back to the end of the Eighty Years War.  When as a result of that war the catholic church was outlawed in most of the territory at the control of the Dutch Republic, several border chapels and churches were founded in catholic territories just across the border. One such chapel was built in the Spanish part of Koewacht and eventually became a parish church.

Even when Belgium ceded itself from the Netherlands in 1830 and Koewacht was divided in two parts once again, it formed one single parish of the Breda diocese until 1914. In that year much of Belgium was occupied by the Germans and the border was closed with an electric fence which, in the case of Koewacht, ran through the village.

Already in December 1914 plans had been made for a seperate church on Dutch soil. An unknown architect took measurements and apparently made a design, but plans were possibly halted by concessions on behalf of the Germans. For a short period the catholics from the Dutch part of the village continued to use the church on Belgian soil, seperately from the Belgians, but in February 1916 the gate in the fence was closed permanently.

Soon a wooden temporary church was built on the Dutch side of the border in 1916. Although the electric fence was dismantled in late 1918, the split in the parish had become permanent and plans were made to replace the wooden church by a new one.

Architect W. te Riele was commissioned in 1920 to design the new church. Construction began in February the next year and in May 1922 the church was consecrated.

It's a three-aisled building in neo-Gothic style with wide and tall side-aisles and a wide central aisle. Each trave of the side-aisles has a pointed gable and three tall windows. East of the nave is the polygonal choir, which is lower and narrower than the central aisle. In the corner between the choir and the northern side-aisle is a tower. In 1924, Te Riele used the same configuration for the St. Gertrudis in Utrecht. 






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