Westkapelle

 

Westkapelle (Zeeuws: Wasijzenel) is a village, with historical status as a city, in the municipality of Veere on the western tip of the former island of Walcheren. It is therefore in the Dutch province of Zeeland. Westkapelle had 2,615 inhabitants on January 1, 2020.

 

History

Westkapelle may have been founded in the time of the Vikings. The settlement was granted city rights in 1223 but had no seat in the States of Zeeland, which is why it was called a narrow town. The city lived mainly from fishing (herring). In 1400 a storm flood swept away the Western Cape, ending the prosperity of Westkapelle. At that time the construction of the Westkapelse Zeedijk was started. In 1454 the city was sold to Heer Hendrik van Veere. Emperor Charles V visited the town in 1540. Until 1996 Westkapelle was an independent municipality. A remnant of the time that Westkapelle was a narrow city is the annual fair with accompanying militia de Gaaischieters.

WWII
On 3 October 1944, the seawall on the south side of the village was destroyed by British bombers (this event is still simply called 't Bombardement in Westkapelle), with the intention of flooding Walcheren in order to remove the island from the German occupier to free. 180 inhabitants of the town were killed in this bombing; the place itself was virtually wiped off the map by the bombs and the gushing seawater. The Allied troops landed on November 1, 1944 with landing craft to the north and south of the resulting dike hole. At the time of the landing, six people were still in the village, the rest of the survivors had been evacuated to the surrounding villages. More than a year later, the gap was closed on 12 October 1945. A still visible remnant of the Second World War is the creek that was created by the bombing. Because of the salty seepage water, under the dike, the water is brackish instead of fresh. For more information about this and the other bombardments of the dikes on Walcheren, see: Inundation of Walcheren.

As a reminder of this war, but certainly also of the liberation, there is an M4A4 Sherman tank on the dike. Behind the lighthouse "High light" are, in a semicircle, the graves of the war victims.

Historical sites
Westkapelle is known for its lighthouse, the "Hoge licht", which can be seen immediately upon entering the former city. This tower is the remnant of the Gothic St. Willibrord Church, which was lost by fire in the night of 14 to 15 March 1831. In 1818 a beacon was placed on it so that it could serve as a lighthouse. A special feature of a light tower is that it is not on the sea side, but on the land side of the town. This was done deliberately so that in the time when the dikes were even less solid there would be less chance of damage in the event of flooding.

In addition, there is a second lighthouse on the seawall on the north side, the so-called "Iron tower". Both lighthouses together form a light line to guide shipping in the Oostgat towards the Westerschelde. The "High light" with "Lichtopstand Zoutelande" also forms a red light line for ships from Vlissingen.

The only mill in Westkapelle that survived the war is the De Noorman flour mill.

Another attraction is the Westkappelse Zeedijk, a five kilometer long seawall of basalt stone in the row of dunes that protects the island of Walcheren from the sea. For the delta works, this was the sign of the Netherlands against water.

The Dike and War Museum is located in the former polder house.

Traditional costume
In Westkapelle, special costumes were always worn, but because Westkapelle is urbanizing, the wearing of this folk dress is starting to die out. Traditional costumes are still worn on special occasions, such as ring riding and sjeezen riding and the West Chapel old-fashioned customs.

Nicknames
Westkapelle has long been a very closed community, although this is less nowadays due to tourism and people who have moved to the village from elsewhere in the Netherlands. This was, and is, clearly visible from the limited number of family names that occur there; furthermore, because it was customary to name children after their grandparents, uncles and aunts, many people actually had the same name. For example, Minderhoud, Gabriƫlse and Roelse are relatively common surnames in Westkapelle.

 

To avoid confusion, nicknames were - and are - used in everyday life. These differ enormously and are sometimes personal, but are sometimes passed on in the family, as it were; often a combination of both is the case. The nickname can be derived from a person's real name, refer to his or her mother or father (and sometimes several generations back), and / or come from something completely different - again, combinations of these are common. Some nicknames stem from events that happened generations ago, so earlier nicknames may have been replaced by newer nicknames. So it may be that families have multiple nicknames, only the newest form is used. Outsiders who are not aware of this may even experience problems, because sometimes a person's real name is barely known: he or her is really only known by the nickname, and the real name must be considered hard.

For more official matters, the initial of the father, followed by the letter "z" or "d" (son or daughter), was usually placed after the family name: the name Johanna Minderhoud Hd, for example, indicates that she was the daughter of H. Less content. This was also used in obituaries.

Sports and recreation
At Westkapelle there is a sandy beach with some beach pavilions.

Near the village is "De Kreek", a lake created by the destruction of the dyke in the Second World War, along which is a footpath. The European walking route E9, also known as the North Sea Path, runs through Westkapelle.

Well-known Westkapelle boots
Abraham Caland, Water Management Engineer
Niels Dominicus, football player
Johan Gabriƫlse, illustrator, lithographer, painter and draftsman
Matthew Galenus (Matthew van Galen), philosopher, theologian
Ad Kaland, politician
Hans Peter Minderhoud, Olympic dressage rider
Alet Schouten, writer
Niels van Alphen, professional poker player
Jan van Rooijen, football player