Saint Martin Church


City of Oudenaarde

Town of Kluisbergen

Cities, Town and villages of South-East-Flanders


The Saint Martin Church in the village of Melden (now belonging partly to the City of Oudenaarde and the Town of Kluisbergen, Belgium) was constructed on a leveled up spot adjoining to the Scheldemeersen. During the Ancien Regime, the church belonged to the Chapter of Our Lady in Cambrai (city in France, in Dutch called Kamerijk).

The first church was a small building with one nave in Romanesque style. It came into existence in the 11th century.

During the 13th century, a west tower was added to the construction. The entrance of the tower is still the 13th century original one. It is characterized by its round arch and a stone mask on top of it. Masks were also added in the corbels of the ribbed cross vault inside the church.

The monumental tower and the numerous mask sculptures indicate that Melden at the River Scheldt used to be an economically wealthy village in the 13th century.

Acknowledgement to: www.dekenaat-oudenaarde.be

During 1500-1520, the nave of the Romanesque church was replaced by a basilical, late Gotic cruciform church, with a nave, two aisles and a transept. Limestone from Tournai (city in Belgium, called Doornik in Dutch), used in the 11th century building, was recovered in the walls at the north side. The southern walls, facing the village center, were built with new bricks The body of the tower kept its 13th century shape, even though a bell-chamber was added in the period 1500-1520.

A growing population in the 19th century created a need for a larger church building. The expansion took place in 1871 : one bay was added to the nave ; one neo-Gothic choir and one sacristy were built ; and two side bays added to the tower. Architect was Louis Minard from the City of Gent.

On December 19, 1980, the Government of Belgium classified the church of Melden as a national treasure.

Source: Koenraad DE WOLF,

Architectuurgids Zuid-Oost-Vlaanderen. Romaanse bouwkunst (1000-1225) / Architectuurgids Zuid-Oost-Vlaanderen. Gotische bouwkunst (1225-1625), respectively 1996, pp. 73-75, and 1997, p. 48.
(English translation: Architectural Guide of South-East-Flanders. Romanesque Architecture (1000-1225) / Architectural Guide of South-East-Flanders. Gothic Architecture (1225-1625).)

Architectuurgids Zuid-Oost-Vlaanderen. Van Empire tot Art Noveau. De 19de-eeuwse Neostijlen (1800-1918), 1999, p. 92.
(English translation: Architectural Guide of South-East-Flanders. From Empire to Art Nouveau, the 19th Century Neo-Styles (1800 - 1918).)