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instead of introduction

Versmold and its history

The actual beginnings of the nowadays well-known Versmold repatriate us to the high Middle Ages. Two certificates, dated from 1068 and 1070, report about a co-called ‘Versmel’. A regular congregation – former called ‘churchplay’ – is firstly mentioned in a certificate back dated to the 24th of February in 1096. At that time, the abbess of the convent Herzebrock assigned the farm which belonged to the convent ‘Hengliga’ – situated in the congregation of Versmold (parochial Fersmel) – to the church Sankt Petri in perpetuity. The year 1096 is also the year where the existence of the church Sankt Petri and its appertaining community are firstly witnessed. Furthermore, the farm Hengelage in Loxten ensured, to a great extent, that this church community possessed enough earnings.


At that early date, the contemporary Versmold was hardly colonised. Only a few farms could be found on this widely spread area. In the middle of a thorough wooded, hostile, and seeming environment, little islands of sophisticated land were created. Generations were needed to log the forest step by step and to make the land arable. Farm by farm was built – and neighbourhoods were developed which finally resulted in different hamlets, which are still known as the different districts of Versmold. 


It becomes clear that the historical roots of Versmold and its cultural heritage can be found in the countrified environment. Hence, this city guide aims to introduce you to significant examples of the countrified culture and history of the different districts of Versmold. At the same time, it applies that not only the countrified secular buildings, but also the clerical heritage shapes the foundation of the city. The memories range from the altar stone of the chapel from the ‘Schultenhof’ in Peckeloh to the impressive history of the village church of Bockhorst and the ‘Petri-church’.


From the Middle Ages up to the Modern Era, the history of Versmold developed totally individual. On the one hand, a settlement consolidation of the different farm areas took place during the bygone centuries; indeed, an independent village lifestyle should be established in the area of Bockhorst’s church. On the other hand, Versmold and its ‘Petri-church’ became the central area of the whole congregation by natural manner. Sundays by Sundays, the folks of the different countrified districts came to this central church and its graveyard, which was next to the church up to 1842. Furthermore, Sunday was the only day, were trade took place. After the Thirty Years’ War the trade of linen was discovered and implemented. With the then following nomination of the so called ‘Weichbildgerechtigkeit’ (soft picture justice) from the great prince-elector in 1654, well and truly trade of, e.g. linen, was allowed. Quickly, first traders established themselves, who bought excessed linen from the farmers coming to Versmold on Sundays for church. After Versmold was awarded with the city title ‘central place’ in 1719, the trade developed even more. In the after that following years, linen production and trade became main occupation for many citizens of Versmold.


Slowly but safely, a class characterised by civil citizens settled in central Versmold who still engaged in farmer activities for own requirements. Main line of business became craft and trade. Impressive domestic houses were built; the most impressive one ‘Mairie’ can still be found at the market square today. During the second half of the 19th century, especially during the time of the second German Empire (1871-1918), even villas were built; today, you can find this mansion style at the Ravensberger street – the administration building of the Gymnasium is characterised by this style. However, after the downfall of the linen industry from Versmold, the meat industry flourished.


Hence, the memories of single examples of rural settlements lead to civil life and economy of the current time. The impressive density of the historical places of the city Versmold motivated the charity ‘Hans Reinert Stiftung’ in collaboration with the city Versmold to capture the precious cultural sites and places of the whole city and to signpost these places in the different districts. In every district milestones of history can be found. Sometimes these milestones are quite present and play an important part in the life of the district community. Therefore, they are also very important for the overall lifestyle of the whole city. Examples for this are the Paul-Gerhardt-chapel in Hesselteich, or the ensemble of the village church and the rounded square of half-timbered houses in Bockhorst. Because of that it seemed sensible to structure this city guide by districts of Versmold. At the end of every section, you will see a map of the district, so that finding the places and buildings on site is easier.


Finally, I want to say thank you to everyone who contributed to this publication of the city guide. Firstly, thank you to the management of Versmold who promotes the cultural and historical signposting of the city and its district since several years. Without the input of Mrs Kerstin Walter, who was leading this process, this project would never have been finished. Secondly, thank you to the company ‘Werbefeld’ from Mr Jan Bentfeld who developed the graphical form of this guide. With great patience, expertise, and competency he originated an optical successful guide. Thirdly, a sincere thank you to the charity ’Hans Reichert Stiftung’ and Mr Hans Reinert, Mrs Ursula Schrewe, and former mayor Mr Fritz Holtkamp as persons in charge. Since one decade, this charity dedicates itself to the home case of Versmold with persistence. Moreover, it was the ‘Hans Reinert Stiftung’ which paid for the whole cultural and historical signposting in the city area. Furthermore, this charity greatly supported the idea of this city guide and contributed enormously to its realisation. That, what is great about this guide, resulted out of the support and practice of the above named persons. For the rest, the author bears responsibility.


 Richard Sautmann
 May 2016