Please find driving directions and map below the main text
The Hainaut is not only the main Walloon province (1.3 million inhabitants), it is also one of the most important in terms of history, economy and cultural heritage. We will be visiting one of its emblematic sites: the Hôpital Notre Dame à la Rose located in the heart of the small town of Lessines.
This hospital, or rather a “Gods house for the poor and ill people” was founded in 1242 by Alix de Rosoit, the widow of the then Duke of Pamele-Audenarde. It is in some ways comparable to the St Janshospitaal (1270) in Bruges or to the Hospices de Beaune ((1443) in Dijon. Located on the river Dendre, it was managed as a self-supporting hospital (with chapel, farm, herb garden, cemetery etc.) by the Nuns of Saint Augustine on a practically unchanged site.
It pursued its social role until 1982, a quite exceptionally long period. During its more than 700 years of existence the hospital was of course renovated and adapted to new needs, but the result remains a harmonious architectural ensemble where different styles, from gothic to renaissance and baroque are represented and form together a timeless ensemble with the cloister and the cloister patio at its centre.
Moreover, during the guided visit inside the building you will discover a multitude of artistic and scientific treasures: paintings, furniture, medicinal “antiques”, jewelry, earthenware etc. And of course we will not miss the herb garden which was placed nearby to provide a harvest of medicinal herbs for the ill and beautiful flowers for the chapel and which is still well kept today!
Before visiting this impressive Hôpital in Lessines, we will pay a visit to a nearby garden named the “Jardin de France” which offers a geometric and very harmonious French style “upper-garden”.
But when visiting the lower garden we will discover a delicious mixture of flowers, trees and a pond where the influence of English gardens seems quite evident. We will have time to comment on this during a drink with the expert owners who will guide us through their most enjoyable paradise.
Lunch (starter, main course and drink) at the Hôpital à la Rose (new! restaurant) Vegetarians please notify when registering.
By car : about 55’ from the Brussels Ring; take E 429 direction Tournais till exit 29 (Lessines-Ghislenghien), turn left in direction Ghislenghien and after about 1 km turn left in the direction of Hellebecq (Silly), pass Hellebecq and take Chemin de Lessines 38.