History of the medieval Saint Lambert Church
The origin of the Lambertus Church is in the Middle Ages. The right of appointment for priests in Vessem at the time was with the chapter of Oirschot. The church in Vessem was founded because the neighbors otherwise had to go to church much too far away: in Bergeijk or Oirschot. The people in Vessem had to raise the money for the church and the priest themselves, plus pay certain dues to the mother church.
After the Eighty Years’ War, in 1648, Catholicism was suppressed and some Protestants came to rule the majority of the Catholic Brabanders. Nevertheless, the congregations and thus the inhabitants had to continue to pay for the maintenance of the church.
Major maintenance was regularly carried out on the medieval church between 1648 and 1881. The annals show, among other things:
* In 1718, slate Bartel Basaert from Luijksgestel was killed while renewing the slates of the spire.
* In 1754/1755 a large part of the tower was demolished and rebuilt. This job cost 630 guilders, partly paid for by the government from Den Bosch.
* As early as 1757 it turned out that the part of the tower where the bells hung was very dilapidated. This was remedied for 300 guilders by Hendrik Verhees from Boxtel, who received this money from chapter and village administration.
In the French period, churches were taken back by Catholics everywhere in the southern Netherlands. In Vessem this happened in 1798 for a fee of 1900 guilders plus 36 guilders for the pews.
Construction of the current Saint Lambert Church
Some data from the history of the current Saint Lambert Church:
* The construction of the new Lambertus Church took place in 1881/1882 under the architecture of H. Bekkers from Tilburg.
* 1882 installation of the Loret organ that has served in the old Lambertus church from 1868.
* Stones for the church were baked in a field oven by Hanneske van de Ven from Vessem.
* Grand altar, the altars of Our Lady and St. Jozef, the confessional, the sacristy doors, the choir balustrade and the Credenscase in the sacristy were placed in 1883 and 1884 by Van Opstal from Turnhout.
* On July 16, 1883 the church was consecrated by the bishop of Den Bosch, Mgr. A.Godschalks. The church was officially opened on September 17, 1883.
* In 1883 the pulpit was placed by Van de Markt from Eindhoven.
* In 1884 the Way of the Cross was placed by H. van der Geld.
* In 1890 the church was painted by Joseph Lommen from Roermond. He also polychromed the base of the pulpit, the three altar tombs, the communion rail and the choir railing.
* In 1884 the side entrance was repainted because of damage after a heavy hailstorm.
* The Way of the Cross was repainted in 1898.
* In 1904 the basements of the pillars in the baptistery were painted and the side walls of the small altars and the choir were painted.
In 1940 the church was considered too small, but nothing happened because of the war. Plans for a larger church in the sixties of the Twentieth Century fell through and plans to demolish and replace it with a smaller church just ten years later failed to materialize either.
Restoration of the tower
Preparations for the restoration of the tower began around 1980. The costs amounted to about NLG 300,000. The state paid 40%, the province 10% and the municipality 30%. The parishioners brought the rest together through donations and various actions.
The tender in 1985 amounted to 205,000 guilders and was carried out by contracting company Jan and Toon Liebregts from Vessem. On December 6, 1985, the cock and ball were placed back on the church tower and the restoration was completed.
The moisture problem and the restoration
Probably the Saint Lambert Church has suffered from moisture in the walls from the time it was built. Painting the walls with moisture-resistant paint and installing paneling disguised this problem, but did not solve it.
In 1990 the moisture content in the walls was between 15 and 20%.
Research by the Technical University in Eindhoven showed that moisture was the main cause of the buttresses breaking through and then sinking into the walls. The air heating, which was aimed at the walls, also drew in the moisture, as it were.
The definitive solution
* All joints in the outer walls have been replaced by a trash and shell mortar that does not let water through
* New copper gutters designed for the heaviest downpours
* Extra spouts in the lower gutters in case the outlets become blocked
* Natural stone covering on the buttresses
* All lead flashing renovated
* Stained glass with additional windows
The result: after the restoration, the moisture problem is overcome.
The exterior restoration cost € 535,000, of which the state paid 70%, fundraising raised € 90,000 and the parish contributed € 70,500.
The restoration was carried out by Bouwbedrijf Van de Ven from Veghel and was completed with outdoor lighting, which casts the church in a fairytale light at night.
Finally, the municipality of Eersel subsidized new lights for the hands and numbers of the tower clock.
In between the companies, the monumental Calvary in the cemetery has also been restored, as well as the Pieta in it.
New altar Lambertus Church Vessem (September 2012)
The interior of the beautifully restored Lambertus Church in Vessem is enriched with a beautiful neo-Gothic altar. The altar was made in the famous studio of Willem Mengelberg in Utrecht and dates from 1903. The altar is richly decorated with paintings and wood carvings. The neo-gothic style of the whole fits perfectly in the Lambertus church, itself a neo-gothic church.
When the side panels are unfolded, the altar reveals Mary’s five “smooth secrets”. These are the announcement of the birth of Jesus by an angel, a later visit to Mary by an angel, the birth of Jesus, His dedication in the temple and the finding of Jesus in the temple.
When the side panels are closed, they depict the four Western prelates: Ambrose, Augustine, Jerome and Gregory.
The altar also includes a tabernacle with two seraphim on the doors. This tabernacle is currently being restored with the support of the Behoud Lambertuskerk Vessem foundation.
The altar was originally made for the chapel of the Meerbosch monastery in Venlo. It was subsequently purchased by the diocese of Den Bosch, which lent it to the museum of Religious Art in Uden for a while. After that it stood for a while in the Sint Jan in den Bosch, before moving to Vessem.
The opened altar is a celebration of colors and shapes:
Old paintings in the church
During the interior restoration of the Lambertus Church, the original neo-Gothic painting by Joseph Lommen appeared relatively undamaged from under the thick layers of paint and latex that had been painted over it to combat the wall moisture.
In 2006, the National Monuments Service ruled that the paintings should be preserved
An investigation followed into the types of paint that Joseph Lommen had used and information about the paintings
The paintings turned out to be by Joseph Lommen from Roermond after a design by Lambert Hezenmans from Tilburg
In 2007, the parish council also spoke out in favor of preserving the paintings.
Restoration of the paintings
Because the rediscovered paintings were considered quite rare and unique, Jan Ramakers of the church board started a campaign to complete restoration.
The costs were estimated at € 300,000
€ 210,000 of this was paid by the province of Noord-Brabant, € 45,000 through actions and donations, while the parish board paid the remainder.
The restoration was carried out by Double-M from Breda (director: Michael Merkx), and under technical advice from curator Bert Strik; The restorers Ad van Loon (Waalwijk) and Sanneke Senders (Knegsel) are also involved
In 2006: Removal of all latex layers by Double – M, applied in 1965 and later years.
Also in 2006: restoration of the left aisle starts
The actual restoration started in 2009. In addition, not only the paintings recovered have been preserved and restored, but also paintings that have been lost on the priest’s choir have been re-applied with the help of old illustration material.
Restoration of the paintings carried out under main contractor Double-M from Breda (director: Michael Merkx), and under technical advice from restorer Bert Strik; The restorers Ad van Loon (Waalwijk) and Sanneke Senders (Knegsel) are also involved, as well as Jan Leenders from Boekel with a few volunteers. The supervision of the implementation was in the hands of the diocesan construction office (Mario Jansens), and the parish (Jan Ramakers).