Symon, the bishop of Noyon-Doornik (Doornik = Tournai) mentions "Ansbeke" for the first time in a deed of 7 March 1145. This document records the donation by the Bishop of the church of Nevele and the altar of Hansbeke to Goswijn, the abbot of the Premonstratensian (Norbertine) abbey of Drongen.
In 1242 Walter de Marvis, then bishop of Doornik, traced the western and northern border of the parish. He did this himself on horseback.
On 2 April 1780 a tempest leaves a huge hole in the roof of the church and the building is considered irreparable. It is demolished and on 13 October 1793 the new church is consecrated by Jan Van Baeten who was priest and dean.
In 1846, the year of the famine, Jan Baptist van de Woestijne, the lord of the castle of Hansbeke, builds two classrooms and a convent. They were put in the hands of the Franciscan Nuns of the Crombeen in Ghent. The coat of arms of the family van de Woestijne - de Calonne de Courtebonne is above the main entrance of the convent. The number 1848 denotes the year of the laying of the foundation stone of the hospice that lies behind the convent. This hospice was opened in 1852 for the old, the sick and the cripples of Hansbeke. The sisters left the convent in the summer of 1988 and it is now in use as a parish hall.
The current Saint Peter and Paul Church stands on a small square that had been a cemetery. Its spire was destroyed on 19 October 1918 and rebuilt in 1922-23 when its frontage was also embellished in the Flemish neo-renaissance style by V. Vaerwyck. The nave is flanked by two aisles with the choir to the West. The marble floor dates from 1859 and the classistic interior was painted white in 1970. The 16 stained glass windows of 1890 to 1910 were donated by count B. de Bousies-Borluut.
Hansbeke has two chateaux: the Goyken or Selles Chateau is referred to as the Little Chateau. In 1816 this country estate belonged to Eugeen Albert Dujardin and Marie Josepha De Vos. Their only daughter married Charles De Seille who was burgomaster of Hansbeke from 1819 to 1831.
The current Chateau de Bousies-Borluut is in the classicistic style. It was built by Jan Baptist van de Woestijne around 1790. In 1887 it came into the hands of the duke de Bousies, later de Bousies-Borluut thanks to a marriage. It was partly destroyed by a fire in 1985. It has now been rebuilt except for the upper level (storey). It is surrounded by a great park with a pond, undoubtedly laid out in the beginning of the 20th Century. The monumental entrance to the property has a beautiful iron fence. At the back there is a fine drive lined with lime trees.
Meetjesland" year 10, number 2, 1977 tells the story of the seven daughters of
René Martens and Leontine Van Hoecke both born and bred in Hansbeke and married here
on 2 January 1903. René was always ready for a gag and a joke: he had hoped for
a first son but when his first daughter was born he told his wife that was also OK
but he now wanted seven daughters.
And the girls came one after the other in rapid succession:
1. Anna born on 2 February 1904
2. Maria born on 10 April 1905
3. Elisa born on 17 August 1906
4. Emma born on 2 February 1909
5. Lea born on 18 August 1910
6. Andrea born on 28 October 1912
7. Elisabeth born on 2 April 1916.
Elisabeth was named after the ever so popular Queen Elisabeth of Belgium who would be her godmother.
Seven daughters in a row was even then, something exceptional and all the Flemish papers reported it. For those of you who read Dutch here is the above mentioned story with a beautiful picture in the periodical "Ons Meetjesland".
In 1998 Hansbeke had a population of 2,212. And on 1 January 2017 there were 1,022 women and 1,053 men which makes a total of 2,075.
The source of much of the above is the excellent "Streekgids Meetjesland" (The Meetjesland Regional Guide), 1998, pp. 118-120. See also: Our Sources.