Mind the ‘gap’, or you’ll miss this charmer altogether. The smallest community of today’s Veere, Gapinge lies in the verdant heart of Walcheren. Its farmhouses are decorated with green-white shutters and black-and-white barn doors.
The name means ‘she who lived at the gap’. Gapinge was established in 1216 as a circular village, around the church. It was the settlement of the Borsselen farming family, leased out to locals. The Borsselens made way to a long series of nobles. Only during the French Occupation (1795 - 1815) was Gapinge placed under the governance of Veere. Afterwards, it came under the authority of Vrouwenpolder.
The church stands out in two ways. Its tower is the most prominent building in Gapinge, and it is the only village church in Walcheren to have survived the Eighty Years’ War intact.
The round tower mill, built in 1896, is called the Graanhalm (grain blade). This stellingmolen comprises some 120,000 bricks. Much of the interior is in its original state. It was operated commercially until 1962, continuing to function on demand until 1998. Now it can only be viewed from the outside – no visitors.
The landscape of Zeeland is dotted with some 40 ‘flight mounds’ (‘Vliedbergen’), mainly in Walcheren and Zuid-Beveland. Two are in Gapinge – on the north-south roads of Snouk Hurgronjeweg and Schellachseweg out of ‘town’. Such earthen mounds were typically raised in the 11th and 12th centuries for (selected) people and livestock to flee to during very high floods; some were fortified with a stone or wooden castle keep.
Down to the south, on the Van 't Hoffweg road, is a small wood amid grassland, much coveted by birdlife, and named after the road. It’s a fascinating example of how the Netherlands seek to restore ‘nature’ after human use. Here, to compensate for land lost to the new N57 regional highway, a former rubbish tip was cleared and the soil and water thoroughly cleaned. Angular ditches regained their bends and banks, and were raised to make the restored land wetter than surrounding fields. The area is now managed by Het Zeeuwse Landschap, a conservation agency. A bridge dating from 1899 leads you to the back (south side) and a quiet area with seating. The bliss of the breeze, the birds, the views yonder of the Middelburg skyline: few people know this one. Promise?r