A relation exists between Lo and the Old Germanic word ‘Lauka’, a bush on high sandy soil. In Lo, as in several other places in the Westhoek it were monks who started to reclaim and cultivate the lands.
A town grew gradually around the abbey in the 12th and 13th century. In 1167, Count Philip of Alsace gave Lo the town prerogatives. In the Middle Ages, Lo became known as the centre of textile industry. About 1540, the textile industry died a slow death but another industry, the cheese making, emerged.
Under the government of Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, Lo was being surrounded with canals, town walls and town gates.
Lo was also the victim of numerous sieges and destruction. During the French Revolution (1797) the monks were evicted from their abbey. Except for the church, the pigeon tower, the chaplain’s house and the presbytery, everything was demolished. The first World War again caused a lot of destruction.
Very recently, on the 15th of June 1985, Lo-Reninge received once more the town privileges. By means of an official document of the province of West Flanders, Lo-Reninge was promoted to land of
Cockaigne and that is an important tourist trump for this lovely little town.
Reninge, with reference to a Merovigian possession in the 5th century, is mentioned with Woesten in a statute of Charles the Bold from 887.
In the 14th century, the powerful family of Reninge possessed the seigniory ”Reninchof” as well as the abbey of Marchiennes. Later the seigniory belonged to de Stavele, de Hoorne, d’Ognies and finally, in 1562, through pawning to knight Maximilian Vilain who left it to his son Maximilian de Gand, said Vilain, bishop of Tournai.
In the 14th century, Reninge flourished thanks to the textile industry. The fortress or the first castle , occupied by the lords of Stavele, was burned down in 1344 by the cloth weavers of Ypres who received the privilege of practising their profession from Louis of Nevers. Those privileges for Ypres generally meant disadvantages for Poperinge, Oostvleteren and Reninge.
In 1914-1915, Reninge was mainly destroyed in these battles: “Drie Grachten” (Three Canals), Steenstraete, Luzerne and Zuidschote. At the outbreak of World war I, Reninge’s population was about 1900. After 1914-1918 the number of inhabitants had dropped a quarter. 278 of the 396 liveable houses were completely destroyed.
The centre of Pollinkhove is situated at the border of the Izenberge Plateau, a sandy and clayish soil. It is limited by the Lo Canal and the Yser. The oldest record of Pollinkhove dates from 1112 and refers to the “Lords of Pollinc” who lived in a homestead with the same name.
Later on, the Count of Flanders named them liege lords. They received the right to lift tolls and taxes which made them rich and gave them prestige.
Apparently Adrian van Pollinckhove had the parish church built around 1500.
Noordschote, under the name “Scotis” is mentioned at first with Zuidschote as possession of the dynasty of the Capetians.
In 1057, Adela, daughter of Henry I (Capetian) and wife of Baudouin V, founded the independant St Nicholas Benedictine Abbey in Mesen. The Villa de Scotis gave Noordschote its name and is mentioned on a statute given by Philip of Alsace in 1146, which was found in the archives of the abbey of Mesen.
The word “schote” possibly means an enclosed space, surrounded by ditches or canals.
Noordschote was completely destroyedduring World War I. The Carabeneers and later on the French Zouaves fought fierce battles, especially near the bridge across the Ypreslee close to the“Drie Grachten” or “Drie Vliet. A commemorative plaque at the Inn reminds you of that period.