Tilques is a friendly and peaceful village occupying some 135 hectares of the Audomarois marsh. It is accessed in particular by two "entrance gates" which are the monks' marsh and the guillotine bridge. The latter marks the starting point of the lansbergue trail, a waterside walking path leading to the Serques marsh.
In Tilques, in addition to the marsh, you will appreciate the landscapes marked by the presence of a rich heritage constituted by the castle of Ecou, by the castle of Hiccups, as well as by the church. The oldest parts date from the XNUMXth century. In terms of religious heritage, the confluence of the Ecou river and that of the open sea is marked by the presence of a statue of the Virgin Mary. The virgin of Tilques was once a very popular place of pilgrimage.
Finally, gourmets will find in this village of the Audomarois marshes two specialties to the delight of their palate: the famous Carrot de Tilques and watercress grown in the watercress farm of Tilques.
The name of Tilques is attested in 1140 under the Flemish form Tilleke. A translation from the Old Germanic of Tilliacum meaning "domain of Tillius". The term was then francized in the form of Tilcques.
This village was already in the Middle Ages under the jurisdiction of the abbey of Saint-Bertin de St-Omer.
The church of Tilques
The church of Tilques, dedicated to the Sacred Heart, has its origins at the end of the 1294th century. The presence of a church of the Sacred Heart is indeed attested to its location in 1801. It included a stone spire, which was altered in the 1515th century. Like many churches during the Revolution, it will be abandoned and occupied. It will serve in particular as a saltpetre. It will return to worship in XNUMX, but its deplorable state required urgent work. Thus a thatched roof was laid while waiting to carry out more permanent work on the tower and the nave in the course of the XNUMXth century. It was the architect Charles Leroy who will take care of most of the operations. A specialist in neo-Gothic churches, he notably created that of Haut-Pont in Saint-Omer, the church of Saint-Martin-au-Laert (today Saint-Martin-lez-Tatinghem) and Notre-Dame cathedral. from La Treille to Lille. The bell, dating from XNUMX, is listed as a historical monument.
Pilgrimage to the Virgin
At the intersection of the Grand Large and the Ecou river stands the Virgin of Tilques. This statue, sculpted in the early 1960s, was the subject of pilgrimages from August 15 until the 1990s. On this occasion, many bacôves marched at its feet. This virgin is also nicknamed “Notre-Dame-des-Marais”.
The Chateau d'Ecou
The Château d'Écou, named after Lord Willelmus d'Ekout, dates from the XNUMXth century and was remodeled in the XNUMXth century. Until the beginning of the XNUMXth century, the building passed through various lords and various large Audomaroise families, including the Taffin family. This will keep the castle of Ecou for two centuries. Partly destroyed by the Germans during the Second World War, the castle was rebuilt during the second half of the XNUMXth century.
The Château du Hocquet, known as the “Château de Tilques”.
This castle takes its name from Le Hocquet, a former stronghold of Tilques belonging between the 1890th and XNUMXth centuries to the Taffin family. It included a mansion dating from the XNUMXth century, on the ruins of which the current castle of Tilques was built during the XNUMXs. Transformed after the war into a seminary for priests, it has since housed the hotel-restaurant of the Castle run by the Najetti group. . A select and popular address of the Audomarois which has welcomed many personalities during its existence.
At the edge of the western marsh, the cressonnière takes advantage of the pure waters of a few springs which supply its basins. Excellent fresh vegetable consumed especially in spring and winter, watercress has been the subject of a real commercialization since the XNUMXth century.
Discover here the website of the watercress.
Another jewel of the local gastronomy, the Carotte de Tilques thrives in the sandy land around the western marsh. These allow him to push without forking. This is the secret of this large cylindrical-conical carrot, 30 cm long, which delights us from October to April.
Generous, tasty, this carrot is perfect for small casseroles.
Around the village
The town of Tilques, located in the heart of the Audomarois marshes, adjoins the towns and villages of St-Omer, Serques, Zudausques and Salperwick.