Tag Archives: Tönisberg

Churches in Kreis Viersen: 11-20

See here for my first blog post on visiting the 105 churches in Kreis Viersen that I have so far identified.

Churches 11-20

Churches visited this time:

Kreis Viersen churches 11-20

11. Kapelle Heumischhof, Kempen-Ziegelheide

12. Maria-Hilf Kriegergedächtniskapelle, Kempen

13. Evangelische Kirchengemeinde Tönisberg

14. St Antonius, Tönisberg

15. St Josef, Vinkrath

16. Friedenskirche Grefrath

17. Pfarrkirche St Laurentius, Grefrath

18. Kapelle St Peter, Kempen

19. St Godehard, Vorst

20. Evanglische Kirchengemeinde, Vorst


11. Kapelle Heumischhof, Kempen-Wall

Am Heumischhof, 47906 Kempen


This church was visited on Monday 5 May on a short ride in Penelope the Velomobile (I also visited number 12).

CIKV 5 May Track

I’d seen a sign for this church when cycling past a few days previously but it turned out to be slightly tricky to find as initially I just thought it was a barn.

Kapelle Heumischhof Sign

Kapelle Heumischhof

The door (with a sign that it’s a Denkmal or memorial/monument) showed that I had found the right place.

Kapelle Heumischhof door

The door was closed but a lady came out of the house next door and I had a brief chat. She didn’t know much about the church as she just rents the house next to it but said that it isn’t open for services very often but that the caretaker lives a couple of hundred metres away and I could always ask to have a look round. I didn’t want to disturb the caretaker so just took a photo of Penelope outside before heading off.

Kapelle Heumischhof and PenelopeI’ve subsequently found a bit more information on the website of the Kempen Catholic Church: Kapelle Heumischhof. Basically the chapel was originally built in 1908 as part of a planned additional Benedictine Abbey to the one at Mariendonk. However the huge rise in inflation meant that the Abbey couldn’t be built but the chapel at Heumischhof continued to exist and served the rural population as a house of worship and had its own priest. In 1941 it was completely destroyed by incendiary bombs but was rebuilt in the same year. Since the mid-90s the chapel hasn’t had its own priest and services are now only held there on special occasions.


12. Maria-Hilf Kriegergedächtniskapelle, Kempen-Ziegelheide

Kapellenweg, 47884 Kempen-Ziegelheide


This was less than half a mile from the Heumischhof Kapelle.

Maria-Hilf Kriegergedächtniskirche Sign

In amongst a very small hamlet of maybe eight houses I found this rather attractive little chapel.

Maria-Hilf Kriegergedächtniskirche

The Denkmal website for it explains that it was built in 1875 in the Gothic Revival style. The residents of Ziegelheide had wanted to produce a sign of their faithfulness to the Catholic Church because of the culture wars around the time of the First Vatican Council (1870-71). They called the church Maria-Hilf (Maria-Help) as it was built in honour of Mary, the comforter of the afflicted and helper of Christians. In October 1926 the chapel was turned into a war memorial.

The chapel was shut but I attempted to take a photo through one of the windows.

Inside Maria-Hilf Kriegergedächtniskirche

13. Evangelische Kirchengemeinde Tönisberg

Feldweg 8, 47906 Kempen-Tönisberg


It’s surprising it’s taken me this long (five weeks) to visit this church as it’s pretty near, just three and a half miles away, and it’s also linked to the church that I attend in St Hubert (it shares the same minister, etc).

On a rainy afternoon I decided to pop out for a quick spin in Penelope and found myself heading towards Tönisberg. The clue’s in the name – it’s a mountain! (well, not quite, it’s a moraine and not thaaaat high) but I felt like I had enough energy to winch myself up in my heavy velomobile. So I did.

My Garmin had one church in Tönisberg but it became apparent very quickly that that church, the Evangelische Kirche, was not the only one – I could see a whacking great church spire which was not where my church waypoint suggested. No surprises, it was a large catholic church, which I visited next.

Anyway, this was my route to the two Tönisberg churches:

Tönisberg Churches Track

The Evangelische Kirche is tucked away down a quiet residential street with just a fairly small road sign pointing to it. It wasn’t even that obvious as the church tower was hiding behind a tree as you viewed it from the road.

Tönisberg Evangelische Kirche 1Up a bit closer it still looked a bit weird – like a bungalow with a strange concrete tower outside.

Tönisberg Evangelische Kirche 2And it looked as though it was built on top of someone’s house!

Tönisberg Evangelische Kirche 3

I wondered if this was the house of the Pfarrer (the minister) but friend Anja told me it’s where the church caretaker/verger lives. The Pfarrer lives in one of the houses opposite.

Despite having the church magazine for this church I couldn’t find out any information about its history except for a plaque on the front showing that it was built in 1974.

14. St Antonius, Tönisberg

Dr.-Laakmann-Gasse 2, 47906 Kempen-Tönisberg


This is the church that was the owner of the large steeple I could see as I cycled into Tönisberg.

St Antonius 1

It was yet another of these buildings that was so large, but closely surrounded by houses and shops, that you can’t really see the whole thing at once.

This history plaque was beside the front door to the church.

St Antonius Plaque

In summary, there had been various chapels in the general area linked with the name St Antonius from the early 14th century. The present church was completed in 1898.St Antonius 2

St Antonius 3Reading the Wikipedia article on this church, it appears that in 2012 it ceased to have its own Priest and was joined in a group with the St Hubertus Schaephuysen and St Nikolaus Rheurdt churches.

It was a shame I couldn’t look inside as I expect it is rather nice, seeing how high it is. The external view is rather dark and forbidding, however, with all the red brick.

15. St Josef, Vinkrath

Dorfstraße 3, 47929 Grefrath-Vinkrath


On 13 May I decided to ride to Vinkrath to check out the church I had on the map as I wanted to visit Grefrath briefly and Vinkrath was on the way. I ended up visiting three churches (numbers 15, 16 and 17) and this is the route that I took:

Vinkrath and Grefrath trackMy route to Vinkrath went past Abtei Mariendonk (as usual), as I took the more northerly route on my outward journey.

St Josef is a beautiful little church set in the middle of a small group of houses that makes up the hamlet of Vinkrath, barely 500 metres from the larger town of Grefrath.

St Josef VinkrathThe website for the church (given above) seems to have an amazing lack of information. It just says:

Die vergleichsweise kleine Josefskirche in Vinkrath mit der großen Rosette über dem Hauptportal weist eine interessante Innenraumgestaltung mit zahlreichen modernen Elementen auf.

In other words, it’s got a large Rosette window above the main door and an interesting interior (which I couldn’t see as it was shut) which includes lots of modern elements.

I could see on my Garmin another church listed fairly near so I headed off to it but it turned out to be one of the wayside chapels – I’m not including them on my Churches in Kreis Viersen challenge!

16. Friedenskirche Grefrath (Evangelische Kirchengemeinde Grefrath)

Friedenskirche Grefrath, An der Ev. Kirche 23, 47929 Grefrath


Another modern Protestant church of the Square-Edged concrete variety.

Friedenskirche GrefrathThe red van outside contained a workman eating his lunch and there was another chap doing building stuff around the side. I wandered to the main doors (to the left of the picture) and found, to my surprise, that they were open.

There was no-one about but I thought it OK to take a quick peep inside the church.

Friedenskirche Grefrath Interior 1The stained glass windows were very pale – they let a lot of light in which was good with that very dark wooden wall at the front.

Friedenskirche Grefrath Interior 2I was pleased to be able to see inside – I think most of these protestant churches are better from the inside with the coloured glass windows and other decoration; the white, blocky exteriors aren’t very appealing to me.

17. Pfarrkirche St Laurentius, Grefrath

Deversdonk, Grefrath


This church is right in the middle of the pedestrian bit of Grefrath and it took me a while to work my way by bike to the front (there were steps from the side which I decided not to drag Penelope up).

Pfarrkirche St Laurentius GrefrathThe church is the oldest building in Grefrath, parts of it being first constructed in  1492. It has a variety of different building styles – a romanesque tower of sandstone, gothic main church building and a 1960s extension of neo-romanesque red brick.

I liked the Greek ‘Ichthus’ (fish) lettering as you approached the main doors. For those who aren’t aware of this, Ichthus was an early code word for Christians, with the letters spelling out the Greek words “Jesus Christ God’s Son Saviour”. It’s why you get fish plaques on the back of cars – usually cars driven badly!

St Antonius Brickwork FloorWhat really caught my attention, however, was a stone memorial around the side of the church.

Grefrath Memorial 1There was a Menorah (Jewish Candle) design at the top and then some further engraving.

Grefrath Memorial 2It’s a memorial to the murdered Jews of Grefrath and Oedt in the second world war.

There was a list of names on the other side.

Grefrath Memorial 3I thought this was a very effective memorial and it is obviously used as a focal point for some memorial events, as this newspaper article from January 2014 explains.


18. Kapelle St Peter, Kempen

St. Peter, 47906 Kempen

I visited this chapel (and the four churches following) on Tuesday 14 May, a day when the sun was shining and it was ideal weather for a little cycle ride.

This is the route I took to visit this chapel in Kempen, two churches in Vorst and two in Oedt.

Vorst and Oedt TrackI had been past this church before on one of my previous visits to the area, on the 17 March 2013, and had taken a quick photograph of it. Now was my chance to get a closer look.

St Peter Kapelle KempenThe chapel was shut, unfortunately, but there was a tall stone outside which had a fair bit of information.

Kapelle St Peter Plaque TallIt explains that the Chapel of St Peter is the oldest church in the Kempen area.

Kapelle St Peter PlaqueThe plaque goes on to explain that, according to legend, Charlemagne got lost around 800 AD in the woods here. After he found out his way out again, he ordered the building of this chapel.

Around 1000 AD the main body of the church and the east Choir were built in romanesque style. At the end of the 14th century the baptism chapel (today the sacristy) was built to the south.

In the belltower there’s a 50kg bronze bell that was poured in 1667.

There’s a bit more information about the interior and then the plaque finishes with the words “Every Sunday many believers from the local area celebrate Mass here” – it was nice to know that this chapel was still in use as several of the others that I’ve visited are no longer used for services.


19. St Godehard, Vorst

Kuhstraße 11, 47918 Tönisvorst


This church is fantastically situated right in the middle of Vorst (as one might expect) but, as a bonus, there is a road directly opposite it so it means I was actually able to take a photograph of the entire front façade of the church for once!

St Godehard VorstThe church was closed but there was a very nice bakery next to it so I went and had a slice of cake and chatted to several locals.

According to the website of this church, it was built in the neogothic style in the late 19th century. The cross-shaped main sanctuary is 40 metres long and 20 metres wide and there is space for 2,100 people. The tower is 75 metres high and there are 100 steps up to the balustrade.

Here is a picture of the interior lifted from the church’s website:

After visiting this church I went to see one of the ‘unknown’ ones that I had found on my map of Kreis Viersen. Here’s the map with the relevant church circled in blue:

Vorst Missing ChurchTo the left of this (above the cup icon) is the red church symbol for St Godehard, the black church symbol to the south-west is the Evangelical church that I visited next (number 20 below) but I couldn’t find any sign of a church at this location slightly to the east of the centre. All I could find was a school there – and my Garmin (which has its own list of Points of Interest from OpenStreetMaps) didn’t have a church listed in this place. So it’s either a map error or a church that has been knocked down and turned into a school (mind you, the school didn’t look that new).

Mystery unsolved, I headed off to the next church in Vorst.

20. Evangelische Kirchengemeinde Vorst

Lutherstraße 2c, 47918 Tönisvorst


This was yet another Evangelical church tucked away in a housing area but, rather unusually, it wasn’t painted white but was instead of red brick.

Evangelische Kirche Vorst 1

And from the other side

Evangelische Kirche Vorst 2It also had a rather dramatically unattached spire. It was extremely difficult to fit the whole thing in a photograph – I just about managed here.

Evangelische Kirche Vorst Spire

This was from the other side – better light but no chance to fit the whole thing in; I had my back to the wall of the neighbouring CVJM building (a German YMCA).

Evangelische Kirche Vorst Spire 2The website for this church is being changed so there was no information about it available.

20 of 105 churches visited

Below is a screenshot of my Google Maps document with all the churches to visit (red symbols). Green are those visited, purple diamond is a church visited and which I’ve actually attended a service in, and pink square is a church I couldn’t find (the one in Vorst today). Bearing in mind that I live at the top right hand side of the map (near the purple diamond of St Hubert) I’ve got some quite long cycle rides to visit some of the churches at the bottom left hand side in due course! Churches in Kreis Viersen - 22 out of 105


Filed under Churches in Kreis Viersen, Cycling in Germany, Six Wheels In Germany

Penelope the Versatile moves to Germany

Today was the day, long awaited, when Penelope the Versatile Velomobile came to live with me in Germany.

As mentioned on previous blog posts, I bought Penelope from Alex who lives in Rotterdam but realised it wasn’t a good idea to bring her back to the UK as she doesn’t fit in my car. Alex agreed to look after her in his garage so I could collect her when I arrived in Germany and was only 120 miles away and not across the North Sea.

I then started thinking of various ways to get her here including the train (probably not allowed), cycling (wouldn’t have anywhere to keep the dog whilst doing it), hiring a van etc. At that point Peter, who also has a Versatile and who had been giving me lots of helpful information and advice, offered to collect Penelope from Alex a week before I came to Germany, to check her over and then to bring her to me in Germany on his trailer. I accepted his super-kind offer, and so today was the day that Peter was venturing from Woerden in the Netherlands to Kempen in Germany.

I had a phone call from Peter to say he’d got slightly lost as it turned out his Satnav only had maps for the Netherlands and Belgium and not Germany so it gave up at the border. He actually went past the apartment as he was trying to find it but the numbering of the road is very odd around here and he didn’t realise that a side road was still the same name, Escheln. Anyway, I was soon able to find him and he followed me back to my Ferienwohnung.

We had a cup of tea first – this was the view out of my lounge window.


After the tea and a little chat it was time to go and see Penelope.


She was well secured on the trailer.



We were very impressed with Peter’s adaptation of his small boat trailer to carry a velomobile. James took lots of measurements of the wooden frame as he thinks he might be able to build a similar frame to go on our car roof rack for when Penelope moves to England.


And a close-up of the trailer woodwork.


James hadn’t seen Penelope before. Once she was on the ground with her roof fitted James had a go. Note the track pump – Alex kindly left this for us. There’s loads of room in the Versatile so it can be stored just behind the seat.


We had promised Peter two things as a reward for delivering Penelope – a go on my ICE Sprint and some German cake. So he changed his shoes for SPD ones and cycled on Alfie to Café Poeth in Sankt Hubert for some cake. I rode Penelope, James rode Gudula the landlady’s bike again.

The cakes were rather nice!


Peter was a mine of useful  information about Versatiles – he’s had two, done about 75,000km in them and written one off. It was great to hear his opinion of Penelope – he thought she was in excellent shape and he didn’t believe I could have found another one in that good condition. Even though she’s an old one (number 6, Peter has number 76) she has only done about 4000 miles so is pretty much pristine. Plus a previous owner, Wilfred, did lots of upgrades on the lighting. I think Peter was a bit envious of the lighting that I have on Penelope!

At about 2:30pm it was time for Peter to go. It had been brilliant to finally meet him and the time spent with him was really useful for advice about maintenance on Penelope, etc. I handed him a bag of choccies from the chocolate factory down the road and some petrol money and we waved goodbye to him as he headed off back to the Netherlands and the maps on his TomTom!

I thought I ought to have another quick ride on Penelope so it was a trip to the other local supermarket, Edeka. I parked in the bike parking area.


When we got back it was time to fix on the signwriting that I had made up in the UK in the week before I left. It was very useful to have James here to do this as he’s done a similar procedure on his boat so knew what to d.

First we positioned the signwriting with some tape.


Then James peeled the backing paper off and started to smooth the vinyl onto the paintwork, using a handy Co-op Loyalty Card.


Ready to start peeling the front paper off now!


The web address appears…


At this point my phone ran out of charge so wouldn’t take any more photographs. However, this was Penelope the following morning after we had also fitted the Union Jack stickers that I brought with me.


Today, the first full day of Penelope living in Germany, we decided to go and ride up the local hill (there’s only one really), Tönisberg (well, there’s also Hülser Berg but I think that’s the same general thing, just a bit more south-east).

First of all I popped out to the local strawberry place. You will see from the photo I have also fitted the little windscreen to see how it works (I think it works OK for me – Alex said it wasn’t a good option for him).


Back again – here is Penelope outside the apartment. Alfie is the other side of the garage door, probably feeling a bit miffed at all the attention now going elsewhere.


View from the front with the windscreen. I have also removed the additional rear view mirror that Alex used when riding with the trailer.


We walked the dog and then had a visit from Anja, a local lady who has invited me to join the choir she attends. She came round with lots of pressies including choccies (yum!), a chew for Poppy and some magazines including the German ADFC magazines (the ADFC is the German equivalent of the CTC, i.e. the national cycling organisation). Plenty of reading material! We had a good chat with Anja – it was good to meet her again (I’d seen her at the choir practice a year ago).

We got ourselves organised then for our trip to Tönisberg. I’ve visited it before but that was on Alfie – he ‘only’ weighs 18kg, Penelope is over 40kg, so it would be an interesting test of my stamina. I wore my heart rate monitor to see how much effort it was. This is a link to my previous visit: https://www.auntiehelen.co.uk/kempen-15-march/

Of course the beginning of the journey, on local roads, is wonderful and flat with good tarmac and almost no traffic. Here’s the view from the cockpit.


Yep, this is fun!



This is a video that James took whilst cycling along behind me.

And another

We were approaching the hill which has this old headframe over a mining shaft – Förderturm Tönisberg Schacht 4. Sadly you can’t get that close to visit it – James was hoping to get a good look.


The hill began and it really wasn’t that awful. The hilliness was comparable to some of the hills around where I live in Essex (like New Road in Manningtree or Hythe Hill in Colchester) so not as steep as some. It helped that the cycle track beside the road was decent, smooth tarmac.

At the very top is a lovely old windmill. I knew the drive up to it was steep but it was a trifle steeper than I remembered! I got almost to the top before stopping to ask James for a bit of a push as I didn’t want to overdo it. He took this pic first – see how steep it is!


The pic below gives the real steepness – still pretty nasty!


By the time I got to the level area at the top I was really warm so was pleased to open Penelope’s lid and stretch my legs a bit in the fairly chilly air up on the hill.


The windmill.


James climbed up to see the view. It was rather hazy so he couldn’t see some of the wind turbines we know are there, nor was Krefeld visible although it wasn’t that far away.


We liked these different tractor tracks on the field adjacent to the windmill – rather interesting designs!



We decided to return via a different route, checking out the location of an Italian restaurant that we’ll be going to for dinner tomorrow evening (with Anja and her husband). This involved a short descent, another ascent and then a long and fast descent. I enjoyed speeding back down again but wasn’t sure where the road junction was and didn’t want to overcook my brakes so kept off the gas. I did 44kph so that wasn’t too bad.

James also had a go on Penelope!



The view from above (sort of!)


It was an enjoyable ride and we stopped off at Sankt Hubert’s Aldi to buy some vegetables for our evening meal. Tomorrow is Sunday so most shops are closed so we needed to ensure we wouldn’t starve before our evening meal!

When we got back it was time to do a couple of little jobs on Penelope that Peter or we had identified.

The first was to stop the Rohloff gear changing cables from hanging so near to the ground. You can see the problem here in this photo:

Penelope dangling cables

This was an easy fix, recommended by Peter, which involves cable-tying them together (there are two Rohloff cables) and then attaching them to one or two of the screws holding the underplate onto the velomobile.

We needed to roll Penelope on her side so lifted her into the front garden so she had soft grass to lie on rather than the driveway.

Here she is on her side – not looking very elegant! You can see the Rohloff cables moving from the right hand control to the left hand side of the swing-arm in front of the rear wheel.


And this shows again the issue. Note the holes for my feet to push the velomobile backwards if I need to!


James added two cable ties and the screws holding down the bottom plate gripped them.


Job done!


The second job is one I’d been wondering about for a while – how to mount my Garmin GPS.

Penelope had the original Topeak Panoram cycle computer which has lots of information. Unfortunately its pickup from the wheel was very erratic and although we fiddled with it a bit while Peter was here we couldn’t get it to work reliably. I decided that I would prefer to have the Garmin there.

But how to mount it? The Garmin mounts onto a stem, the Panoram mounting was screwed onto a flat metal plate.

We took the Panoram unit off its mount, so the plastic mount frame was still there, and realised it would probably hold the Garmin mount in place. Which it did! (Sorry for the fuzzy photo, the camera focused on the parking brake rather than the Garmin mount)


Frank the landlord donated us two decent black cable ties – the ones I had were a bit thin.

Here is the Garmin in situ.


With everything done and tidied up we put Penelope to bed beside Alfie who is probably doubly fed up now that his Garmin mount has been stolen. I shall have to buy another one to put on him for when I use him – probably in the heights of summer when a velomobile is just too hot.

Tomorrow we take Penelope to church in the morning (well, I suspect she will stay outside) and then for an evening ride to the Italian restaurant which will include a ride back in the dark. I have charged up all four battery packs that Alex provided and so it’ll be interesting so see how much power a five mile ride in the dark uses. Penelope holds two battery packs at once which is plenty of power.


Filed under Recumbent Trikes