The oldest part of the Our ladieschurch is dated from between 1210 and 1220. It is the actual ruins between the tower and the hall-church.
The robust tower, supported by highstanding buttres, was built between 1225 and 1250. It has 55 meters high.Together with the middlepart of the church it is an example of early gothic in Flanders.
Due to the economical florishing of Damme and the original church was enlarged during the 14th century in eastern direction under the form of a the population expanded threeaisled hall-church. the new choir became lancet arches.
After the economical properity came the ecomonial adversity and the entertainment of the church too expensive. That is why the transept was broken down and the middlepart of the nave dismantled, at the exeption of the walls in the middelnave.These were necessary for the supporting of the tower.
The spire disappeared round 1727.
In 1890-1895 and 1902-1904 the church was thorthoroughly restorated.The plasterwork was taken away from the walls, so that the raw brick appeared.
The tower of this church can be visited. The climb starts at the innerside under the tower, where you climb a bluestone rotating stair in the staircase tower. This was built when the original entrance disappeared with the demollishion of the middlenave and the transept. Higherup ( above the staircasetower) the climbing goes inside the tower, via a oakwoden rotatins stair, dated from the 13th century.
Undeer the roof you can see a bell in a bell chair. You see also belfry windows (that protect the pigeons).
From the roof of the tower you have a wonderful vew over the environment. You see amongst others the Holy-mother church and the belfry van Bruges (this vue gives clearly the impression that it is built slanting!), the gastankers in Zeebruges, and Damme itself. Note that Damme is surrounded with an angular canal, and therefore is as a Vauban fortress (in fact discovered by Stevin from Bruges).
Under the tower there ie a tombstone from someone of the Egmont Family. This stone was used for a time as cover for a waterwell, before it landed here under the tower.
Inside the church there is e marble altar from around 1630. The outside of the organ is dated from 1639,and contents an organ from 1844. The confessionals are from the second half of the 17th century.
Goele Brouckaert sent us following interesting text:
'The tower of the Holy Our Lady church of Damme overlooks the landscape of the polders. The church is one of the most famous buildings of Damme, this is mostly due to its flat tower.Churches with flat towers are quite unique and typical for the region. Shortly after the beginning of Damme there was a temporary place for prayer here.This chapel was depending of the church of Oostkerke, that was older as Damme. In 1225 the building of the actual church was started, then its tower had a spire with little angle towwers. The town grow fastly and the church was too small.It was enlarged in 1340. This building illustrates very wel the prosperity and adversity iof this town. Glory because of the church having such hughe measurments. Adversity because the still in use church only has a little more than the half of the surface of the old church. The oldest real parts of the actual church go back to the period 1125-1230, it is in fact the part between the tower and the actual entrance. At the beginning of the 14th century the church has to be restaurated and the choir enlarged in the eastdirection. In 1483 the couple Joos de Man (the mair of Damme at that time) and Elisabeth Geerlofs let build the Holy Sacramentchapel at the end of the right sidewing. In 1578 the church was pludered by the protestants.From 1621 till 1626 there were restaurationworks at the church.But these works costed to much for the diminishing people of Damme. With the reducing population that followed, the immense church became to large(and also the notice for the works). In 1704 there were for the first time talks about demollition of part of the church. In 1725 the Great Council of Mechelen gave permission to demollition. The part between the tower and the actual churchbuilding was torn down , the round arches had to stay for supporting the tower. The old spire was taken of also at that time. The recupwerated materials were sold. The tower has still 43 meter high.The interior of the church is worth it and contents several unique pieces. The proud of the church are undoubtedly the wooden apostelstatues form the 13th century. It is a wonder that they survived the plundering of the protestants. In the middle of the crossaltar there is a miraculous cross. further there are fragments of 14th century wallpaintings. There are also several very old tombal stones in the church.The oldest tombal stone from Damme (1294) was kept in the Bijlokemuseum in Ghent,but has disapeared.... '