Beckum would not be what it is without the numerous attractions and pecularities it has to offer.
The earliest records referencing the parish church of St. Stephanus und Sebastian date back to 1134. It is considered one of the oldest missionary diocese in Westphalia and one of the original parishes of Münsterland. Since the church belonged to one of the four Episcopal Chaplains, its staffing was reserved for the canons of Münster. Bishop Gerhard von der Marck joined the church to a collegiate church in 1267 (canceled in 1812), the oldest of the diocese outside Münster. To mark the 700th anniversary of its founding, the church was given the honorary designation of „Propstei” in 1967.
The baptismal font, which dates back to the mid-13th century, is of particular interest in the church. The size and quality of the Prudentia Casket makes it one of the most significant medieval gold shrines in the Westphalia region. Another marvel is the impressive 1721 organ case built by Beckum’s organ builder Heinrich Menke. One of the largest, most preserved organs of the late-Romantic period in the Westphalia area was built in 1913 by Johannes Klais of Bonn and was later restored by his great-grandson Philipp Klais between 2011 and 2013.
Twelve large church bells produce sweet melodies from the church tower at 11:45am and 5:45pm daily. It is a special feature that is second to none, considering its type and scope in the Münsterland area. On weekends, the bells also ring at 4 o’clock in the afternoon.
Medieval remnants that date back to 1441 lie at the heart of the building. The high gables that dominate the market place were added during the reconstruction in 1879. Before the museum was established, the building served as Town Hall, and in earlier times as a district court, a bank, a fire station, a police station, police barracks and a jail, which is evident through the barred window still found an the ground floor.
The gables, arches and the sandstone figures on the façade of the building that represent the town and church patrons St. Stephanus and St. Sebastian, all bear witness to the centuries-old function of the building as a courthouse (early 16th century, original located in the former council chamber on the 1st floor).
The neo-Gothic building complex built in 1886 shows the importance of Beckum as an administrative centre. The District of Beckum existed between 1803 - 1809 and from 1816 until the municipal restructuring of 1975. The State House, the largest public building in recent times, had three functions: Main Hall, Administrative Building and residence of the District Administrator. But the true highlight lies in the building's interior design. Glass windows, flooring and murals along the Imperial staircase were restored in 1984-85 based on neo-Gothic models. The original coat of arms of the cities: Ahlen, Sendenhorst, Oelde and the municipality of Wadersloh are all elaborately engraved in the wooden columns of the staircase. Another highlight is the wood beam ceiling of the state hall which resembles an inverted ship's hull. Today this room is used for conferences or receptions.
After a turbulent history and elaborate renovations, the Höxberg windmill was opened to the public in 2005. Guided tours require advanced reservation.
The Cement Musuem was inaugurated in Köttings Mill in 2010 thanks to the individual initiative of four men. The museum clearly shows the evolution of the ‘Beckum Cement District’ from its early beginnings until the industrial production of cement.
Galen’s Forge, which is under monument protection, was relocated in 2003 to one of the buildings belonging to the Kolping family of Beckum right next to Stephanus Church. The forge can be visited and the Kolping family also offers blacksmith demonstrations.
Of the original 22 towerst that formed the medieval city fortifications together with the city walls, the four city gates with their trenches and double ramparts, onle one remains. The so-calles ‚Buddenturm’ (Budden Tower) now serves as a local history museum and was long used as an external wedding location for the Registry Office.
Today, and thanks to extensive renovations, there is a local archive in the dormitory of the former convent Maria Blumenthal.
„without Carnival, we cannot be!”
…, so goes a well-known carnival song in Beckum. Indeed, Beckum without its ‚Karneval’, known far beyond its city limits, is quite inconceivable. The entire city is in an uproar from ‚Weiberfastnacht’ (women’s carnival) to Shrove Tuesday. Then it is „Rumskedi, how beautiful life is”, according to another carnival song.
Rumskedi, the black hunchbacked cat, is the symbol of ‚Karneval’ in Beckum. The carnival revellers sing the song „In the small Speckmann alley” in its honour. The highlight of every carnival season is the ‚Rose Monday’ Parade. At 11:11am, about 2,500 participants, over 40 floats with just as many groups on foot and about 20 marching bands, set out through the city centre; namely, with ‚trumpets and drums’!
The ‚Schildbürger’ tales that came to be known as the ‚Beckum Follies’ probably emerged as a result of social and economic decline after the 30-year war. The State Ordinance of 1627 restricted the old rights that Beckum had wrested from the bishops of Münster over centuries. Like many other cities of Münsterland, Beckum was deprived of its old liberties and condemned to economic and spiritual dependency. The Magistrate of Beckum had to be granted prior approval from Münster for every major decision to be made.
The ‚Beckum Follies’, which were attributed to the city for a long time, originated during this time of forced quiescence and dependency.
The history of the ‚Beckum Follies’, which is identical to the renowned ‚Schildbürger’ follies, is kept alive today through the annually held city festival, ‚Pütt-Tage’.
The Stiefel-Jürgens Brewery is the oldest in Westphalia, and has been evidently brewing beer since 1680. During World War I, all breweries were required to hand over their copper kettles for armament. However, the current master brewer Heiner Jürgens’ great-grandmother prevented this at Stiefel Jürgens’ brewery because of her resolute commitment and the brewing process could be resumed once again. Incidentally, the name Stiefel-Jürgens comes from the ‚reputable Guild of Shoemakers’ that used to meet at the pub. Since there were several other pubs with the name Jürgens at that time, a boot would be hung on the door at every gathering so everyone knew where the shoemakers met.
In 1938, the former bridge over the A2 motorway in the Hesseler farms of the Vellern municipality, was the first road bridge ever built using prestressed concrete; that is why it is under heritage protection. The ‚relocation’ of the bridge to the motorway rest stop ‚Vellern-Süd’ was strongly disputed because the equipment and its preservation entailed substantial costs. Apart from that, where else can one take a break from such a lofty height? The bridge was made accessible for pedestrians and was equipped with seating arrangements that serve as a resting point for travellers. Furthermore, there is an information board with explanations.
Since 2008, nature in Beckum has become richer with an additional attraction: Wild horses (Koniks). These wild horses graze on Brunskamp’s conservation and ecological reclamation areas and function as landscapers.
The area bordering the Beckum Hills is characterized by natural streams, ponds and pristine forests growing on calcareous soil; that is why it is also under protection. The open spaces in between and on the outskirts of these hill are being developed as naturally as possible through grazing; thus, offering native wildlife a variety of new possibilities.
Already, more than 20 endangered species on the Red List NRW were detected there. Based on experience with such projects, this number is expected to rise significantly in a few years.
The Koniks found in this area are young stallions who were driven out of the main herds at the Ems. Initially hesitant, they now confidently adopt their new habitat.
Heck Cattle with Offspring
A small herd of Heck cattle (rebred wild cattle) have also been living in Brunsberg since spring 2009. Numerous offspring in recent years have increased the herd’s size to the desired 14 to 15 animals, making it necessary to remove the only bull from the grazing area. The animals live all year round on the fields and feed on the vegetation growing there. Only in extreme weather is supplementary feeding necessary, where the excess forage crops during the growing season are later used as winter feed.
The grazing project can be reached via the Alten Hammweg (Old Hamm Road). The animals can be observed from a footpath along Brunsberg or from an available viewing platform in the area.
Another landmark in Beckum is the Soest Tower ‚Soestwarte’ on Höxberg. Reaching a total height of 23.30 m, it is one of the last remnants of the medieval city fortifications. From the top of the tower, one can enjoy a magnificent view far into the Münsterland, the Teutoburg Forest and the highlands of Sauerland.
The inner walls of the tower are decorated with colorful frescoes of the ‚Beckum Follies’ and are a welcome amusement for visitors making their way up the spiral staircase to the top of the tower.
In 1959, the burial site of a lord dating back to the 7th century was excavated and found to contain valuable personal belongings: two precious swords, a javelin and ornate golden artifacts. In the immediate vicinity of this burial site, ten horse skeletons were found, in addition to four double and two individual horse graves. Both the location of the graves and the precious riding equipment indicate a connection to the lord’s burial site. The artefacts are displayed in the Westphalian State Museum in Herne; replicas can be found in the City Museum of Beckum. An information board about the archeological site can be found in Cheruskerstraße (Cherusker Street).
An oversized replica of the ring sword from the lord’s burial site in Beckum adorns the roundabout at the town exit in the direction of Hamm. It stands as a reminder of the burial site located nearby. The artist Paul Tönnissen and metalworker Martin Große-Lohmann created the plastic art sword sculpture which measures about 3.5m in height. The blade is positioned with its tip in the ground as a sign of peace.
Huns’ Graves or ‚Hünengräber’ as they are commonly known in Germany, are actually tumuli. Such barrows dating back to the early stone age (2500-2000 BC) can be found in the Dalmer farms not far from Beckum. In which case, the name says it all. Stone cists differ from modern-day graves in that not only was a person or a couple buried in there, but the entire family or even the whole clan. That is why up to 200 skeletons were found in some barrows. The proportions were correspondingly large. The grave south of Beckum measures 1.50 m in width and an impressive 27 m in length.
The Nepomuk Statue in the river Werse in Elizabeth Street was created by the sculptor Heinrich Gerhard Bücker from Vellern and was inaugurated on May 16, 1987. According to legend, St. John of Nepomuk was born in 1350 in Bohemia. He studied in Prague and was one of the most famous priests and preachers of his time. He died in 1393 and was proclaimed a saint by Pope Benedict XIII in 1729. He is the patron saint of bridges and a protector against floods and drowning; that is why his statue stands in the river Werse.
The Jewish cemetery was built east of the city along the old fortifications just beyond the city walls. The preserved grave stones of the cemetery reflect various architectural styles, types of rock and quality. Inscriptions can be found both in Hebrew and in German. The cemetery was first mentioned in 1690. The oldest grave stone dates back to 1758 and the last funeral took place shortly after the so-called ‚Kristallnacht’ or ‚Crystal Night’ in 1938. Up until National Socialists seized power, Beckum featured a vibrant Jewish community. The synagogue was located in ‚Nordstraße’ (North Street) in the centre of Beckum until 1938. A commemorative plaque is displayed there.
Due to three city fires in 1655, 1657 and 1734, only a handful of dwellings remain in the city centre including Linnenstraße 7 (Restaurant Ackerbürgerhaus): a half-timbered building from the second half of the 17th century. However, most other buildings of this type were presumably built at a later time, such as the Weststraße 19 building of 1785.
‚Ackerbürgerhaus’ or farmers’ townhouses are historic structures, which have large entrances and are suitable to be farms. So, they are basically a combination of farmhouse and townhouse.
A visible sign of the prosperity that brought cement to Beckum was, for example, the Villa Mersmann. Built by the former owners of the Mersmann factory in the early 20th century, the villa is located in ‚Wilhelmstraße’, in the heart of Beckum. It is one of the largest and most beautiful villas in the city. The living space in the attic, designated for personnel (domestic workers, gardeners, chauffeurs, etc.), alone was more than 200 m². After undergoing extensive renovations and refurbishments some years ago, the villa is used today as a residence.
The impressive villa was built in 1899 on the grounds of the Friedrichshorst estate as an upscale residence for the director of the Wicking-Portland cement factories. The location and the expansion of the neighbouring cement factory were influenced by the Neubeckum-Warendorf railway line, which was opened the previous year. This made it possible for the established lime plants in the Beckum area to transport their bulk goods quickly and inexpensively. In those days, it was quite common for directors to live in the vicinity of the factories they managed. Therefore, the director’s villa was built on the other side of the railway line in close proximity to the industrial site. At that time, a coach house with stables for the horses also belonged to the villa. It was demolished in 1985. For twenty years and until 1997, the villa was used as staff housing.
A municipal burial ground, which was used until 1843, was first set up in 1819 at the site of a bastion of the medieval fortifications in front of the North Gate or ‚Nordtor’. In 1903, the public cemetery was transformed into a park with outer and diagonal pathways. Residents could use the various paths cutting through the park to reach the post office, the nearby train station and several stores in the heart of town. In 1909, the town community erected the Mariensäule (Mary’s Pillar) right in the middle of the 6,000m² park. The lower part of the monument, created by the Beckum sculptor Heinrich Schmülling to honor Mary, was adorned with reliefs and plaques. The original frame no longer exists today. The park is open to the public.
The former Posthouse at the entrance of ‚Nordstraße’ or North Street was built in 1857-58 and used about 70 horses in its heyday. The late neo-classicist building with three avant-corps and exterior staircase was extensively restored between 1980 and 1981. Today, it houses the women's clothing store Th. Holtmann.