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Twijnstraat 17, 8000 Bruges


History of Twijnstraat 17

Before De Drie Koningen

The imposing manor house at Ridderstraat 12 was once a clinic, known in Bruges as the Holy Family Clinic of Doctor Depoorter. August Depoorter (1892-1956) from Izegem was sent to the front as a medical student during WWI. In 1916, he was badly injured on his right leg and transferred to l'Hôpital L'Océan in De Panne, where he met Queen Elisabeth. A sympathy developed between the two, which they continued to maintain after WWI.

After several operations on the right lower limb, he was eventually amputated at upper leg level. After the war, he went to England, married there and then continued his studies in Paris for training in dermatology (skin diseases), radiology and physiotherapy (now called physiotherapy).

He completed his studies at ULB. From this physiotherapy, rheumatology would then develop in the 1950s. At that time, dermatologists were frequently engaged in physiotherapy treatments. From there, he later developed a practice of physiotherapy (physical treatment) and rheumatology.

Young front doctor August Depoorter

The commemorative card August Depoorter received from Queen Elisabeth at L’ Océan on 12 July 1916.

Notes in August Depoorter’s hospital diary (1916) in l’Hôtel Océan in De Panne, with notes by Queen Elisabeth

Photobook by René Verhelst, about August Depoorter’s stay at l’ Océan. Notice the pasted May bell that ‘Gustje’ received from Queen Elisabeth.

Doctor Depoorter came to Bruges in late 1920, bought this building at 12 Ridderstraat in 1923 and practised dermatology, venereology (venereal diseases) and physiotherapy-rheumatology. After the acquisition, the Ridderstraat house was converted into a private clinic with 15 beds (the house extended into Twijnstraat). It became a clinic for physiotherapy, radiotherapy, chronic diseases, rheumatological diseases and skin diseases. He was assisted for hospitalisation by the Sisters of Pittem, who were also attached to the National Education Clinic in the Werkhuisstraat.

Koningin Elisabeth bezoekt dokter Depoorter

Group photo including Dr Depoorter and Queen Elisabeth, taken on the occasion of a visit by the queen to his private clinic. The black and white profile in the floor of the terrace near Queen Elisabeth's shoes can still be seen on the terrace of apartment Onze-Lieve-Vrouw.

Doctor August Depoorter died in 1956, his son Agnel already took over the torch from his father in 1949 and became the first rheumatologist at St John's Hospital in 1956. Both sons Henri and Agnel Depoorter continued to run the clinic. With the construction of the AZ Sint-Lucas in Bruges, the Sisters of Pittem were requisitioned by Bishop Emile De Smedt for this new hospital, resulting in the closure of the Holy Family clinic in 1960.

Doctor Agnel Depoorter, rheumatologist, and doctor Marie-Louise Depoorter, radiologist, continued their outpatient practice at Twijnstraat 17, their brother Henri Depoorter continued to work as a dermatologist at St John's Hospital. A curious tradition of a family-bound healthcare story in Bruges ending with the closure of this clinic in 1960.

  • “Barmhartig Brugge – Van Zwartzusters tot Pestheiligen (Wandeling 8.2)” pg. 45-48
  • “Oorlog & Trauma – Geneeskunde en Wereldoorlog I – Montanus Tijdingen 2014” pg. 173-181