The Mary fountain, first mentioned under the name “fontaine Mère”, is one of Virton’s oldest landmarks. It was used as a washing place by the locals and as a fountain by the neighbouring Recollects. This old, architecturally simple wash house with two sinks is situated below street level. It was covered in 1784 with a beautiful basket-handle arch made of finely hewn limestone blocks. A statue of the Madonna and Child reminds us that this site is placed under the protection of the Virgin which replaced an Antiquity divinity. The 19th-century polychrome wood statue belongs to the collections of the “Musée gaumais”. Until the middle of the 20th century, the “big wash” (grande buâye) took place in two stages. Washing was done at home with hot water and wood ash (the potassium carbonate it contained was a degreasing and whitening agent). Rinsing was for the next day. As this required huge quantities of running water, this often took place either in specially equipped areas along a river or in a public wash house. Then, the laundry was left to be “whitened” on hedges, washing lines or spread out on a meadow.