Monday, 10 February 2014


Curious Delft

The Venetian Bridge.

The bridges along the canal in old Delft are mostly built of stone, but there is one exception, The Venetian Bridge.  Back in the 17th century a brewer from  Delft visited Venice and he was so appalled at the extremely poor quality of the local beer that he showed the locals how to make decent beer.  The  Venetian’s were so grateful that they built a bridge over the canal in Delft and presented it to the brewer. The bridge was placed with one end leading the brewer’s front door.

The window tax

A window tax was im posed on the citizens of Delft in the 18th century and many people blocked up surplus windows to avoid paying such a tax.  Not so for one merchant who wanted to show how rich he was and that he could well afford to pay the tax – he enhanced the front of his house with huge windows.


The Amsterdam House

When a merchant from Amsterdam moved to Delft he brought his house with him and re-built it in a narrow plot on the canal side. Unfortunately the plot was just too narrow and the façade had to be made to fit. The result was that the window arches were not quite symmetrical.


A convent rebuilt

During WW2 a convent building on the canal side was destroyed. The Nuns were unable to afford the rebuild and sold the site to a college for just one guilder on the understanding that the building would be rebuilt as an exact replica. The students had little to guide them – just sketches and drawings of the old convent – but they made a very respectable replica. Recently a surveyor studied the building and declared that it had been re-constructed as accurately as possible with the exception of the roof tower. He pointed out that originally the tower was in fact on a brewery a few plots away !

Delft’s oldest house

A narrow house with a black façade on the canal side has been identified as the oldest house in Delft and a really great survivor.  In 1536 the town was burned down in  a great fire and this house was the only one left.


The doctor’s house

When the King moved to Delft he brought his doctor with him and provided him with a small house on the canal side. The house has two front doors, a large one and a small one.
Of course, the larger door was for the King to use whilst the doctor and his family used the smaller one.


The Secret Church


In 1661 Jan Hartman a merchant from Germany, bought three adjacent houses one of which faces onto the canal at No 40 Oudezijds Voorburgwal in Amsterdam. Hartman was a Catholic and at that time Catholic worship was officially banned in Amsterdam. Between 1661 and 1663, Hartman built a clandestine church across the attics of his three houses – an amazing church now known as Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder (Our Lord in the attic) and one of very few such churches still in existence.
It remained in use until 1887 when the Great St Nicholas church was built nearby.



The Hidden Village

Vierhouten is a tiny forest village in the Veluwe National Park not far from Arnhem in the Netherlands. from April 1943 to November 1944 during WW2 a number of Jews were forced to hide away in the forest from the German oppressors. Between 80 and 100 people lived in ten makeshift wooden huts which they constructed partly underground. The conditions were extremely primitive – they had no light and were unable to do any cooking for fear of discovery. They were tended to by local people, especially an elderly couple known as Aunt Cor and Grandpa Bekker.

At  various times they were joined by a variety of fugitives, allied airmen, a Pole and a Russian and even by German deserters.

A forest track known as Pas Op led to the village, the name of which recalls earlier times when bandits used to rob travellers on this route.  The hidden village was actually discovered when two SS men were hunting in the forest. Of the 86 Jews hiding there most of them escaped but eight were captured, including a young boy. They were shot in nearby Tongerenseweg where there is a memorial stone.

Three of the huts have been renovated as a lasting memorial and a nearby memorial stone records:

“ As a reminder of the hiding camp and its founders,

In particular AUNT COR and GRANDPA BAKKER.

Presented by the many people who could anchor in this safe haven

From April 1943 till November 1944.”

The Mouflon

These beautiful wild sheep with huge curly horns can be seen in the forests of The Veluwe in the south east of the Netherlands. They were introduced to the area in the 18th century from Corsica and Sardinia and relatively small numbers have survived to the present day.

A very fine sculpture of one of these animals can be seen on the edge of the forest just behind the railway station at Nunspeet.       


A mystery sculpture
A very fine sculpture of a man carrying a horse on his back can be seen alongside a canal at Gouda.  Nothing seems to be known about it - perhaps you know the story?


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