Monday, 23 September 2013

Daft about Delft

Having had my fill of Vermeer, I moved on to the Old Church - the one with the leaning tower. Like the one in Pisa, it's been leaning for centuries, so I had no anxiety in going in! Like many others in the Netherlands, the interior was denuded after the Reformation, but it is a calm and venerable building. I paid my respects at the grave of Vermeer, and repaired outside to the charming cafe in the square adjoining the church, the Cafe de Oude Jan (above). It was great - sun shining, lovely salad, loads of people from all over. I chatted a little with not one but two families from Spain, and could have stayed all day relaxing. However, I had to return to the other church where I had been unable to get in earlier.
The New Church is more grand than the Old, and it has a special place for Dutch people because the Royal Family have been buried there for centuries. This started when William the Silent, William of Orange, made Delft his centre and became the father of the whole dynasty and indeed "Father of the Fatherland." As a Protestant he fell foul of the Spanish Catholic king, who had him assassinated at the Prinsenhof (Court of the Prince) in Delft, his headquarters, in 1584. You can see the bulletholes on the stairs to this day (left).
Once again the church has been reoriented for the Calvinist emphasis on the pulpit against a righthand pillar. Where the altar would have been is the splendid monument to William (right), and the Royal Vaults lie underneath. Almost all the family are there, one notable exception being of course the one who became our King William III in 1689, and who is buried in Westminster Abbey.
Eventually it was time to leave the lovely old town of Delft. I would recommend it to anyone visiting the Netherlands or looking for a day out of Amsterdam. Fr M definitely approves.

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