Based in London; Formerly of New York, Buenos Aires, Fife, and the Western Cape. Saoránach d'Éirinn.


A writer, blogger, historian, and web designer born in New York, educated in Argentina, Scotland, and South Africa, and now based in London. read more

The Dutch in Rhodesia

…and why they stayed there.

Journalist Marnix de Bruyne has shed new light on the post-war wave of Dutch immigration to Rhodesia with his new book, We moeten gaan. Nederlandse boeren in Zimbabwe (‘We Must Go: Dutch Farmers in Zimbabwe’).

Why did so many people emigrate from the Netherlands in the fifties? Why did hundreds of them choose to settle in what was then called Rhodesia, today’s Zimbabwe? And why did so many of them stay after 1965, when the country was led by a white-minority regime, faced an international boycott and was engulfed in a bloody guerrilla war?

De Bruyne attempted to answer these questions through a recent seminar at Leiden University’s African Studies Centre. The university has rather handily made a recording of the seminar available online.

Daar’s ook ’n interview (in Nederlands) met Mnr de Bruyne in Mare, die koerant van die Universiteit Leiden.

(Dave: hierdie post is vir jy!)

Previously: Smuts at Leiden
December 2, 2016 1:50 pm | Link | 3 Comments »

In the Old Dutch East Indies

Little Holland’s rule over this vast land – today the world’s largest Muslim country by population – never loomed large in the European imagination (the Netherlands excepted) and thus has been too easily forgotten. Peter van Dongen’s Rampokan series of graphic novels (in Herge’s ligne-claire style) is the most prominent recent attempt to shine some light on the Dutch East Indies and it has obtained a bit of a cult following.

The colonial architecture went through the usual transformations, from awkward hybrids of the motherland and the vernacular to a cool and crisp classical elegance of the later imperial buildings. Henri Maclaine Pont’s work at Bandung is probably the most successful Dutch take on local building traditions, and in some ways Geoffrey Bawa is his spiritual offspring.

The ministries of Indonesia’s government still convene in elegant Dutch colonial buildings, though the names have all changed. The Daendels Palace is now the Finance Ministry, Buitenzorg is now Bogor, and the old Koningsplein is now the Medan Merdeka or Freedom Square. (more…)

November 10, 2016 12:40 pm | Link | 1 Comment »

Zeist’s Zest for Traditional Architecture

The Daniel Marotplein, a residential square in the town of Zeist, provides a fine recent example of traditional architecture in the Netherlands. Designed by the TU-Delft-trained architect Diederik Six, the twenty houses surround a green square named after the Huguenot craftsman and artist Daniel Marot some of whose handiwork is in the nearby Slot Zeist.

The slot (schloss/castle/house) is associated with the Protestant Moravian brotherhood who were invited to live nearby by Cornelis Schellinger in the mid-eighteenth century, and the Daniel Marotplein takes inspiration from the two squares of houses they lived in flanking the castle. (more…)

October 5, 2016 11:30 am | Link | 1 Comment »

A Baroque Church Portal

This church portal in the Oude Kerk of Amsterdam was originally in the Nieuwezijds Kapel, or Church of the Heilige Stede. That church was originally built in commemoration of the 1345 Miracle of Amsterdam, but after the ‘Alteration’ of 26 May 1578 — when Amsterdam’s Catholic city government was deposed and replaced by a Calvinist one — it and all the city’s other churches were taken over by the new Protestant administration.

In 1908 the elders of the Protestant congregation of the Nieuwezijds Kapel decided to demolish the fifteenth-century church and build a smaller one on the site, while building shops on the remainder of the site to prevent the resurgent Dutch Catholic church from building any chapel or shrine on it. This seventeenth-century baroque enclosed portal was then transferred to the Oude Kerk where it remains today.

Despite the anti-Catholicism of the Nieuwezijds Kapel elders in 1908, the Miracle of Amsterdam is still comemmorated every year on 15 March when thousands of pious Hollanders march in the evening Silent Procession (Stille Omgang). This year’s procession attracted 7,000 participants.

April 26, 2016 10:10 am | Link | No Comments »

Smuts at Leiden

For quite some time, Leuven — in what is currently known as Belgium — was the only university in the Netherlands. It is still (barely, some argue) a Catholic university, and after the Protestant revolt sealed its rule over the northern part of the Dutch realms, William the Silent founded a university at Leiden as a Calvinist academy in 1575.

Leiden University has had strong links with South Africa from the earliest days. Ds. Johannes de Vooght — in the 1660s, the second leraar of Cape Town’s Dutch Reformed congregation — studied here, as did numerous predikante of that period and onwards, including Ds. Petrus van der Spuy, the first NGK minister to be born in South Africa.

South African politicians studied here aplenty: Sir Christoffel Brand (first Speaker of the Cape Parliament); Jan Brand (fourth president of the Orange Free State); Marthinus Steyn (sixth and final president of the O.F.S.); and Nicolaas Diederichs (third staatspresident of the Republic of South Africa).

Probably the first South African to be granted an honorary degree by Leiden (c. 1830) was Antoine Changuion, the founder of the Dutch language movement which advocated preserving Dutch as the cultural language of the Afrikaners against the emerging Afrikaans.

It was in 1948 that Leiden granted the greatest Afrikaner — Field Marshal Smuts — a Doctorate of Law honoris causa. Smuts was on his way back from Cambridge where he had been granted the honour of being installed as Chancellor of the University. Even Die Burger, a Nationalist paper opposed to his Verenigde party, found the event worthy of a caustic near-compliment:

“We may differ from him on many issues, but the honour which he has won for the Afrikaner does not leave us untouched.”

February 5, 2016 9:25 am | Link | 5 Comments »

A Horror in the Hague

The old and new buildings of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts

SINCE 1682, the Hague has been home to the oldest art school in the Netherlands, the Koninklijke Academie voor Beeldende Kunsten or Royal Academy of Fine Arts. The school has its origins in the civic corporations of the late medieval period. The Guild of Saint Luke incorporated all the artists of the Hague, and later from this group emerged a self-selecting gang of painters and sculptors who founded themselves as the Pictura Brotherhood. This fraternity in turn founded an academy of art which on its 275th anniversary was granted the royal patronage and name.

Having had previous quarters in the Korenbeurs and the Boterwaag, the Academy engaged the architect Zeger Reyers (or Reijers) to design its own building in the Prinsessegracht in 1839 (above, top). This neo-classical temple to the arts was very much in keeping with the French academic tradition which the school practised at the time, but in later years this fashion faded. Just before the Second World War, the barbarians sacked the temple and erected in its place a Bauhaus-style box (below).

Like all too many changes, it was not an improvement. (more…)

April 29, 2015 3:11 pm | Link | 2 Comments »

NRC Handelsblad Goes ‘Compact’

Another broadsheet bites the dust

ONE OF THE most prominent newspapers in the Netherlands, NRC Handelsblad, switched from broadsheet to tabloid size this week. The newspaper claims it is returning to the ancestral format of its predeccesors, the Algemeen Handelsblad, the Amsterdam newspaper founded in 1828, as well as the Rotterdam Courant, founded in 1844. Those two papers merged in 1970 to form NRC Handelsblad, which is the seventh in circulation among the national newspapers of the Netherlands.

The evening newspaper has gained experience in tabloid-size printing since 2006 when it launched its morning compact edition,, aimed at young, highly educated readers. has a Monday-Friday circulation of over 300,000, while NRC hovers around 240,000 on weekdays and 270,000 on Saturdays.


March 8, 2011 9:00 pm | Link | 2 Comments »

Solution «N» for Flanders?

Matthias Storme’s thoughts on keeping Flanders in the E.U.

PURSUANT TO OUR previous discussion of the dissolution of the confederal Hollandic archipelago in the Caribbean, the ever-interesting Flemish philosopher & university professor Matthias Storme suggests an interesting solution to the Belgian question. Opponents of Flemish secessionism frequently argue that should Flanders gain independence from Belgium, it would not automatically continue its membership in the European Union and would be forced to seek re-admission on its own. Professor Storme posits what he calls Solution «N», which has its basis in the Charter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands and Article 355, Paragraph 3 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. (more…)

December 8, 2010 8:20 pm | Link | 7 Comments »

A Forgotten Architectural Fantasist

Wilhelm Cornelis Bauer of the Netherlands

Boullée isn’t the only architect known more for the designs never built than for those that were. Wilhelm Cornelis Bauer (1862–1904) was a Dutch architect with a flair for the fantastic. He was born into an aesthetically minded environment in the Hague, where his father ran an interior decoration firm; his brother, the painter and engraver Marius Bauer, is better known. W.C. Bauer (sometimes known as Willem) studied at the Craft School before heading to the Royal Academy of Visual Arts and became involved in the circle of Dutch architects that included Berlage, Walenkamp, Kromhout and others.

Bauer had a very high opinion of himself, being convinced of his own genius, which often brought him into conflict with others, including potential patrons. The buildings of his that were constructed (such as a handful of houses in Bussum) were within the reasonable bounds of the Dutch contemporary vernacular, but Bauer was an inveterate dreamer with elaborate visions. Architectural competitions proved a perpetual draw, and while Bauer’s designs were often commended as highly artistic they usual brought simultaneous comments about impracticability. (more…)

October 20, 2010 5:55 pm | Link | 4 Comments »

The End of the Antilles

The Netherlands Antilles is Dissolved

THIS MORNING, one country disappeared, two more were born, a fourth was expanded, and all are part of a single kingdom. The Netherlands Antilles, the collective islands of the Dutch West Indies which since 1954 has formed a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, was dissolved. Two of the islands in the archipelago, Curaçao and Sint Maarten, have become full constituent countries of the Kingdom (alongside Aruba, which was separated from the Antilles in 1986, and the Netherlands proper), while the islands of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba (the ‘B.E.S.’ islands) have been merged into the Netherlands proper as special municipalities.

The government of North Holland has invited the B.E.S. islands to join the province, but this has not yet been agreed to. With a combined population of just 17,000, Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba do not have enough inhabitants to justify forming a single province of their own — the province with the lowest population at the moment is Flevoland at 356,000. North Holland’s offer may be turned down if it entails the complication of the three island-municipalities becoming part of the European Union. Currently all the islands of the Netherlands Antilles are outside the E.U., but all their citizens are E.U. citizens by virtue of being Dutch citizens. (more…)

October 10, 2010 6:22 pm | Link | 6 Comments »

Mauritshuis Digs Deep

Art Gallery in the Heart of the Hague Unveils Expansion Plans

WELL, NOT THAT deep, really. The Mauritshuis museum in the Hague recently unveiled its plans to expand underground and across the street into a neighbouring building. The square-footage of the museum will double after the completion of the new project, which will include a new entrance, exhibition hall, café, and lecture theatre. The entrance to the museum, currently accessed from the side street, will return to the front of the Mauritshuis but underground rather than through the main doorway on the ground floor.

The building was originally constructed between 1636 and 1641 for Johan Maurits, Prince of Nassau-Siegen next to the Binnenhof palace. At the time, Prince Johan Maurits (a cousin of the stadtholder Frederik Henrik, Prince of Orange) was governor of the New Holland, the Dutch colony in Brazil. In 1820, the palace was purchased by the government to house the Royal Cabinet of Paintings. The Mauritshuis art museum was separated from the state by being transformed into a private foundation which enjoys the use of the building and the art collection on long-loan from the government. (more…)

September 13, 2010 7:30 pm | Link | No Comments »

Hup Holland Hup

Hup Holland Hup
Laat de leeuw niet in z’n hempie staan
Hup Holland Hup
Trek het beestje geen pantoffels aan
Hup Holland Hup
Laat je uit het veld niet slaan
Want een leeuw op voetbalschoenen,
kan de hele wereld aan
Want een leeuw op voetbalschoenen,
kan de hele wereld aan.
Go Holland Go
Don’t let the lion stand in his undershirt
Go Holland Go
Don’t make the beast wear his slippers
Go Holland Go
Don’t get played off the field
Because a lion wearing football shoes
Can take on the whole word.
Because a lion wearing football shoes
Can take on the whole word.
July 12, 2010 7:48 pm | Link | 1 Comment »

Holland in die Kaap

’n Groep van Nederlanders in die Kaap het hulle Volkswagen Beetle in die Hollandse patriotiese kleure geverf om hul steun in die Sokkerwêreldbeker te vertoon en hul het hierdie vrolike YouTube video gemaak ook. (Hulle blog, in Nederlands, is 34 graden Zuid).

Watter span steun ek? Ach, baie! Teen Engeland, het ek die Verenigde State gesteun (maar ek haat die “Anyone-But-England” houding van baie in die Britse Eilande buite Engeland). Teen Duitsland, het ek die Aussies gesteun. En natuurlik al die Maties moet BAFANA BAFANA steun!

So vir groepe A-H (onderskeidelik) ons is vir Suid-Afrika, Argentinië, die VSA (of Engeland), Australië, Nederland, Nieu-Seeland, niemand in groep G, en Chili.

June 16, 2010 8:48 pm | Link | 4 Comments »

Hollandic Heraldry

The Eden Spiekermann group, who were responsible for the redesign of The Economist in 2001, recently developed this logotype for the Dutch province of North Holland. The conjoined legs of the ‘N’ and ‘H’ integrate the province’s coat of arms.

March 14, 2010 8:02 pm | Link | No Comments »

Race Riots in South Africa’s Birthplace

CULEMBORG in the Netherlands is the birthplace of Jan van Riebeeck, the Dutch East India Company bureaucrat who founded Cape Town, and thus in a sense the city is the birthplace of South Africa. That country’s had more than its fair share of racial tensions, but NRC Handelsblad reports that race riots recently erupted in Holland’s Culemborg. The rioting was not between Dutchmen and foreigners but rather between Moroccan and Moluccan youths in the district of Terweijde.

“It’s typical of ‘young male syndrome’ says a riot-expert with 25 years experience,” the article informs us. There’s rather something of Peter Simple in referring to a “riot expert with 25 years experience”. In NRC’s case, they are referring to behavioural scientist Otto Adang, but one could easily imagine Michael Wharton referring to a football hooligan or some other ne’er-do-well as “a riot expert with 25 years experience”.

January 8, 2010 3:48 pm | Link | 2 Comments »

No. 82, Eaton Square

In it’s long history, the address of No. 82 Eaton Square in London has housed a Major-General of the East Indian Cavalry, a Lord Strafford, a Lord Bagot, an Earl of Dalhousie, an Earl of Clare, a Duke of Bedford, and Queen Wilhemina of the Netherlands — thankfully not all at once. It’s probably best know for its half-century as the Irish Club, a much-favoured drinking & smoking spot for the community of Gaels in London. The club was founded in 1947, with a number of pre-existing Irish clubs merging into it. George VI — grateful for the devoted service of the Irish who volunteered for his armed forces during the Second World War — heard that the club was in search of premises and asked the Duke of Westminster, one of the largest landowners in London, if he could help. The Duke provided the leasehold of No. 82 Eaton Square to the Irish Club for a nominal sum. (As it happens, the 4th Duke’s son served as a Unionist MP for Fermanagh & South Tyrone, and later in the Northern Irish Senate). (more…)

December 16, 2009 3:24 pm | Link | 4 Comments »

Jan Steen, The Feast of St. Nicholas
Oil on canvas, 32 in. x 28 in.
1665-68, Rijksmuseum

December 6, 2009 10:08 pm | Link | No Comments »

Notes of the Netherlandic Church II

Archbishop Eijk chooses tradition-friendly priest as his cathedral rector

Fr. Harry Van der Vegt

The Archbishop of Utrecht & Primate of the Netherlands, Wim Eijk, has chosen a priest well-known for friendliness to traditional Catholics as the rector of his own cathedral. It was announced recently that Father Harry Van der Vegt is to be appointed rector of the Cathedral Church of St. Catherine in Utrecht, effective January 1, 2010. The priest will also be pastor of the Augustinuskerk and of St. Willibrord’s (which was the subject of the last Dutch church update).

Erik van Goor, of the Dutch periodical Bitterlemon, describes Fr. Van der Vegt as a “quiet but sturdy peasant’s son”. In the face of opposition from Modernist clergy and laity, Fr. Van der Vegt has been known to keep his cool, van Goor says. “Without making a political game of it, without showing any sign of reduced loyalty to the Church as it exists in the Netherlands, he remained quietly loyal to the tradition of the Church.”

“The appointment of Van der Vegt is actually a bit of a surprise”, notes one Dutch blogger, “because Archbishop Eijk is not really known as a major supporter of the old rite.” His Excellency was nonetheless responsible for normalizing the situation of the traditionalists of St. Willibrord’s Church in his diocese, mentioned previously.

Fr. Van der Vegt is currently serving the traditional faithful of Deventer in the province of Overijssel, and his new appointment will likely leave those people without a traditional mass for the time being. However, as Fr. Van der Vegt will be assuming control of St. Willibrord’s, the two FSSP priests currently there will probably be reassigned. The two currently travel all across the Low Countries, offering masses in Amsterdam, Bruges, Rotterdam, and elsewhere.

Parishioners at St. Willibrord’s, meanwhile, hope the new priest will say the extraordinary form at a more advantageous hour; it is currently said each Sunday at 5:30 in the evening.

Foundation ‘Ecclesia Dei’ Delft Releases 2009 Report

The Foundation ‘Ecclesia Dei’ Delft has released its latest report on the state of tradition in the Netherlandic church. ‘Ecclesia Dei’ is a group of Catholic faithful attached to the traditional liturgy as codified in the 1962 missal, and exists for the promotion of Catholic orthodoxy and specifically the liturgical tradition of the Church. In gauging the response to Benedict XVI’s motu proprio Summorum Pontificium, the report finds that “the Dutch Bishops Conference did not define a common policy concerning the implementation of the motu proprio.” The general attitude of the bishops is described as one of extreme passivity, “discouraging requests, ignoring the traditional liturgy, and keeping the faithful in ignorance of the motu proprio by a lack of information combined with disinformation about the traditional Latin liturgy.”

The report posits that bishops are primarily “afraid of the opposition by the modernist-infected priests and/or parish boards.” Many ordinary orthodox Catholics in the Netherlands are disillusioned with the strident Modernism that has infected much of the local church, and the bishops are said to fear “polemics” and “discord” even though, the report states, “they have not undertaken any measures to solve these problems for many years”.

On the teaching of the traditional liturgy in Dutch seminaries, the report confirms that instruction about the extraordinary form is almost nonexistent.

“However, since March 2009 and against the opposition of a number of priestly staff members at the seminary of St. Jan in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, a course about the theology of the traditional Latin liturgy has been given, but only because some of the seminarians claimed to have the right to it and showed a letter from the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei.”

“As a result, 8 of the 12 seminarians now attend a private traditional Latin Mass three days a week at that seminary, despite the opposition.”

“In some diocese the situation has been improved in the first year of the motu proprio only by the initiatives of individual, relatively young priests.”

Some priests have attended German-organised training sessions, while others have received instruction from the FSSP priests in Amsterdam.

“Most of these priests are celebrating the traditional Latin liturgy in private and some even weekly in public now.”

As for the news of the specific dioceses of the Netherlands, much has already been written about the primatial see of Utrecht. In the Diocese of Haarlem-Amsterdam, Bishop Punt is prepared to grant FSSP a personal parish, from which the priests can work all over his diocese. Talks are ongoing. In other dioceses, however, foot-dragging, lip service, or ignorance of requests have been the norm.

November 30, 2009 7:38 pm | Link | 4 Comments »

Kiest Welter

Christianity — Monarchy — Loyalty. This Dutch election poster urges voters to “Choose Welter”, referring to the sometime Dutch government minister Charles Welter. (more…)

November 30, 2009 8:02 am | Link | No Comments »

Quiringh Gerritsz. van Brekelenkam, Family Group at Dinner Table
Oil on canvas, 22 5/8 x 28 3/8 in.
1658-1660, J. Paul Getty Trust

Note: Previously attributed to Cornelis de Man.

November 20, 2009 8:04 am | Link | 5 Comments »
Home | About | Contact | Categories | Paginated Index | Twitter | Facebook | RSS/Atom Feed | © Andrew Cusack 2004-present (Unless otherwise stated)