Beeckestijn saved!

source:beeldbank_noord-holland.jpgIt is official: Beeckestijn as complete estate is saved (to the left: an image of only half the territory as pictured on the 1772 estate map by architect Johann Georg Michael).
Last Thursday evening (it only took them ten minutes) the Velsen council voted in favour of plans to exchange the estate against development plots elsewhere. This vote marks the end of over 5 years of uncertainty for the estate and the people involved. A lot of damage has been caused by the uncertainty: in the meantime the museum has closed and its collection has been distributed around the country. The garden is maintained on only a minimal level.

So the ambitious new owners have a lot of work cut out for themselves (see my two previous posts for more information about them). Their aim is to present a plan for a centre for garden and landscape architecture before the end of this year, and that will be a big task. The bottomline of today must be the fact that Beeckestijn will venture into a new period in its long history, though. Once again a period of hope commences.

(In my previous post I reflected on Beeckestijn as being eyed by two organisations –Cascade and Stichting Nationaal Tuinmuseum– in their efforts to create a garden museum in The Netherlands. Comments on the Cascade weblog indicate that they are currently not involved in talks about the future of Beeckestijn. To be continued, I’m sure.)

A new “Centre for garden and landscape architecture”.

According to a report in Haarlems Dagblad, Beeckestijn will become a centre for garden and landscape architecture. A spokesman of Vereniging Hendrick de Keyser reportedly said as much in a meeting with the Velsen town council last Thursday. Later this year a they will present a plan, together with prospected co-owner Natuurmonumenten. Dutch garden history society Cascade have meanwhile teamed up with the Foundation for a Dutch National Garden Museum (Stichting Nationaal Tuinmuseum). Both organisations have cast an eye on Beeckestijn as a possible location for such a museum.

The Velsen town council is currently preparing a decision on the plan presented by the mayor and aldermen to exchange Beeckestijn against grounds nearby. The meeting of last Thursday must be seen as a step in that process. According to Haarlems Dagblad the council will probably agree with the plan. A decision is expected within a few weeks.

Beeckestijn assigned to new owner?

beeckestijn-klein.jpgThe mayor and aldermen of Velsen yesterday announced that they plan not to sell the estate Beeckestijn. Instead, they will exchange the estate against land currently owned by the National Agency of Rural Areas (Dienst Landelijk Gebied -DLG). DLG is part of the department of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (Ministerie van Landbouw, Natuur en Voedselkwaliteit -LNV). Included in the exchange are the recreational area and some pastures next to the estate. The local council will have to decide on this exchange within the next few weeks. Continue reading

More restoration news

The ink of my previous post wasn’t even used (let alone had time to dry) when more news about restoration projects came to light. The Dutch funding institution VSBfonds reports it will invest € 3,8m in the restoration of 7 estates in The Netherlands. The estates are:


Reconstruction work in progress at Twickel, October 2007

According to the VSB website, 9 restoration plans have been submitted by estates which were previously selected for the 2006 pilot. This selection was made in cooperation with RACM and PHB. It is the first time this grant has been awarded, if the pilot succeeds a new tender for the year 2007 will be announced.

Grants will only be awarded to restoration plans that comprise the full restoration of the estate. No money will be granted to partial restoration plans.

Restoration news

We have seen the announcement of two restoration projects in the last month, both in the province of Noord-Holland: Nijenburg (Heiloo) and Duinlust (Overveen).

Duinlust in Overveen.Duinlust will see a restoration in the spirit of the design by the late nineteenth century architect Petzold, who redesigned the garden around a newly built house in the 1880’s. Current owner of the grounds is Staatsbosbeheer, the house is in use by a company and houses a fitness club and restaurant. The restoration plan is made by the Dutch Foundation for the preservation of privately owned estates (Stichting tot behoud van Particuliere Historische Buitenplaatsen -PHB), and will be realised by Royal Haskoning. More about these plans in later posts.

Nijenburg is owned by nature preservation society Natuurmonumenten. Together with Vereniging Hendrick de Keyser they will spend around € 350,000.00 on the restoration of the house and adjacent buildings, some early nineteenth century landscape features, as well as the restoration of older avenues. Also in the plans is a cleanup around a typical 17th century Dutch garden feature, the Kattenberg. This is a man made hill, often used as an elevated spot from which the surrounding countryside could be enjoyed. In most cases, the soil with which these elevations were made, came from one or more ponds that had to be dug out elsewhere in the garden.

The ‘Kattenberg’ at Nijenburg in September 2008. Photo by HvdE.

The theatre which is situated on the left side of this map (“De Comedie”), goes back to an original early nineteenth century design.

A main attraction at Nijenburg is the strait avenue forming the central axis from the front of the house towards the west: on the longest day, the 21st of June, this avenue provides a clear view at the setting sun.

For rent at Muskauer Park: houses

Always dreamt of living on an estate, surrounded by masses of designed landscape you won’t need to maintain yourself? Now’s your chance:Fürst Pückler’s Muskauer Park (Park Muzakowski) offers housing opportunities for people who don’t care about living in small houses, as long as the surrounding area offers plenty of agreable space. The park is situated in Bad Muskau, north of Görlitz, on both sides of the German-Polish border. The houses on offer are on the German side.

Hermann Fürst Pückler Muskau turned the park into a landscape garden from 1811 onwards, after having seen examples in England. Since 2004, it is a Unesco cultural landscape. Pückler Muskau wrote about his views on landscape gardening, and his experiences at Muskau. 1Hermann von Pückler Muskau, Andeutungen über Landschaftsgärtnerei, verbunden mit der Beschreibung ihrer praktischen Anwendung in Muskau, Stuttgart 1837. The Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg presents links to both the book and the accompanying atlas.


1 Hermann von Pückler Muskau, Andeutungen über Landschaftsgärtnerei, verbunden mit der Beschreibung ihrer praktischen Anwendung in Muskau, Stuttgart 1837.

List of estates open to public updated

The Dutch ministry of agriculture, nature and food quality (LNV) has presented an updated list of estates, falling under the Natuurschoonwet, which are open to the public. The Natuurschoonwet (difficult to translate) basically concerns a law, introduced in 1928 with the aim to protect estates by giving the owner fiscal benefits when they present suitable plans to preserve the estate. The estate should have a size of at least 5 hectare, of which a large amount consists of woodland. A size of 1 hectare is enough to qualify for fiscal benefits under the Natuurschoonwet for estates which are important from a historical point of view. The gardens and woodlands surrounding castle Rosendael are an example of one of the estates for which the Natuurschoonwet is applicable.
Kasteel Rosendael The list of estates is updated twice a year. The latest version can be found here. As the list only concerns estates for which the Natuurschoonwet regulations are applicable, it does not present a complete list of Dutch estates that are open to the public.

(Update@8-Feb-2007: Beeckestijn was awarded a place on this list as early as 1930. The Dutch newspaper Het Vaderland reported on December 2nd of that year, that Beeckestijn, together with neighbouring Waterland, Heerenduinen (also in Velsen) and Tusschenwijck (in Wijk aan Zee) was going to be protected under the Natuurschoonwet. All four estates were owned by J.G. Boreel van Hogelanden, Esq. Talk about fiscal benefits….

Of these four estates, only Heerenduinen is on the current list now. Why the other three are taken from the list, and when, is not clear to me. To be continued.)

Paleis Het Loo: the Reetz design and the current situation compared

In this earlier post I mentioned the design by T. Henry Reetz for the garden of Paleis Het Loo, which discovery was made public by Cascade. They also mentioned that the upper part of the garden that had not been restored in the past decades, would be restored in 2007, taking this new design as an example.

In order to be able to compare the Reetz design from 1706 with the current situation -before the restoration takes place, as well as with a plan from ca 1725 by C.P. van Staden, I’ve created the following image (click on image for a larger picture with more detail):


LTR: the 1706 design by Reetz (from the Cascade weblog), the 1725 design by Van Staden (from the site of Paleis Het Loo) and the situation as available on Google Earth today (image probably winter 2005/2006).