It started out with a picture in a book, that I seemed to recognize. A short while later, we were amazed that we hadn’t checked this out in more detail earlier.
Just 2 blocks from our house is a little village that exists as a true piece of history that dates back centuries, and still exists unharmed due to a pact made with a famous military ruler in the 18th century.
You have to understand that we drive down the road the sits beside this small village constantly, and always consider how someday, we need to make an effort to look closer. For some reason, that effort was never made until this weekend. On Saturday Morning, I decided to scan some photos of Admiraal de Ruijterweg into my PC from a book on Bos en Lommer (that I recommend especially if you speak dutch **), called “Bos en Lommer & De Baarsjes – De geschiedenis van Amsterdam-West” by Ton Heijdra. As I was scanning, I saw the image below and noticed that I recognized this church from down the street.
I encouraged my wife Eva, my son Ben and Eva’s Mother (Ben didn’t need much encouragement) to bundle up and go for a walk, and sure enough, we found the church, and the neighbourhood, and took photos of the church.
As we were walking, and checking out the area, we ran into a barking dog, who seemed to encourage his owner to come out. His owner was Elisa, daughter of one of the founders of the consortium keeping up the church. We were invited to see the inside of the church, and get a little bit of info on the church.
We learned that Sloterdijk once was much bigger than Amsterdam, of course it was back in the 1500’s. Sloterdijk was once a thriving little village back through the ages. Apparently, it was founded in around 1100’s, and flourished up until Amsterdam suddenly took over as the main center.
Amsterdam went through an era of industrialization that saw the destruction of many small villages, and churches. This church was saved by an treaty made many years ago by an unlikely source. In the late 1700’s, two soldiers were buried in the church grounds – Willem Hen who died 25-1-1793, and Klaasje Heijling, who died 4-7-1794. These two soldiers were loyal to their leader, who happened to be Napoleon. In honour of his fallen soldiers, he proclaimed that the grounds would be protected until the end of time. Surprisingly, this is the edict that saved this church, and neighbourhood, and undoubtedly why we could see it standing to this day.
As a reminder of this, a stone was laid on the church grounds, which read:
Hier liggen een paar lijken,
die niemand mag bekijken
Al naar gemaakt verdrag
Roughly translated, this meant “Here lies a pair laid to rest, that no one may exhume, as stated in a treaty.”
In addition to this, one can see graves dating back into the 1600’s, generally the same families from that point to the current day. It is interesting to see a continual grave marker, containing names from the 1600’s to the the current century. I was taken aback for a second when I saw the name Volder, and thought it was Wolder (my last name). I wonder if the two names were related, as they are very similar.
I would recommend anyone in town to check out the village of sloterdijk, and wander around the St. Peter’s Church and see some true history.over 5 years ago