Nieuwe Kerk Delft Reviews
The Medieval New Church Sep 29, 2014
The Nieuwe Kerk, or New Church, on Delft's market square is a towering Gothic church built between 1396 and 1496. It was the second parish church in Delft, hence the name "New Church". Originally a Catholic church dedicated to St. Ursula, it became a Protestant church in the 16th Century during the Reformation.
The was the first church we had the opportunity to visit in The Netherlands. The interior is Gothic in design, majestic, but very plain and unadorned. (The Iconoclast movement in the 16th century removed the Catholic statuary and decoration.) The focus of Reformed worship is the wooden pulpit in the centre of the Nave. A pipe organ installed in 1839 is in the organ loft. The organist was rehearsing while we were here, adding to the experience.
The most striking feature of the interior is the Mausoleum of William of Orange, located in the Choir. At first, one might think it is a highly decorated altar. But it is a monument to, and resting plea of, William of Orange (1533-1584). He is considered to be the founder of the Netherlands, as he led resistance again Spanish rule. He was assassinated in Delft and his body brought to the Nieuwe Kerk. The States General of the United Provinces commissioned the memorial, designed by Hendrick de Keyser and completed in 1621. It is in black and white marble, with five bronze figures. William's sarcophagus is in the center, covered by a canopy with four corner figures representing Liberty, Justice, Religion and Valour. A winged figure with a trumpet stands on one foot at the rear. I was most struck by the figure of Liberty. She holds a hat with the inscription "Aurea Libertas" (Golden Liberty). I believe it is William of Orange's hat. It looks something like a cowboy hat. I realized that photos I had seen of Dutch people wearing what looked like orange cowboy hats were not that at all. They are William of Orange hats!
Members are the Dutch royal family since William of Orange are buried in the Royal Crypt below the church. The Royal Crypt is not open to the public, but an interpretive display describes its layout and those buried there. (The most recent interment was Queen Juliana in 2004.)
The stained glass windows were installed in the mid-20th century. (The original stained glass windows were destroyed in a n explosion in 1654.) I especially liked the William & Mary window. This window commemorates Stadholder Willem III van Oranje who married Mary, the doughtier of James II. He became William III of England and she Mary II during the Glorious Revolution. The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia is named for them and Williamsburg itself named for William III.
Admission includes both the Nieuwe Kerk and the Oude Kerk.
Part of the Benelux 2014 travel blog
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