Year of the Historic Country House 2012
The Charitable Foundation ‘Year of the Historic Country House 2012’ welcomes you to its website!
What does our Charitable Foundation want to achieve?
This year, ‘Year of the Historic Country House, 2012’ is aiming to make more people in The Netherlands and beyond, aware of and familiar with Dutch historic country houses and their adjoining estates, together revered to as ‘buitenplaats’. Our goal is to raise awareness concerning the preservation of this vital aspect of our cultural heritage. Once, historic country houses and their estates were a social focal point and they embodied, especially in the West of Holland – currently known as the “Randstad”, a special relationship between town and country. In past centuries The Netherlands had probably six thousand or more larger and smaller country houses and estates. Nowadays around about 10% of them remain, numbering approximately 600 historic country houses scattered all over the Dutch Provinces.
Without broad public support for this fascinating type of cultural heritage, its preservation is a daunting task. The Foundation wants to achieve this goal by organizing numerous activities, encouraging the organization of events around historic houses and raising media interest in them. The more people know about these houses and see how fascinating and beautiful these places are, the more support will be created for the conservation and management of this unique type of cultural heritage. Thus, the Foundation will organise a grand opening event and throughout the year 2012 will organize in collaboration with the Dutch Gardens Foundation, the Heritage Society ‘Heemschut’ and other parties, large public events. There will also be a focus on youth education which the Foundation sees as an important area.
The Year of the Historic Country House will end with a special meeting to evaluate results. In addition, the Foundation will encourage publications and articles about the historic country houses. The Foundation itself will also publish a book about these beautiful places and the striking role they play in our national landscape.
Of course, the Foundation hopes that this year will contribute to greater dialogue between the various parties involved in the management and preservation of these country houses. Therefore, the Foundation will also organize several Round Table discussions and a major symposium. At these meetings, stakeholders, experts and authorities will be invited to talk together about the future issues surrounding these houses. We hope that these meetings will lead to workable and lasting agreements between all those who care for historic country houses and estates. Our shared challenge in the end is to properly protect this priceless cultural and natural heritage for future generations!
What is a “BUITENPLAATS”?
A ‘buitenplaats’ is a historic country house, often with outbuildings, harmoniously and indivisibly attached to a surrounding garden or park. In the Netherlands, mainly in the Central and Western parts of the country, wealthy urban-dwellers built their country estates between 1600 and 1900 in the surrounding countryside and were able in the summer to escape the unhealthy (due to epidemics) and stinking (due to polluted canals) city. In these self-created country oases, they explored the art of pleasure and occupied themselves and their guests with literature, poetry, music, rare plants and flowers, landscaping and visual arts.
In the Northern, Eastern and Southern parts of The Netherlands historic country houses developed from two roots. Here, some country houses can be found that were built upon older fortifications (known as ‘borgen’, ‘states’ and ‘havezaten’) and others which developed out of country estates. In the West, rich merchants found refuge from the city in the countryside in the summer. In Northern and Eastern parts of the Netherlands the nobility sometimes travelled in the opposite direction from the countryside to cities like The Hague and Utrecht. In all of these developments, in the 17th-and 18th-century the Amsterdam regents and merchants played a leading role. Through the construction of their hundreds of country houses outside Amsterdam they made the city into a true metropolis. This development is unique in Europe!
These estates were devoted to leisure. This was also the case on the large estates in the eastern parts of the Netherlands, but the upkeep of these often vast estates throughout the year was and is a full time task. The management of the farmhouses, forest management, the leasing of farmland and other local political and social duties were burdensome.
Many such estates consist of a mixture of historic and contemporary elements.
Most of the pages on this website are in Dutch (see website via Google Translation)
On this website you can:
- read more about the Foundation and its goals (heading ‘Themajaar’)
- find a calendar showing all the activities held at a country house in the Netherlands (see heading ‘Activiteiten’, ‘Kalender’),
- explore a lot of the topics mentioned above (heading ‘Over Buitenplaatsen’)
If you want more information about the Charitable Foundation ‘Year of the Historic Country House 2012’, or more specific information on one of the related topics, or you want to know more about our activities, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org