Grote Heligland is a fascinating street, full of history and with many registered national historical monuments (including all the 'pensioners' houses' mentioned below).
It formed part of the complex belonging to St Elisabeth Gasthuis (hospital, in the Medieval sense as well as the modern sense).
The long row of gabled houses dates from around 1610. they were built as 'pensioners' houses'...as sort of hofje even if that is not the name used.
The Franz Hals Museum at number 62 is housed in what remains of the Oude Mannenhuis ('old man's home'), a hofje established in 1609. This wasn't the type of home where residents lived communally but a set of 30 small dwellings set around a central communal garden, with each dwelling housing two men (over 60, honest and single).
Grote Heligland is a lovely street to wander even if you don't want to visit the Franz Hals Museum.
This hofje dates from 1489, although those original houses are long gone.
The '13 rooms with gardens' were founded and funded by the Haarlem Mayor of the time, Symon Pieterszoon van Loo, and were administered by St Elisabeth Gasthuis (hospital).
The original buildings were replaced in the 1600s and further renovated in the 1700s. The hofje originally had a 'classic' layout, with the dwellings set in a U shape around a central communal garden, with an administrative building included, but when Barrevoetsteeg (as it then was) was widened to become Barrevoestraat one row of dwellings was demolished.
You can see the hofje and its central garden (rather wilder than most hofje gardens I've come across) from Barrevoestraat but, when I wandered past, the gate was firmly closed.
This little row of hofje (almshouses) is different from most hofje in Haarlem and elsewhere in the Netherlands simply because it *is* a row of small cottages facing a communal garden rather than a group set around a central garden or courtyard.
The Brouwers hofje were set up in 1472 by Jacob Huyge Roeperszn. and his sister, who left their worldly goods to the Haarlem Brewer's Guild. The hofje was intended for poor women who were no longer able to work in the many breweries which Haarlem had at that time.
The original hofje buildings were destroyed by a city fire in 1576 and rebuilt in 1586. Those are the buildings which remain today. There are four houses on each side of a central doorway.
This hofje (almshouses) was built in 1770, on the site of the much older 'Heilige Geesthuis'. It was (and probably still is) intended to house poor women older than 50 who were members of the Dutch Reformed church.
Like almost all the Dutch hofje I've seen, the little houses are set around a central courtyard (used as the communal kitchen garden in the past) with a large administrative building in the middle of the rows.
The administrative building is topped with the shields of the benefactor, Wouterus van Oorschot and his grandfather, Levinus Savarij, who was buried in Haarlem's St Bavo church. Underneath there is an inscription in dutch which says, in essence, 'Here Wouterus van Oorschot shows his love for the poor as an example for the rich. Died 19th March 1768'.
The statue in the middle of the neat, formal garden is of Eve, by Johann Limpers (1915-1944). Unfortunately, the original was stolen in 1987 and what you see now is a replica.
The hofje is open to the public between 1000 and 1700 on weekdays, closed at weekends.
You'll find hofje (what we in the UK call 'almshouses') in many Dutch cities, towns and even larger villages. In essence, hofje were created from the 1600s onwards to provide housing for the poor-but-respectable elderly. In both the Netherlands and the UK the money to build them and to fund their future maintenance was usually provided by the wealthy citizens of the particular town or village, often just one individual after whom the hofje or almshouses were often named,
There are still 14 hofje functioning in Haarlem. The word 'hofje' just means 'small garden'. Most Dutch hofje are set around a central courtyard which, originally, functioned as a communal vegetable and fruit garden. Many also had larger fields attached which could be used for bleaching linen or for orchards, but generally these larger areas no longer exist. A board of governors ('regents') monitored not only the funds which maintained the hofje but also the behaviour of the hofje residents, most of whom were (and are still) elderly women simply because women tended to live longer than men.
On my first visit to Haarlem I only managed to seek out one hofje, the rather grandly-designed Teyler's Hofje. Built in 1787 and set on Koudenhorn, by the side of the river Spaarne, it has a very imposing pillared entrance, with some pretty plasterwork frills and twiddles inside its entrance porch.
Once through the main entrance a series of small dwellings are set around a central courtyard/garden with, as is very usual, a larger building in the middle for the administrative use of the 'regents'.
You could spend a pleasant couple of hours seeking out Haarlem's remaining hofjes but, if you want to see the one with the most impressive architecture, Teyler's is probably it.
The history of the Haarlem hospital goes back to early 1400. At that time the Saint Elisabeth Gasthuis was started. The building was known as the Gangolf Gasthuis and was located at the Verwulft. After the big city fire of 1572 the hospital was re-started in 1581 in the former cloister.
The building now is home to the Haarlem Historic Museum.
The homes at the former Gasthuis (or hospital) were built from 1608 till 1616. These houses were assigned to people in need. The terrain became available after the city fire of 1576, that also destroyed the first Gasthuis. It was decided that the cloister at the Groot Heiligland street was transformed into the new hospital from 1581. In later years the houses became rental homes.
This former hofje (a caritative institution, for poor and/or elderly, often with a hospital connected) has a beautiful façade with a couple of details to discover. Indeed, the façade is the only thing remaining of this former institution. The inscription is a so-called chronogram. If you count all the capital letter as Roman ciphers, you will get the year 1435 – the founding year of the institution. The last building however was erected in 1624. The image gives you an impression about how the hospital may have looked like.
Haarlem had an unusually high number of hofjes and over a dozen of the historical ones are still preserved. The Frans Hals Museum for example was a former hofje.
Towards the end of our day we were walking along Kruisstraat when we passed this beautiful mansion and gardens. The gates were locked so we took our photos from the street.
Research has since revealed that this beautiful Hofje was established in 1769 on the death of the owner Wouterus van Oorschot, a burger of Amsterdam who was born in Dordrecht.
David Van Lennep the owner of the residence on the opposite side of the road arrange for the beautiful fence and gates to be built , and remain permanently locked to prevent entry from the street and retain his view of the beautiful garden.
Leonard Noblet was a rich inhabitant of AMSTERDAM.
He and his two sisters made their house and money available for a HOFJE by Last Will.
The first residents had to be members of the REFORMED CHURCH and at least be 50 years of age.
The HOFJE is separated from the street by a garden and a wrought-iron gate.
The HOFJE now houses 10 old Amsterdam spinsters and 10 from Haarlem.
This why one of his daughters lived in Amsterdam and the other one in Haarlem.
The SUPERVISORS' ROOM is located at the Hooimarkt.
The middle part of the building has a so-called KUIF with a clock in LODEWIJK XV style = rococo.
The coat-of-arms of the family is underneath the cove under the clock.
You can enter the walled garden through the door at the right hand side.
OPEN: 10AM till 6PM and free of charge...
There are 14 hofjes in Haarlem and the VVV (Tourist Office) have a special leaflet with a walk that takes in all of the hofjes in the city centre. The leaflet is only in Dutch but I did have Dutch friends with me so this was not a problem. However even if you are a non Dutch speaker you should be able to work out the route and find each of the Hofjes. Each one is very different and most are hundreds of years old although there is one that is a new build.
The most amazing thing about each one is the peace and quiet you find within - a busy shopping street may be outside but inside you cannot hear the noise of the city at all.
The hofjes are also so wonderfully picturesque and a photographer's delight - all have very pleasant gardens. The residents are very understanding in allowing visitors in to the garden areas of their homes and I am not sure I would like people walking past me as I sat having a drink in my garden in the afternoon. One or two people spoke English too and were genuinely interested to know if England had similar almshouses too and what I thought of theirs.
I will be building a gallery of photos of the hofjes of Haarlem soon (July 09)
Frans Loenen was a descendent of an old merchant family from AMSTERDAM.
At first he lived in Amsterdam, at the Dam and exactly on the spot where now HET KONINKLIJK PALEIS is located but in 1578 he went to live in HAARLEM.
Het HOFJES is separated from the public road by a monumental entrance dating from 1625.
There is also a natural-stone little gate decorated with lots of sculpturing which seems too voluptuous. It is in the style of Lieven de Key and in sharp contract with the simpler buildings in its vicinity!
Frans Loenen founded HET HOFJE in 1607 and in 1736 and 1772 it was extended and almost completely rebuilt.
The houses are situated only at the west and the south side and thus form a letter L around the garden.
At the north the complex is almost completely bordering the LUTHERSE KERK (Lutheran Church).
The Supervisor's house with the INSPECTORS' ROOM lies almost completely against the church.
OPEN: het FRANS LOENEN HOFJE has limited opening hours....ASK at the Tourist Office, our well-known VVV.
It was in 1640 that Jacques van damme and his wife elisabeth Blinckvliet founded het ZUIDERHOFJE.
In their Last Wills they gace Michiel Slachregen order to buy a house with a large yard for the women of the Flemish Community. In 1640 Michiel Slachregen bought a house at the Soyerstraat (Zuiderstraat) with the adjacent orchard in which many fruit trees grew.
In 1644 he bought a second house at the Soyerstraat.
These two houses were the foundation for het HOFJE that was built in the orchard mentioned above.
Het oude HOFJE (THE OLD ONE) was demolished about 1891 and rebuilt by architect A.J. Salm.
The main building consists of two floors and is located at the street.
At both sides of this main building are two wings only 1 floor high.
Het ZUIDERHOFJE was built for members (women)of the DOOPSGEZINDE GEMEENTE, MENNONITES
OPEN: from sun rise till sun down and only partly open to the public.
Building constructor Leendert Viervant build TEYLERSHOFJE in 1785 - 1787.
He designed a remarkable entrance building in Classisictic Style at the SPAARNE (RIVER) SIDE (the street).
You can find Teyler's coat-of-arms here and the year 1785.
Left and right of the entrance building are the SUPERVISORS' ROOM AND THE INSPECTOS' ROOM.
All in all the HOFJE contains 24 houses.
In the middle of the HOFJE is a natural-stone pump but this can't work anymore.
At the end of the garden you will find a gate with a sundial and from that place you have a wonderful view to the top of the entrance tower with the wood piece on top.
This is decorated with a.o. a Mercury staff and a Neptune's Trident , signs that are symbols for TRADE and SHIPPING TRADE.
OPEN: from sun rise till sun down and free of charge...
Guurtje de Waal was the daughter of a rich cloth-merchant as you can read in the memorial plaque, and she founded this HOFJE.
Above the natural stone gate dating from 1661 you can see the family's coat-of-arms.
The official entrance runs through the house that also is the overseer's house.
This HOFJE was too small to also build a REGENTENKAMER (Inspectors' room).
The gate leads to a patio with 4 little houses and 2 more opporite the gate.
The model of the houses dates from 1783.
To meet modern standards one house has been made from the two small one opposite the entrance gate.
OPEN: from sun rise till sun down, free of charge.....