Last weekend I fulfilled an old wish to visit Heenvliet Castle (Kasteel Ravesteyn).
We have two castle ruins on my tiny islands of Voorne-Putten, one (Burcht van Voorne) on Voorne and one (Ravesteyn)on Putten.
Both had been slowly and silently falling apart, providing stones and bricks for neighboring farmsteads, until folk realized in the last century that having a castle on your doorstep was rather special, and created societies to save and upkeep them.
Ravesteyn is private property, but a couple of times a year they open up their 5 acre garden to the public.
And a very nice garden it is. There is a respectable collection of statues and art in the grounds. Most of the modern variety that either makes me smirk or sigh with incomprehension, but some of them I liked very much indeed.
Would have loved to take this baby home with me! Way above my budget though...Six monthly wages worth of it.
We took a leisurely ramble around those 5 acres, and as it was gorgeous summer weather it was a pleasure to be able to walk in the shade of large trees some of the way.
I don't know if you are familiar with our native trees (probably not, and I don't blame you), but we have a lot of willows (both ordinary and weeping) due to the sogginess of our ground, and horse chestnut, beech and oak, but a lot of birch and poplars as well.
From time to time we caught a tiny glimpse of Ravesteyn, where most visitors stayed in the vicinity of the refreshment tent, so our ramble was quiet and we could enjoy the beautifully kept grass pathways on our own.
It turned quite hot, so I was happy to catch some shade from time to time.
You probably are not familiar with the geographical history of my part of The Netherlands either, so I'll give you a quick lesson (ever the teacher, sorry, professional deformation I'm afraid).
We are a land ruled by the sea.Actually most of my country, and especially the part I live in, is one large delta. In the olden days, the sea would shape the many islands in my part of the country, and travel was mostly by boat. Either in between the islands, or on the islands, as narrow boats were used as transport on the many creeks and rivers.
This made this part of the country rather difficult to rule. Large armies had no business here, they got lost in the marshes.
In the middle of this old map you see the islands of Noord Voorn (or modern day Voorne) and Putten, with Heenvliet in the middle. (Below is Zuidt Voorn, nowadays called Flakkee, and glued to small Goeree on the left!) Not so important, all those names, but it does give you an inkling what the problems were in governing this bit of country.
Castle Ravesteyn was home to a clergyman called Angelus Merula.
The Remonstrants are Dutch Protestants who, after the death of Jacobus Arminius, maintained the views associated with his name. In 1610, they presented to the States of Holland and Friesland a remonstrance in five articles formulating their points of disagreement with Calvinism.According to 2010 statistics, a 6,000-strong Remonstrant community remains in the Netherlands. There is also a single congregation in Friedrichstadt in northern Germany.
Merula was a remonstrant, and thus persecuted by the ruling Calvin order. Ravesteyn was confiscated and Merula ordered to be put to death by fire. It didn't work though...he died of a heart attack just before they put him onto the pyre. The ruling Calvinist burnt his corpse anyway.
Voorne remembers him though, and in nearby Den Briel a school and orphanage, and many island streets are named after him.
Kasteel Ravesteyn is lovingly kept up, but when it comes down to it, not much more than four roofless walls, where you need your imagination to see a castle. I did find the resident hare though.
All in all it was a very pleasant afternoon.
You'll find Heenvliet on the N218 which starts in Rotterdam. Heenvliet itself is a small village with a charming village centre in typical Dutch style, with the 16th century centre surrounded by a moat. It has some fame as a horse market village.
It will take you an hour at most to visit it, and be sure to check opening times for the castle!
Remember this is cattle country, so cattle flies are around in summer (take precautions if you are allergic).
It would be a very good idea to combine visiting Heenvliet with visiting nearby Den Briel (also on the same provincial road). And please look up my urban hike through Den Briel.
Well, I hope you've enjoyed this post. Until next time!