history of Arnhem's oldest church begins in the year 1315, when the
chapter of St. Walburgis, a group of secular canons, exchanged their
home in Tiel for a new one in Arnhem. With the permission of count
Reinald I of Gelre they founded a new immunity on a part of his court.
The closeness of the immunity is still recognizable today, with the
houses standing very close near the church. The church itself is a
brick building, a pseudo-basilican church with a unique rectangular
ground plan; because the church was used by the chapter only it did not
need a seperate choir. Another rare feature of the church is its front
with two towers. Not unusual in many other countries, but in the
Netherlands such a front is rare for a Gothic church. The Bergkerk in
Deventer is another example, and probably the only one.
The rectangular ground plan was disturbed when in the 15th and 16th
centuries several chapels were built against the south wall. After the
Reformation in 1578 the church was used as an arsenal and a prison
because the protestants had no need for another church, the St.
Eusebius being nearby. The stone vaults were demolished. In 1808 the
church returned in catholic hands. A restoration in 1851-1854 was
disastrous for the church. Architect Th.
Molkenboer demonstrated his lack of knowledge of Gothic
constructional principles, weakened several piers by sculpting them in
new, more fashionable shapes, and as a result part of the northern
tower collapsed. In 1855 the tower was rebuilt, and both towers were
given new spires. Other additions were plaster and wooden vaults and a
choir. The southern tower was damaged in September 1944, when the
church also burned out completely. Between 1947 and 1951 the building
was restored to its 14th century state, except for the choir which
remained, albeit less high.