Click here to go to the main page
Middelburg (Z): Oostkerk (Arent van 's Gravezande, 1647-1667)

In 1644 the first plans for this church were made. Although there were several formerly catholic churches and chapels the protestants of Middelburg could use, the new quarters in the eastern part of the town were at too big a distance from them. The Oostkerk ('east church') would become the first church in Middelburg that was specially built for protestant services.
Several architects were involved. The first was Bartholomeus Drijfhout, who had studied several other new protestant churches first. Pieter Post was asked for advice. It was decided to build a centralizing church. In September 1648 work started. After Drijfhout died in June 1649 Arent van 's Gravezande, the town architect of Leiden, made a new design as of the first design only the foundations were finished. Like the Marekerk in Leiden, which he had also designed and which had just been completed, it became a monumental building with little or none of the modesty the Calvinists preached but not always practiced. After all, Middelburg was a wealthy city, thanks to the trade in spices and slaves. It's a building in Classical style with an octagonal ground-plan, like many early protestant churches, and is covered by a big dome, on top of which is a lantern-tower. This dome differs from the design by Van 's Gravezande which was probably altered by one of the town architects that were involved.
The whole population of Middelburg was forced to pay for the church, as everybody was supposed to be protestant anyway. In 1651 the people rebelled against the taxes on wine and beer, and the governors decided for voluntary contributions instead, which however didn't help much. From 1652 until 1655 work had to be stopped. Soon the taxes returned and construction continued. When Van 's Gravezande died in 1662 work again stopped for several years. In 1666-1667 the church was finally completed. Today it is considered one of the most important examples of early protestant church architecture in the Netherlands.

Back to Churches in the province of Zeeland

Back to Middelburg