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A small selection from the rich history of 'De Olde Signorie'.

A small selection from the rich history of 'De Olde Signorie'.

The story of a stately old lady…

A small selection from the rich history of 'De Olde Signorie'.

Leeuwarden was 'the place to be' in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The city rose in prestige because it became the residence of the Frisian Nassaus. Leeuwarden flourished. The population grew rapidly and one beautiful building after another was erected. The Chancellery (where justice was administered), the Stadhouderlijk Hof, the Waag (as a center of trade), and the leaning tower, the Oldehove, all date from that time.

The magistrates, higher administrators and landed gentry also shared in the prosperity. At the beginning of the 16th century, the foundation stone of the house that would later be called 'De Olde Signorie' was laid at 'de Oude Blockhuyster Pijp'. The street on which the building was located was given the name Ossekop, after the inn in the street where a wooden Ossekop hung outside. It was a chic street with striking stately buildings. Ossekop 13 was inhabited by distinguished people, which is still apparent from the many precious interior parts from the 15th to the 20th century that adorn the building. In 1681 the name 'De Olde Signorie' appears for the first time when the entirety of the building and outbuildings is described as: 'seeckere huysinge hovinge cum annexis, de olde signorie genaemt'.

A mayor of nobility

One of the most important (in all respects) residents was baron Wilco Julius van Welderen Rengers, alderman in the 18th century and later mayor of Leeuwarden, member of parliament and member of the Senate. The Rengers Park, which he donated to the city in 1904, is reminiscent of his name. That he could afford something is evident from the fact that in the less cold months the family left their city home for their beautiful summer residence Stania State in Oenkerk, surrounded by a spacious park in landscape style.

Equal Justice for All!

Another striking resident was Geesje Beekhuis-Feddes (Leeuwarden, December 22, 1831 – Leeuwarden, September 24, 1882). She was not only a writer, but also a feminist. The latter had been taught to her from a young age. Koopmansdatter Geesje married the civil-law notary Christiaan Houdijn Beekhuis in 1855. Because her father did not give permission for the marriage, Geesje received written permission from her mother. She lived in 'De Olde Signorie' with her family of twelve children. Geesje Feddes opposed the disadvantageous position of women in and out of marriage that was established by law. Under the pseudonym 'Eene Vrouw' she wrote the brochure Equal justice for all! On the social position of women.

Girl next door Saskia, the love of Rembrandt's life

But the house also had special neighbors. Saskia Uylenburgh was born at number 11 in August 1612, later wife of Rembrandt van Rijn. She grew up there and played on the street. She lived there until she was sixteen. The family had 8 children. Saskia's mother died when she was seven years old, her father when she was twelve. Saskia came from a good litter. Her father was involved in the founding of the University of Franeker and was later mayor of Leeuwarden. When all her sisters got married and left the parental home – Saskia was an afterthought – the house was sold and Saskia went to live with one of her sisters. When she was 21, she met her as-husband through a relative in Amsterdam who looked after Rembrandt's affairs. They were head over heels in love.

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Published 13-01-2022 / Copyright © De Olde Signorie