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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 history 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 increased rapidly and one beautiful building after another was built. The Kanselarij (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. In the early 15th century, the first 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 named 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 evident from the many precious interior parts from the 15th to the 20th century that adorn the building. The name 'De Olde Signorie' appears for the first time in 1681 when the whole of the building and outbuildings is described as: 'seeckere huysinge hovinge cum annexis, the olde signorie is called'.

A mayor of nobility

One of the most important residents (in all respects) was Baron Wilco Julius van Welderen Rengers, alderman in the 19th century and later mayor of Leeuwarden, member of the provincial council and member of the Senate. The Rengers Park, which he donated to the city in 1904, is a reminder 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 landscaped park.

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 given to her with the young spoon. Merchant daughter Geesje married Christiaan Houdijn Beekhuis, 17 years her senior, in 1855. Because her father did not give permission for the marriage, Geesje received written permission from her mother. She lived with her family of twelve children in 'De Olde Signorie. Geesje Feddes turned against the disadvantageous position of women inside and outside marriage that was laid down by law. In 1870, under the pseudonym 'Eene Vrouw', she wrote the brochure Equal Right for All! About the social position of women.
Read more about Geesje Feddes here

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

But the house also had special neighbours. Saskia Uylenburgh, the later wife of Rembrandt van Rijn, was born at number 11 in August 1612. She grew up 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 family. Her father was involved in the foundation of the University of Franeker and later became 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 with a relative in Amsterdam, who handled affairs for Rembrandt. They were head over heels in love.

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