History of the residents of Duivenvoorde

  • Eight centuries of residents' history
    Duivenvoorde has a remarkable residents' history. The estate and castle have always been owned by the same family. For eight centuries, Duivenvoorde was owned through inheritance, by the families Van Wassenaer (thirteenth-eighteenth century), Steengracht (nineteenth century) and Schimmelpenninck van der Oye (twentieth century). As a result, eight centuries of residents' history can still be keenly felt. The last owner of the estate, Baroness Ludolphine Henriette Schimmelpenninck van der Oye entrusted Duivenvoorde to a foundation in 1960. In 1963, Duivenvoorde was opened to the public as a museum.


    Oldest owner
    From the Middle Ages, the influential Dutch noble family Van Wassenaer lived in the castle. The oldest known owner - mentioned in the deed of Duivenvoorde of 1226 - was Philips van Wassenaer (listed 1215-1248). It was a noble family of knights, who held important positions at the court.

    The Watergeus
    Arent VII van Duvenvoirde (1528-1599), the twelfth lord of Duivenvoorde, was one of the most interesting owners. He was one of the noblemen that signed the Petition of the Noblemen in 1566, and was banned from the country. Abroad, he joined the Sea Beggars and got the nickname 'The Watergeus'. His son, Johan van Wassenaer van Duvenvoirde (1577-1645), would later prove to be very important to Duivenvoorde. Johan was a very successful man, and held a number of other influential positions. The great renovation of Duivenvoorde in 1631 was carried out under his authority; he made the then medieval castle into a comfortable country estate.

    When Johan died, Duivenvoorde was passed on to his oldest son, Arent VIII van Wassenaer (1610-1681). Thus, Duivenvoorde remained within the male lineage of the Wassenaer family. That is, until Arent IX van Wassenaer (1669-1721) passed away in 1721 and there was no male heir. Through Jacoba Maria van Wassenaer, Duivenvoorde was passed on to the ten-year-old Henriette Jeanne Christine van Neukirchen named Nyvenheim (1807-1849). She would later marry Nicolaas Johan Steengracht (1806-1866), from Zeeland.


    A young lady of the castle
    With Henriette as the young lady of the castle and 23rd owner, a new period of growth began for Duivenvoorde. Together with her husband, the rich jonkheer Nicolaas Johan Steengracht from Zeeland, she would come to mean a lot for Duivenvoorde. Both the interior of the castle and the park were given a makeover.

    After Henriette and Nicolaas passed away, their son Hendricus Adolphus Steengracht (1836-1912) became the owner of Duivenvoorde. Together with his sister Henriette, he resided in the estate in the summers. Just like his father, he was important to the history of Duivenvoorde. Hendricus Adolphus was unmarried, and after he died, Duivenvoorde was passed on the grandson of his sister Cornelia Maria, who was married to a member of the Schimmelpenninck van der Oye family.

    Schimmelpenninck van der Oye

    In 1912, Willem Anne Assueer Jacob Schimmelpenninck van der Oye (1889-1957) became the 26th owner of Duivenvoorde. Not long after, he moved in to live there with his younger sister Ludolphine Henriette (1891-1957) They were the first owners that lived in Duivenvoorde all year round, and they did so in a sober way. Up to the sixties of the 20th century, the castle didn't have running water or electricity.

    The last lady of the castle
    When Willem died unexpectedly in an accident in 1957, his sister Ludolphine Henriette became the 27th owner of Duivenvoorde. Because of high succession charges, she was forced to sell a part of her assets. Finally, she had to decide on the future of Duivenvoorde, and entrusted Duivenvoorde (and its inventory) to a foundation in. After a thorough restoration of the castle, the museum was opened to the public in 1963.

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