40 Years Save ‘t Olde: Church De Rietstap


DINXPERLO – Last year, the Save ‘t Olde Foundation (BtO) celebrated its 40th anniversary. Due to corona measures, little attention could be paid to it. On August 27, it is appropriately celebrated in the Kulturhus. During the summer, an article about BtO is published in De Band every two weeks, each time focusing on a different aspect of BtO.

By Marijke Verschoor-Boele

Estate De Rietstap
De Rietstap estate is located on the Dinxperlo industrial estate, on Meniststraat, in the direction of the Dinxperlo-west border crossing. The estate was originally owned by the Counts of Culemborg and was leased by Bernd te Rietstap. The former name of havezate de Rietstap probably was ‘Reestap’, which meant border. After some time, in 1874, Gerhard Hendrik te Rietstap became the owner of the estate. On his death, he left a large part of his possessions to the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity in Tilburg, on the condition that the manor de Rietstap would be converted into a monastery-cum-hospital and that a nursery school would be founded in Dinxperlo. The Congregation rejected the inheritance because the local population was largely Protestant. The inheritance then went to a cousin, Mr. Theodore Marie Theophille te Rietstap, notary in The Hague. He too had to meet a condition: a chapel had to be built containing a painting depicting the crucifixion of Jesus.

Church of the Rietstap
There were no requirements in the will regarding the size of the chapel or church to be built. Mr te Rietstap then decided to apply for a permit for a small church measuring 6.40 meters long, 4.50 meters wide and 5 meters high. The municipality granted the permit and the church was built in 1911.

Appearance church de Rietstap
The church is built in neo-Gothic style, on the edge of the yard of the Rietstap farmhouse. The small church has the appearance of a church due to the five meter high tower that tapers. The bell rope hangs in front of the clock in the small tower room in the tower. The roof of the chapel has a triangular sloping extension on the other side of the tower. The church also has two pointed arch windows with cast iron decorations. The small church was never dedicated as a place for a religious gathering. Over the years, the church has served as a pigsty, storage space and chicken coop. “I remember that there were pigs and chickens,” says Johanna Hesselink, board member of the working group church de Rietstap, part of Save ‘t Olde.

Start current function
In 1975 there was renewed attention for the church. During Dinxperlo Bloemendorp, a group of amateurs had held an exhibition in the dilapidated church. In 1977 the church became a national monument and in 1979 the municipality bought the estate De Rietstap. But what to do with the now dilapidated church? In consultation with Monumentenzorg, it was decided to move the church a bit, so that the expansion of the industrial estate could continue. With the move, the restoration was also tackled. In 1984 the municipality donated the use of the church De Rietstap to Save ‘t Olde and it became a free exhibition space. Thus the result of the miser Mr. Theodore Theophille te Rietstap open to everyone.

Working group church de Rietstap
Thea Veerbeek has been a member of the working group church de Rietstap for eleven years. She is the face of the church, maintains contact with the exhibitors and takes care of the press releases. Johanna Hesselink has been a board member of the working group for five years. She takes care of the cleaning of the church, the minutes and helps Thea where necessary. “The board consists of five members; Henk Ormel is chairman, Han Keuper is treasurer, Sonja Rexwinkel takes care of the translations into German and the contacts with the German press and the two of us”, says Thea, pointing to Johanna and herself. “We also have eighteen volunteers. They take turns attending when the church is open. I was asked by the current chairman of BtO, Bertie Bussink. He knew I had a thing for art.”

‘We want to show something different every time in the church. Sometimes it is paintings, then photographs or images. We often also have people who exhibit for the first time and you sometimes have to persuade them a bit,” notes Thea. Johanna still remembers the exhibition of the Dinxperlose Gerrit Grievink a few years ago. “The church was packed. And you don’t often see that in a church these days,” she laughs. “It was also fun to hear people’s stories about what Gerrit had made with his carvings from a piece of tree from their garden.”
“We often have German artists too,” Thea continues, “I remember an artist who had designed a beautiful stand for reading glasses. Art combined with something practical, that’s beautiful.”

Smallest church?
Since 2013, church De Rietstap is no longer the smallest church in the Netherlands. In Kallenkote (Overijssel) a wooden church was built measuring four by six meters, so even smaller. “Not true”, responds Thea, “Our church is the smallest monumental church. And that’s it!”

Opening hours
Kerkje de Rietstap is open every Sunday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. In July and August also on Wednesdays from 2 pm to 5 pm.

To be continued

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