40 years Save ‘t Olde: De Rietstap church


DINXPERLO – Last year the Save ‘t Olde Foundation (BtO) celebrated its 40th anniversary. Due to corona measures, no special emphasis could be placed on it. On 27 August, it will be appropriately celebrated in the Kulturhuset. 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 property is located in the Dinxperlo industrial area, on the Meniststraat, in the direction of the Dinxperlo-west border crossing. Originally the estate was owned by the Counts of Culemborg and it was leased by Bernd te Rietstap. The former name of the de Rietstap manor was probably ‘Reestap’, meaning border. After some time, in 1874, Gerhard Hendrik te Rietstap became the owner of the estate. At 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 should be converted into a convent-cum-hospital and that a kindergarten should be established 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 fulfill one condition: a chapel had to be built with a painting depicting the crucifixion of Jesus.

Rietstap Church
There was no requirement in the will as to the size of the chapel or church to be built. Herr te Rietstap then decided to apply for permission for a small church 6.40 meters long, 4.50 meters wide and 5 meters high. The municipality gave permission 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 farm. The small church appears as a church because of 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 chapel roof has a triangular sloping extension on the other side of the tower. The church also has two pointed arched windows with cast iron decorations. The little church was never consecrated as a place of religious assembly. Over the years, the church has functioned as a pigsty, storage area and chicken coop. “I remember there were pigs and chickens,” says Johanna Hesselink, board member of the working group church de Rietstap, part of Save ‘t Olde.

Start the current function
In 1975 there was renewed attention to 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 De Rietstap estate. But what to do with the now dilapidated church? In consultation with Monumentenzorg, it was decided to move the church slightly so that the development of the industrial quarter 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 venue. Thus the result of the miser Mr. Theodore Theophille te Rietstap open to all.

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, keeps in touch 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 cleaning 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 for the German press and the two of us”, says Thea, pointing to Johanna and herself. “We also have eighteen volunteers. They take turns to attend 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’s paintings, then photographs or pictures. We often also have people who are exhibiting for the first time, and you sometimes have to persuade them a bit,’ states Thea. Johanna still remembers the exhibition of Dinxperlose Gerrit Grievink a few years ago. “The church was packed. And you don’t see that very often in a church these days,” she laughs. “It was also fun to hear people’s stories about what Gerrit had done with his carvings from a piece of wood from their garden.”
“We also often have German artists,” continues Thea, “I remember an artist who had designed a beautiful stand for reading glasses. Art combined with something practical, it’s beautiful.”

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

Opening hours
Kerkje de Rietstap is open every Sunday from 14:00 to 17:00. In July and August also on Wednesdays from 14.00 to 17.00.

To be continued

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