A THOUSAND YEARS OLD
The church in Oosterbeek - the oldest in the Netherlands
Qld churches are the symbol of faith en expectation. This definitely goes for small hall-churches which were built with simple means in several places, among others along the edge of the Veluwe. They were close to the river used as ancient connections and carriage ways. Building material chiefly consisted of tuif, which in some cases originated from remainders of Roman settlements and temples.
Before 1944 the church used to be different in shape en size, and it did not seem worth mentioning.The destruction during the Second World War was the cause that the genera[ attention was focussed on this unique building.
In the spring of 1946 the department of Archaelogical Soil Research carried Out extensive excavations, showing that by Dutch standards they were dealing with a highly exceptional church.
In the northern wall a cirçular window was discovered, a so-called hagioscope or leper hole looking onto the altars which had been placed in a tri-apsided chancel. The foundations of these wall of the hall church had to be demolished.
About halfway the 19th century a northern en southern transept in neo-Gothic style with cast iron windows were added to the church in order to get more space. These wings were demolished during the post-war restoration and the present Romanesque chancel was erected on the foundations of the one dating back to the 12th century.
During the battie of Arnhem, in september 1944, this church was one of the last strongholds of the Ai rborne troops. In the former vicarage next to the church a large number of wounded were tended in difficult conditions. During the night of september 25/26 some 2.400 British and Polish soldiers were evacuated from the area behind the church across the river to their own lines.
Each and every year many veterans come to this area with their relatives. Over the year many presentations were made to the church. In the morning of Memorial Sunday, before the Memorial Service is held in the Airborne Cemetery, there is an Anglican service held in this church.
It is not just the age of the church, but also the events of september 1994, that make people ponder a while on the happy and the sad times this ancient church has seen in the more than athousand years.