Visit Bergen and you can’t miss the beautiful Ruïnekerk, standing proud in its low-walled churchyard, exuding echoes of the village’s turbulent history.
Built in the 15th century to cater for a steady flow of pilgrims after the Miracle of Bergen in 1421, it was set alight by Dutch Beggars in 1574 for fear the Spanish might return to the region and occupy it. Heavy fighting during the 1799 Battle of Bergen between Anglo-Russian forces and one of Napoleon’s Batavian contingents damaged the church still further. Needless to say, the Ruïnekerk has undergone reconstruction and renovation work on many occasions, but the last major effort was completed almost 50 years ago.
On the face of it, the Ruïnekerk is an enchanting example of a North Holland church in the Gothic style. Look closer, however, and you will find that the building is in a state of dire disrepair. Annual upkeep costs average at about €40,000, but timbers are rotting and masonry work is damp, which means that time is pressing for some serious, comprehensive restoration work. The thing is, there’s no money…
Annemiek Paping of the Stichting Vrienden van de Ruïnekerk (Friends of the Ruïnekerk Foundation) warns that the structural integrity of the church may soon be in real trouble if nothing happens and has taken the initiative to raise the required cash by inviting individuals and businesses to become friends of the church. “There’s a huge hole in the budget,” she explains, “and many people think that our municipal council provides financial support, but unfortunately that’s not the case. The council doesn’t subsidise churches!”
BeautifulBergen knows that visitors of Bergen care about this icon of local cultural heritage and we therefore speak directly to you now: If you would like to help maintain the Ruïnekerk in all its glory, then please do become a Friend! You can do so for as little as €25 per year. Would you like to donate more? All the better! Your annual donation will be greatly appreciated by everyone in the village and all those similarly concerned far, far beyond.
In return, the Friends of the Ruïnekerk Foundation offers friends discounts on admission fees for certain events in the church, a regular newsletter (currently only in Dutch), as well as a very interesting book about the church, its history and its architecture. Pictured right and written by Maria Smook-Krikke and Henk van Oort, De Ruïnekerk, levend monument in Bergen NH is only available in Dutch, but it does include many pictures and illustrations that can be admired by anyone.
For further information, please send an e-mail in English, German, French or Dutch to firstname.lastname@example.org.