Nuenen, Netherlands


Nuenen is a town in the municipality of Nuenen, Gerwen and Nederwetten in the Dutch province of North Brabant, located in the meierij 's-Hertogenbosch. Nuenen is the largest town in the municipality and also the village where the town hall is located. The name Nuenen comes from Nuenhem, which means 'new place'.



Nuenen is located between Eindhoven and Helmond.

Nearby church villages are Gerwen, Stiphout, Mierlo, Geldrop and Nederwetten.



From prehistoric times to 1300

After the past Ice Age, the first people settled on a narrow covering sand ridge that ran parallel to the Dommel. The oldest objects found are attributed to the Late Palaeolithic Tjonger culture. This is a reindeer hunter culture.

Some objects from the Mesolithic were found in Vaarle and on the Refelingse Heide. These arrowheads date back to around 8000 BC. and came from hunters and gatherers. Gradually, agriculture from the south pushed towards less fertile areas. From this Neolithic culture, which originated around 5000 BC. fine stone axes are known in this area.

The cover sand ridges on either side of the Hooidonkse Beek turned out to be suitable for arable farming and habitation. Gerwen would eventually emerge to the north of this brook, while Nuenen would emerge to the south, initially as a collection of scattered agricultural buildings. Objects from the Bronze Age (about 1500 BC) have also been found. Several burial mounds and urn fields date from this time, which were used until the Iron Age. These phenomena indicate the existence of permanent settlements. They are considered northern offshoots of Celtic culture. From 57 BC. an increasing Romanization took place. After around AD 300 the Roman Empire continued to weaken, the area became depopulated as a result of the chaos caused by the population movements. Various archaeological finds and settlements from Roman times are known.

Gradually people settled in the area again and Christianization started, among other things from the Abbey of Sint-Truiden. This probably happened at the end of the 7th century. From 800 to 1250 habitation increases, especially in places that were inhabited much earlier.

Written sources can be found from 1107. These originated initially from the Abbey of Sint-Truiden which, via the parishes of Son and Woensel, also served those of Nuenen, Gerwen and Stiphout. Saint Clemens was venerated in the abbey mentioned above. Secular lords appropriated the property of the abbeys, but out of concern for their salvation, they also donated goods to the church. Thus Nuenen was donated to the chapter of Kortessem in 1225 by Dirk van Altena. In the 13th century, secular government probably took place from the county of Rode, whose seat must be sought in Sint-Oedenrode. Originally this was under the influence of Gelre, but it became part of the Duchy of Brabant in 1231.

On St. Barbara's Day, December 4, 1300, Duke John II of Brabant wrote a letter in which he lent the common land to the residents of Nuenen and Gerwen. This letter has been preserved. It concerned uncultivated land for common use. The current municipal forests have emerged from this. On this day, common land was also issued to other municipalities. The duke did this mainly to generate income.


From 1300 to 1648

The issue of municipal rights was the first step towards regular administration. The first alderman's bank was established between 1300 and 1346. Nuenen was a duke's village in the 14th and 15th centuries, which meant that the duke had direct influence there. The first half of the 15th century was a quiet time without war in which prosperity increased. Possibly in 1467, the construction of a church in Campine Gothic style began, on the site of a predecessor about which nothing is known. This church was located on the Old Cemetery. It was damaged by fire in 1513 and then rebuilt. In 1486 the united parish of Nuenen and Gerwen was split. Both parishes already had a church. In 1452 a monastery for Augustinian people was set up in Nuenen, which was moved after 1462 to the current location Soeterbeek, at a height near the Dommel, due to flooding. The monks were lock sisters. They practiced linen making to provide for themselves.

As the Duchy of Brabant became increasingly larger, its administration was decentralized and in Nuenen it fell under the quartermaster of Peelland.


From 1472 onwards, the Duke of Gelre invaded the area several times, and looting took place. As a result, in Nuenen and Gerwen there was a decline in prosperity, population and number of houses. In 1512, for example, the Gelderland troops caused great damage. Acts of war would ravage the area for many centuries after that. The wars with Gelre lasted until 1543 and took their toll, while the costs of the defense had to be borne by the villages. In that year Maarten van Rossum plundered the Soeterbeek monastery, but his troops were eventually defeated by Emperor Charles V.

In 1558 Nuenen became a manor. This means that the duke pledged his rights, such as hunting rights, appointment rights, and the like, for a specified period of time, as he needed money. The duke was then Philip II. The lord had a castle built in Opwetten. The Collse watermill was owned by the lords of Mierlo since 1335.

The Eighty Years' War became noticeable from 1579. When Maastricht was conquered from the rebels, they destroyed Hooionck. After that, the region was a battleground of Spanish and State troops. In 1587 Gerwen and part of Nuenen were destroyed by State troops. After that, undisciplined Spanish and State troops regularly moved through the region and plundered or had to be maintained. During the Twelve Years 'Truce there was some reconstruction, but after 1621 the battle started again, and after the Siege of' s-Hertogenbosch in 1629 a period of authority vacuum started, the Retorsie period, in which it was not clear who was in charge in the Meierij. so that looting by troops from both sides took place regularly. In 1637 a plague epidemic broke out and was transmitted by the soldiers. This did not end until the Treaty of Münster in 1648.


From 1648 to 1810

Now that Nuenen was officially Staats, the practice of Catholic worship was prohibited and the churches fell into the hands of the reformed. The Nuenen manor ceased to exist in 1659 when Nuenen became a state village, governed by the quartermaster of Peelland on behalf of the States General. Nederwetten became an independent state village. Government officials were demanded to be Protestants.

The current Nuenen village lime tree must have been planted around this time. There was some industry in the form of breweries and later also the clog-making industry developed. Gradually more trees were planted. Minerals were loam and peat. As early as 1692, there was talk of a manufacturer who bought yarns and had them processed by weavers into sheets by means of home labor. Spinning also took place in Nuenen and the water mills were used as full mills.

The Roman Catholic churches were expropriated and the monasteries were abolished, but the Soeterbeek monastery was allowed to remain until the last nun had died. However, no more novices were allowed to be hired, which still happened secretly. In 1732 this monastery was also closed and the sisters left for Deursen. Art treasures from the Nuenen monastery are still present in Deursen.

The Catholics were initially dependent on the Border Church between Maarheeze and Weert, which was not in Staats-Brabant, but in the County of Horn. Mass was allowed to be celebrated again from 1671 and the first barn church was probably established in 1695. The chapter of Kortessem still held the tithing rights of the now Protestant church, but hardly paid for the maintenance of the church. In 1779, lightning struck the church tower and part of it collapsed. In 1795 the chapter was dissolved by the French and in 1798 the church was returned to the Catholics, but in 1800 a storm destroyed the church beyond repair.

The noble landownership was partly liquidated because it was no longer profitable. The first town hall was built in 1734 in Nuenen.

The wars continued because the region was located in a buffer zone. First they had to deal with soldiers of the Bishop of Münster in 1666 and with French who expelled these troops. Between 1672 and 1678 they were French troops of Louis XIV. This was called the Dutch War. French troops arrived again during the Nine Years' War that lasted from 1688 to 1679. The French and the subsequent State troops had to be paid by the population. Then there was the War of the Spanish Succession of 1702-1713, in which the Republic fought against France and Nuenen and its environs suffered from marauding English troops. Then came the War of the Austrian Succession of 1740-1748, in which the Republic provided support to Austria and admitted troops, for which the population had to pay the bill.

In 1794 the French troops, commanded by Pichegru, reached Nuenen, where the population had to support the troops. In 1810 the Republic was incorporated into France.


From 1810 to 1944

The introduction of modern government by the French meant the creation of municipalities in the modern sense. In 1810 Nuenen and Gerwen formed a municipality, in 1821 Nederwetten was added.

The castle at Opwetten and the monastery at Soeterbeek were destroyed. In 1835 a mansion was built in Soeterbeek by the textile manufacturer family Smits van Oyen. Here a garden was laid out which is still there. The Eindhovens Kanaal has been running through the municipality since 1846. The first railway, including the Nuenen-Tongelre station in Eeneind, was opened in 1866. The first paved road, from Lieshout via Gerwen and Nuenen to Tongelre, was completed in 1872. A number of small textile factories were founded in Nuenen that were partly based on domestic labor. It is important that Reverend Begemann started a linen factory in 1845. This became a steam weaving mill in 1871, which, however, already went bankrupt in 1879. A flour mill was also built, which was put into use in 1884. A butter factory was built in 1917 and an agricultural machinery factory in 1921. In 1920 a brick factory was built in Eeneind. None of these companies still exist.

The damaged church was no longer usable for the Catholics, so they continued to use the barn church. In 1823 the ruin of the old church was demolished to restore the barn church with the stones. In 1854 the Nuenen parish joined the deanery of Eindhoven. Pastor Van Lent took the initiative to build the current Saint Clemens Church. The architect was Carl Weber and the church was consecrated in 1872. The barn church was demolished and the tower of the Old Church was also demolished in 1885. The Sint-Antonius chapel in Opwetten was abandoned. In 1887, the Saint Elisabeth asylum of the Sisters of Charity was built. The buildings in the vicinity of the new church led to a relocation of the center of Nuenen to the Park. The reformed congregation was added to that of Mierlo, where a small church was built in 1812. This was not practical, and in 1824 the little church on the Papenvoort was built in Nuenen, now known as the Van Goghkerkje. Vincent van Gogh lived in Nuenen from 1883 to 1885. Attention to his person and work did not come until 1930, while in 1932 a monument in his honor was unveiled near the lime tree.

Potato diseases led to crop failures from 1845. This led to poverty and tithe riots. The medieval tithing rights, which had been in the hands of the Domains or private persons since 1810, have been bought off.

In the first half of the twentieth century, the Nuenen population doubled. The proportion of factory workers increased. Originally a bleaching field for the monastery, the Park was embellished with a music kiosk in 1904. The Catholic presbytery was built in 1910 and the Park was created in 1920.

The occupation years during the Second World War, from 1940 to 1944, brought gradually increasing repression and resistance, and some damage from bombs and a few crashing planes. In September 1944, Operation Market Garden took place in which an emergency bridge was constructed by the Americans in Son. The Germans tried to reach this bridge, could not cross the bridge at Soeterbeek, which is therefore called Willem Hikspoorsbrug after the gardener of Soeterbeek who advised the Germans to turn around. In the end a number of British tanks were able to cross this bridge to advance. Nuenen was liberated on September 21, 1944. In this battle damage was caused and some casualties. Gerwen and Nederwetten were also liberated these days. Even after the liberation, a few German bombs fell that caused victims.


From 1944 to the present

After the Liberation, Nuenen is mainly characterized by rapid growth and the construction of many new homes. Nuenen thus became a commuter town in Eindhoven.

Due to the expansion of Nuenen, initially in a westerly direction, a need arose for a second church, the Sint-Andrieskerk, which was established in 1964 but was disposed of on July 30, 2006 due to incorrect planning and the coming secularization. The church was demolished in July 2007 for the construction of apartments. The church's bells are now serving in a newly built church in Kabanjahe in North Sumatra.

Housing construction in Nuenen-South in particular increased the population. Nuenen-Oost was also built, crossing the Hooitonkse Beek. New business parks were created, while the old industrial companies on the Berg disappeared. In 2006 plans were presented for expansion in a westerly direction, with Boord en Opwetten almost adjacent to the new building.


A series of celebrations and commemorations took place in Nuenen: the Vincent van Gogh years 1990 and 2003, 700 years of municipal rights in 2000, the 500th anniversary of the Nuenen parish in 1996 and the 350th anniversary of the reformed municipality of Nuenen in 1998. These events were accompanied by manifestations, the issue of memorial books, and the unveiling of monuments such as the statue of John II of Brabant.


Ecclesiastical History

The Catholic parish of Nuenen split from the parish of Nuenen-Gerwen in 1496. The 500th anniversary of this event was celebrated in 1996 with the publication of a commemorative book: 'Five centuries of church village Nuenen'.

In addition to the Clemenskerk, a second parish church was consecrated in 1964, the St. Andrew's Church. It was designed by Jan de Jong and is an example of the Bossche School architecture. It was a sober brick church building with fixed numerical ratios, namely 3: 4. Due to incorrect planning, in addition to the general secularization, the building was taken out of use on December 31, 2003 and in 2007 the Sint-Andrieskerk was demolished. Hugo Brouwer's triptych was moved to the church of Odiliapeel, which is also a church of the Bossche School. The tabernacle will also find a place in this church. A multifunctional building with a community school and apartments has been built on the site of the Andrieskerk.

The three parishes Nuenen, Gerwen and Nederwetten were merged on April 1, 2013 under the name Parish Heilig Kruis Nuenen.

The Nuenen Reformed Congregation was founded in 1648, at the Peace of Münster. The 350th anniversary of this event was celebrated in 1998, also with the publication of a memorial book: 'From brush to rainbow: a painting of 350 years of Protestantism in Nuenen'. The reformed community of Nuenen, together with that of Geldrop, is at the cradle of the Samen op Weg process that led to the church merger from which the PKN emerged. Since the end of 1974, a cooperation between the Reformed and the Reformed had already existed in Nuenen, then called the Reformed Congregation Nuenen (RGN) and now called the Protestant Congregation Nuenen (PGN).

Contrary to the national trend, the number of Protestants in Nuenen grew, mainly as a result of imports and the growth of the population. This led to the Van Goghkerkje becoming too small and, after several years of emergency solutions, the ecclesiastical center 'De Regenboog' was built.

Collaboration between Roman Catholics and Protestants also got off the ground early in Nuenen. Joint consultation and joint services have been held several times in Nuenen.



The old core of the village of Nuenen is formed by a triangular square, called 'De Berg', which continues to a larger triangular park, 'Het Park'. The latter was built in the nineteenth century and one can find here the music kiosk, a monument to Vincent van Gogh and a monument that commemorates the Sisters of Charity. This part of Nuenen is a protected village view.



Windmill 'De Roosdonck'. A round stone belt mill of the type 'Bovenkruier'. Built in 1884 and only completed after a tragic accident occurred: the mill collapsed during construction, resulting in a fatality. The mill is still in use every week as a flour mill. The mill has been captured on canvas seven times by Vincent van Gogh.
Opwettense watermill. Watermill in the Kleine Dommel, whose history dates back to the eleventh century. The current buildings date from 1743. The interior, including a stamping work for pressing linseed, is still there. A miller's house from the 17th or 18th century completes the picture. This undercut mill has the largest water wheel in North Brabant, with a diameter of 9.30 m. Vincent van Gogh depicted this mill repeatedly.
Hooydonk mill. Located north of Nederwetten. This water mill belonged to the Hooydonk women's monastery and takes its name from the fact that the mill was built at the highest point in the area. After the original mill was destroyed during the Eighty Years' War, the mill was rebuilt with a full mill because of the emerging textile industry.


Religious buildings

Saint Clemens Church. This Roman Catholic church of Carl Weber is located on the Park. It was built in a combination of Romanesque Revival and Gothic Revival styles in 1872. It replaced the barn church. In the characteristic octagonal tower hang some old bells, one from 1490. The interior of the church was repainted in 1942. Restorations were carried out in 1998 and in 2003. In the last year the interior was restored to its original state as much as possible . The large organ is a Smits organ.
Van Gogh church. This is a Reformed waterstaat church from 1824. The church is very picturesque with the greenery of Park Houtrijk, an old villa garden, in the background. Theo van Gogh, Vincent van Gogh's father, preached here. Vincent van Gogh has depicted this church on canvas several times. Today in use for special ceremonies and cultural events.
Ecclesiastical center 'De Regenboog'. The current Protestant church from 1999 has a glass mosaic in steel by Karel Appel, which comes from the demolished Reformed Church in Geleen East.
St. Elisabeth Monastery, built in 1887. The Sisters of Charity used to be housed here. They left the monastery in 1977. Today it is a cultural center. It contains the part of the lime tree that was sawn off in 1994.
St. Anthony's Chapel in Eeneind. This chapel from 1987 is dedicated to Saint Anthony Abbot, who is the patron saint of the militia guild in Eeneind. It replaces the chapel at Opwetten, which was built in 1450 and served until 1915. It contains a crucifix from the original chapel and a wooden statue of Antonius by Omer Gielliet from Breskens.
Crucifix in the hamlet of Boord, by Hugo Brouwer, from 1958. In the Memorial of A.M. Frenken is mentioned that a crucifix also stood here in the 16th century. This crucifix was created by the parishioners of the Sint-Clemenskerk in Nuenen and in particular by the residents of Boord, who have taken care of its maintenance from its foundation. The cross wood is made from beams of 200 years old.
Buitenplaats Soeterbeek is located on the place where there used to be a monastery. The country estate has existed since 1800. There is a park with ponds. The monastery was founded in 1448 and has been located on the grounds of Soeterbeek since 1467. The nuns had to leave Nuenen in 1732 and settled in Deursen, which at that time was outside the territory of the Republic of the United Netherlands. This monastery is also called Soeterbeek and until its closure in 1997 it still housed a number of utensils from Nuenen.

Secular buildings
Weaver's houses on the Berg in Nuenen, including the so-called Kostershuisje from 1763.
Reformed rectory (or: Domineeshuis) on the Berg in Nuenen, from 1764. In this house lived and live the Nuenen preachers, including Theo van Gogh and his son Vincent van Gogh, who had a studio here, which is still partially intact.
't Weefhuis. A former linen factory from 1888, nowadays an exhibition space for visual art.
Several historic houses and villas in the village center and its surroundings, mainly dating from the nineteenth and early twentieth century.
Some farms of the long facade type.
Old town hall on the Beekstraat, from 1734, restored in 1986 and a private house since 2012.
House Nune Ville. Built in 1874 by order of Rev. Willem Begemann. Margot Begemann lived here, who fell in love with Vincent van Gogh. Her parents did not approve of this, so she attempted suicide.

A permanent exhibition about Vincent van Gogh was housed from 1976 in the restored coach house near the town hall in Nuenen. Although Nuenen does not own any of Van Gogh's work, the place has plenty of memories of the Nuenen period of this artist. A museum called Vincentre aan de Berg in Nuenen opened in 2010.


Vincentre Exhibition about Vincent van Gogh is mainly about his life

Other sights
Lindeboom. This is a storey that is one of the oldest and thickest in the Netherlands and was planted in the seventeenth century. During a storm in 1994, some heavy branches broke off and serious infestation by the real tinder fungus was found. In December of that year, the top was sawn off, leaving a gazebo. An old village pump keeps this tree, which is on the mountain, company. Part of the hackneyed trunk is now in Cultural Center Het Klooster. In 2019, in honor of the 25th anniversary of the removal of the crown, a new lime tree was placed in the hollow of the old lime tree, to the discontent of the monument committee and the municipality.
Village farm Weverkeshof. Many dozens of volunteers work here on a park with numerous animals, where musical performances and the like are also held and where every year Sinterklaas also has his residence, with which they gained national fame, as well as with the unique lease chicken concept. However, chicken leasing was discontinued in 2008 due to increasing regulations regarding avian diseases. Every year, the 'Living Christmas Story' is played by more than 100 volunteers on the site of the Village Farm. Between 1000 and 1500 visitors come here on the Saturday before Christmas to experience the Christmas story.