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Museum 'De Vier Ambachten'

The history of the museum.

An agricultural exposition in the year 1927 was the occasion to start a Historical circle, intended to further the knowledge of the history of the old "Vier Ambachten", in particular of the town of Hulst and the country around Hulst. To this end, a museum would be of great help. This museum began its activities in 1929 in an ancient classroom that was built at the side of the town hall on the marketplace. During the Second World War the association had to stop its work and only part of the room could be used, as the other part had again become part of the school. In 1953 this room became too small to protect and keep the collections of the circle. A better accomodation was the former refuge "Ten Duinen" in the Steenstraat. After the restoration of this building the museum was officially opened on the 2lst of April 1979. The museum has been named after four medieval legal districts: Boekhoute, Assenede, Axel and Hulst.

The foundation "Stichting Museum De Vier Ambachten" is now in charge of the administration of the museum collection. The intention of the circle and the foundation is to maintain and to further the knowledge of the history and the historical objects of the region. To that end, parts of this collection are exhibited permanently and temporally in variable displays which change every year. By means of guided tours people who are interested may receive more detailed knowledge of the museum and the exposed objects.

The collection

In the museum you will see all kind of objects concerning the famous history of the fox Renard. The author of this work must have lived in de surroundings of Hulst, because several places are mentioned that still exist.

You will be shown the development of Hulst as a stronghold. Until the first half of the 15th century Hulst was still an open town, though there were walls, canals and four stone bridges. In the second half of that century the town was fortified and got four gate-ways: the Hospitaal Poort, the Potter Poort; the Begijnen Poort and the Assche Poort. They were built on other locations than the present gates. In 1506 the "Bollewerckpoort" was built. The model shows how it probably was. During the siege of 1596 it was destroyed. During the 80-Years War Hulst was made a real stronghold with high ramparts, a large moat, ravelins and in the south outer canal. On the model (1980) Hulst has three gates: the Gentse Poort, the Begijnen Poort and the Dubble Poort. The whole circle of ramparts is still intact. After you visited the museum you can take a walk over this circle around the old fortified city.

Also in the museum, you have the opportunity to see a little gallery with paintings by Jan Haak (a local painter), some portraits of the Hattinga family (famous cartographers who lived in Hulst) and a painting by Cornelis de Vos - a world famous Flemish artist born in Hulst who lived and worked in Antwerp. His work can be found in great museums all over the world.

The history of the building.

The abbeys in the southern part of the Netherlands reclaimed the polders in "De Vier Ambachten" and possessed monasteries with granaries in the countryside. To better protect the brothers and monks, when war or flood threatened, some of them had built refuges in Hulst.

The monks of "Ten Duinen" (whose abbey was located in Koksijde) possessed several farms and monasteries. A very important one was the one in Kloosterzande. In the beginning they had a refuge in the Potterstraat (1353). In 1574 abbot Robert Holman bought the house of Hellin van Steenlandt in the Steenstraat and converted it into a monastic refuge.

It is probable that it was this building that was known as the count's prison "het Steen" and was at the same time the residence of the count's bailiff. The Lombards (bankers) had made it their office for several years. It has also been used as the residence of some notable families.

In 1645, after Hulst and the surroundings of Hulst were taken over by the Staten General (Holland), the building was donated to the Prince of Orange. From then till the French occupation it was called "Princenhof". Later on, the building is known to have had several designations. At last it became the residence of a physician who sold it to the administration of Hulst in 1972.

During the years 1975 - 1977 the house was restored to become a museum by the National Service of Conservations of Monuments, and in 1979 the Historical Circle could take over the building to start the Regional Museum "De Vier Ambachten" in it. The building has been bigger originally and had a wing. This is still visible in the roof construction and at the back. During the l9th century the facade was plastered in a style called "pleisterclassisme". At the time of the restoration this style was maintained.

© RvdE 2008