Groups of between 15 and 35 people can crown their garden visit with a lunch or tea in the grand but intimate Great Hall, which has recently been restored. A simpler location for lunch or tea is the adjoining exhibition room, which seats up to 85, in the former coach house garage.See our price list for an indication of possibilities and prices.
Victor de Stuers (1843-1916), erudite and energetic Permanent Secretary for the Arts and Sciences in the Netherlands, was responsible for building the Rijksmuseum and rescued more threatened monuments than any other individual in Dutch history. Combative by nature, with a passion and encyclopaedic knowledge of his country’s art and history, he battled with local authorities, national politicians and commercial interests to keep at bay the destruction that followed the rapid growth of industry and communications during the last quarter of the 19th century. Horrified at finding that the renaissance roodscreen of ‘s Hertogenbosch cathedral had been sold to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, de Stuers wrote an exposé of government indifference “Holland op zijn smalst” (Holland at its meanest) which resulted in the formation of a Department for the Arts and Sciences, which Victor headed from 1875. He initiated major reforms in the restoration of monuments, in public collections and libraries and in national and provincial archives and he developed the teaching of drawing in state schools. De Stuers wrote the first catalogue raisonné of the Mauritshuis and was responsible for the building of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Always the perfectionist, he oversaw every detail of the projects he put into motion. After 25 years in office, he continued the struggle for improving the arts and the protection of monuments as a member of the Dutch parliament with his unusual and very individual approach. Although respected, he was also feared by the establishment for his caustic wit as well as his pugnacious and independent approach.
Victor de Stuers was an avid collector. He assembled 17th and early 18th century elements to furnish the ‘Spanish Leather Hall’, the principal room in his house in the Hague. The ‘Spanish Leather’ comes from Malines in Belgium. The Brussels tapestry fragments are after Rubens’ painting of the Emperor Decius, which hangs in the Lichtenstein Palace in Vienna; the woodwork was brought together from different sources in the Netherlands. The fireplace has sandstone caryatids of Adam and Eve and early Delft polychrome tiles representing Fire and Water on either side. The painting above it, ‘Diana and Endymion’, is by the Neapolitan, Luca Giordano. The stained glass of the windows, damaged during the wartime occupation, has been repaired and releaded. A marble bust of Victor de Stuers watches over the room – another version is in the Rijksmuseum. Opposite are portraits cast in bronze of his father and uncle, who succeeded each other to command the army of the Dutch East Indies. As young officers they had fought on different sides at Waterloo, Victor’s father in Napoleon’s ‘Red Lancers’ of the Guard; the uncle, under the Prince of Orange, in Wellington’s army.
De Stuers -an early widower- was a doting father to his only child Alice who loved de Wiersse, where the family spent part of the summer and where, aged 17, she designed and planted the rose parterre and ‘sunk garden’.
After Victor died in 1916, Alice sold the house in the Hague to live at de Wiersse where she incorporated the furnishings of the Spanish Leather Hall in the ‘Bouwhuis’ as it is now. Between 1918 and 1928 she and her husband, W.E. Gatacre (a wounded English prisoner-of-war exchanged into the Netherlands in 1917), gave the wild garden and park their present structure.
The restoration of the Spanish Leather Hall began in 1994 with the war damaged stained-glass and the stone of the fireplace. Now, 20 years later, with the restoration of the Spanish leather, tapestries and the Lantjang model yacht, it has been completed. The Hall can now be reserved for a special homecooked lunch or lunch or tea for between 15 and 35 people after a visit to the garden.
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