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The Ice Age


The (church) hill.
Thousands of years ago, when a large part of the country was covered with ice, the ice slowly
retreated in a northeasterly direction leaving behind the Utrecht ridge as a moraine deposited
by the thick, heavy ice.

Before 1180.

Seijst.
Mention of "Seijst" was first found in a document dating from the year 838. On March 23, 838,
Earl Rodger donated various goods to the St. Maartenskerk in Utrecht and received in return other
goods from the church, located in the area of Seijst.

The Wooden Church.
The hill became clearly delineated in the time of Christianization when a small wooden church was
erected and the hill was also used as a Christian cemetery.
Likely the hill once served as a place of justice.

               An example of a wooden church of that period with belfry. (Denmark)

The 12th century.

The Romanesque Church.
In 1180 the wooden church had to give way to a stone hall church in the Romanesque style.
A robust tower and a choir apse completed the church which was constructed, as was the practice
at the time, of tuff from the Eifel.


                                             The Romanesque Church as built in 1180

               In the choir stood the high altar, and even to this day it has not been possible
               to determine who was the patron saint. Thus, throughout the ages, the church has been
               known as the "Oude Kerk.".

              
                                                            View inside the choir of the Romanesque church of 1180

The 14th and 15th Centuries.

The Gothic choir.
In the years 1478/79 there were reports of a shrine dedicated to a certain Petronella.
During the 14th and 15th centuries the church was thoroughly renovated.
The romanesque choir was replaced by a Gothic choir with three sided apse.
Because the choir and choir roof were now higher, the church roof was also made higher and,
like the choir, received a vaulted (probably wooden) ceiling.
Because the roof was raised, the side walls of the church were strengthened with buttresses.
After the Reformation, a consistory was added to the north-west side of the church.
The high altar was discarded and a pulpit, inside a baptismal garden, was installed on the north-west wall.

The 16th and 17th Centuries.

The maintenance of the church.
From the high yearly financial statements one may infer that the church did not always remain unscathed.
The 80 year war and the French period left deep and visible marks.
There was a good reason why the tower was destroyed to a height of 6.80 meters above the floor
and subsequently rebuilt with a stone that differed from the tuff used in 1180.
An important year was 1677. Adriaan van Nassau came to Zeist and had the castle rebuilt.
His presence proved to be important for the status of the Oude Kerk.


                                                     The Romanesque church with Gothic choir



The interior.
In 1785 the church was embellished with a new brass lectern for the chancel bible.
The reader's chair was fitted with styles and arm rests for comfort, as well as a new brass lectern.
(after the reconstruction of 1945, this was donated to the church of Babylonienbroek)
A baptismal wreath was attached to the pulpit as well as a support for the hourglass.
And, for the first time, two crown lamps were hung in the church.
At the same time "fifty bench-mounted candle sconces with the necessary wick trimmers and snuffers"
were attached to the benches, namely those of the church council, the magistrate and other notables.
In 1795 the original pulpit was replaced with a new "pulpit inside the baptismal house equipped with
doors on both sides and clad with wainscotting up to above the beam."
Because the consistory became too small, a new one was constructed in the back of the choir in 1791.
Around 1800, church membership increased greatly which is why the consistory in the choir was replaced
in favour of extra seating and the old consistory came into use again.
In 1810 the church got a gallery on the tower side with room for an additional 65 seats.


Church Bible (1795) from the Oude Kerk         Interior of the church between 1821 and the demolition in 1841         Lectern Herv.Kerk Babyl.broek

The organ.
In 1821 the Oude Kerk received its first organ, built by the organ builder J.F. Friedrichs who
made use, among other things, of the organ the Joh. Baars had built in 1779 for the Walloon church in Naarden.
When completed in 1821, the organ had the following disposition:
Hoofdwerk: Prestant 8', Roerfluit 8', Octaaf 4', Nachthoorn 4', Quint 3', Octaaf 2', Cornet disc, Dulciaan 8'
Bovenwerk: Roerfluit 8', Viola di Gamba 8', Salicionaal 4', Fluit 4', Gemshoorn 2'
Pedaal: Attached
Couplers: Hoofdwerk-Bovenwerk, Pedaal-Hoofdwerk. Tremulant on the bovenwerk.
Manual Compass: C-f''', Pedal Compass: C-D'. Temperament: Equal. Pitch Level: a'=440 Hz.

1841 - 1843


                                  The height of the church hill was reduced by one meter before the church was rebuilt in 1843.

Because of lack of space and the poor state of the church, plans were made for the building
of a new church. Even the old choir was discarded and a new church was built up against the Romanesque tower.
The tower received a new, plaster exterior in the style of the new church.
The organ from 1821 was dismantled and stored in the Moravian Church.
From the former interior, the two brass lecterns, the baptismal font and
the communion service were retained and used in the new church.

The Architect Kamperdijk. Kamperdijk designed a total of two churches: Zeist Oude Kerk, 1843 and St. Nicolaaskerk in Eemnes, 1845.
Originally the nave and the chancel were plastered on the outside, but this was removed in 1920.
Half way up the height of the church there is a gallery on either side.
The nave and the chancel were separated by a panelled wall.

                                                                    The new Oude Kerk built in 1843, completely plastered


                                                                                     Plan of 1841 with bench layout from 2010

The New Organ.
With construction of the current church, it was eventually decided to also build a new organ and
in the same Gothic Revival style of the new church. Artistically this turned out to be a fortunate choice.
The organ, built by the organ builder Batz, was put into use on November 5, 1843.
In 1909, De Koff placed the bovenwerk inside a swell enclosure and replaced the Gemshorn 2' with a
Voix Celeste 8' and the Trombone 8' with a Fagot 16'.

In 1977, Verschueren restored/conserved the organ using 1843 as starting point.
Disposition:
 Hoofdwerk (C-f3)  Zwelwerk (C-f3)  Pedaal: (C-d1)  Other controls:
Prestant
Praestant
Roerfluit
Octaaf
Fluit
Quint
Octaaf
Cornet
Mixtuur
Trompet
 
16'
8'
8'
4'
4'
3' (2 2/3')
2'
5 ranks' (Disc.)
3 - 5 ranks
8' Bas/Disc
 
Vioolprestant
Holpijp
Viola di Gamba
Salicionaal
Fluit
Quint
Gemshoorn
Dulciaan
Tremulant
 
 
8'
8'
8'
4'
4'
3' (2 2/3')
2'
8'
 
 
 
Subbas
Octaafbas
Fluitbas
Octaaf
Fagot
 
 
 
 
 
 
16'
8'
8'
4'
16'
 
 
 
 
 
 
Coupler Pedaal - Hoofdwerk
Coupler Pedaal - Zwelwerk
Coupler Hoofdwerk - Zwelwerk
Ventil - Hoofdwerk
Ventil - Rugwerk
Ventil - Pedaal
 
 
 
 
 

The old organ.
After the old organ had been in storage for some time, the church council decided to sell the
organ to the organist of the Oude Kerk, Mr. H. Blanken, for the sum of 325 guilders.
In 1846 he sold the organ for 1240 guilders to the church in Wolphaartsdijk.
In 1904, the case was moved to the village church in Boven-Hardinxveld where it remains to this day.

The church restoration of 1962.
In the "spirit of the time" the church interior underwent extensive changes.
Except for the pulpit and the benches for the church council, the complete interior was removed and replaced.
The floor was replaced by the current natural stone floor and was equipped with underfloor heating.
This major operation gave archaeologists the opportunity to investigate the history of the church.
A visible example is the rediscovered tomb of Louis Adriaan van Nassau.
Tombstones from the old floor can now be seen in the four entrances.
The church interior was painted white which evokes a sense of great brightness and spaciousness.
Despite the loss of the original authentic atmosphere, this restoration was considered a great success.

                                                                    The Oude Kerk after the restorations of 1920/ 1962/ 2015

2009 - 2010

The church's most recent restoration.
The initiative to again restore the church and return the interior to its former glory,
is a fortunate and worthwhile decision.
Old colours were brought back and classic wooden benches were again constructed.
In addition to the classic brass chandeliers, contemporary lighting produces a stunning effect.
Overall, a very successful restoration.

                                                                    The interior of the restored Oude Kerk in 2010



Sources:
> The four parts of "De Oude Kerk van Zeist" door H.J. van Eekeren
> Historical research A.J. van Dijk



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