A Zoover award in three years
Only a few years ago, in 2010, the barn of the Stelhoeve went up in flames. Together with Roos & Ros architects, we made a nice plan with the current beautiful barn as a result. Construction company Van de Linde from Goes has completely rebuilt the barn. The result is something special!
In May 2011, the Stelhoeve opened its doors. On a location by the Oosterschelde estuary, near the village Wemeldinge, 18 holiday cottages, a group accommodation, and a meeting accommodation were built. Now, 3 years later, the park is highly rated by Zoover, currently with an 8.5 out of 10! The park received the award "Zoover Highly Recommended" in 2013. And at the beginning of 2014, we were fortunate enough to receive it again.
The Stelhoeve is a National Monument in Zeeland, the first foundations date back to 1540. It is now a renovated old Zeelandic farm, a homestead. The grounds are surrounded by greenery. Water birds find their home in the creek near the park. There is a wade and an old drinking well at the Stelhoeve. The combination of the Oosterschelde, the authentic farm, and nature make for a wonderful, peaceful stay.
Lady Maria Coomans
Maria Coomans, christened in Goes on December 19, 1717, was the Lady of Wemeldinge from 1772 until her death on August 8, 1791. She had her home in the Stelhoeve homestead. She inherited this title with all the rights and obligations associated with it from her brother Jacobus Coomans, who died on December 16, 1771 at the age of 61. Jacobus succeeded his deceased brother Pieter in 1758. This Pieter Coomans was married in 1739 to the 22-year-old Isabella Westerwijk, widow of Johan Rontvis, who was an alderman of Goes and the Lord of Wemeldinge for many years. Lady Maria Coomans wanted to prove herself more worthy of her title, and the rights and obligations attached to it, than even her brothers and predecessors. She was generous and favored both the village and church of Wemeldinge. This warm bond may have been reinforced by the close relations that the Lady maintained with Reverend Jan te Water, who served the municipality of Wemeldinge from 1765-1793.
In 1787, Maria Coomans made a will that took effect after her death in 1791, which had interesting consequences for the Wemelding community in several respects. Not only the 'Poor of Wemeldinge' (which was the administration for the poor at the time) was bequeathed a large amount by the Lady, but this also applied to the church of Wemeldinge. In the 32nd bequest of the will, the church was allocated: an amount in cash amounting to seven hundred Flemish pounds, and furthermore the homestead Stelhoeve with the accompanying 107 measured soil. The amount of money was meant to pay off the old debts of the church administration. The lease yield of the Stelhoeve gave the church the opportunity to maintain the church building for years to come. However, two remarkable conditions were attached to the bequest. Firstly, the homestead Stelhoeve was never to be sold. Secondly, an "organ at the service of the hymn in the aforementioned church in Wemeldinge at the expense of the church would not be allowed". If these provisions were not met at any time, the entire inheritance would go to the "Poor of Wemeldinge".
The reasoning behind the first provision seems to be fairly easy to understand. The Lady would have wanted to protect the church administration from short-sighted policies where the farm would be sold for occasional expenses. In addition, she probably would not have wanted that the heritage would go into 'strange hands'. The considerations that led to the organ clause are less easy to guess. A number of assumptions are suggested by historians. This could once again be an indication of the Lady's desire to never have her possessions pass into strange hands. Other possible explanations have more to do with organ and congregation vocals themselves. In 1773, new psalms were introduced and many church organs were placed in churches during this period, also in Goes and surroundings, to support congregational singing. Some suggest that Maria Coomans had a conservative belief system and wanted to counter these new developments. More likely, however, given her social and religious context in her hometown Goes, is the hypothesis that she had once offered an organ to the church of Wemeldinge during her lifetime, but that the church board itself refused this, on the basis of conservative opinions.
In later years, especially in the first half of the 20th century, there had been many discussions within the municipality, church council, and the church custodians, their lawyers and other consulted experts, regarding an attempt by a number of Wemeldinger villagers to finally have an organ installed in the church. These attempts never got anywhere due to the opinion of the church custodians that such a decision would seriously jeopardize the municipality's financial position. In the fifties of the 20th century, the then preacher Reverend J.G. of Yarrow managed to achieve a breakthrough in the matter together with the church council. A Wemeldinge Organ Foundation, which operates independently from the church, was established. This foundation bought the Van Dam organ, which was damaged in the 1953 storm disaster, of the Reformed church of Kruiningen. In the first months of 1958, the church custodian unlocked the church doors and some time later, without any further interference from the church, an organ was placed in the church of Wemeldinge.
The last of the issues related to the testament of Maria Coomans came to a close 40 years later in 1997. The Stelhoeve farm was gradually becoming a burden for the church custody, which at the time was called the Church Supervision Management Commission as a result of further cooperation between various Dutch protestant churches. The necessary maintenance gradually cost the church considerably more money than the lease yields brought in. Once again, an expert was asked if it was possible to sell the farm. Prof. dr. Mr. J. Th. de Smidt, emeritus professor of Old Dutch law at the University of Leiden and the University of Amsterdam, was asked for his advice. The church was amazed but also relieved when his advice, drawn up on 15 September 1997, showed that the specific restrictions on the objection or alienation of the bequeathed real estate have ceased enter into force by a decree of 24 January 1812. Stelhoeve was then sold on 31 March 1998.
Maria Coomans is buried in the Maria Magdalena church in Goes. To this day, according to yet another provision in her will, all residents of Wemeldinge must have free access to the church to visit her grave. But perhaps this provision is also no longer in effect by the Decree of 1812.
G.J. Lepoeter, Kerk in Perspectief, verleden en heden van de Sint Maartenskerk te Wemeldinge, Kapelle/Wemeldinge 1989.
G.J. Lepoeter, Maria Coomans, ambachtsvrouwe van Wemeldinge, Goes, De Koperen Tuin, 1998.