Hooglandse Kerk

Hooglandse Kerk is a Gothic church in Leiden dating from the fifteenth century. The brick church is dedicated to St. Pancras and today serves parishioners of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands.

Hooglandse Kerk
LocationLeiden, Netherlands
Geographic coordinates52° 9′ 29″ N, 4° 29′ 39″ E
StyleGothic architecture
Length70,7 meters
Width65,7 meters


The Bishop of Utrecht ordered the construction of a wooden chapel on December 20, 1314. By 1377 the population and economic prosperity of Leiden called for a larger structure, and construction began on the current structure. The sanctuary was finished in 1391 and the ambulatory in 1415.


The history of the Hooglandse Kerk began when the bishop of Utrecht, Gwijde of Avesnes, granted permission on 20 December 1314 for the construction of a wooden chapel on the 'Hooge Land' (High Land) as an annex of the parish church of Leiderdorp. The chapel was dedicated to the sacred Pancratius († ca 300). A few decades later, this chapel is replaced by a simple stone church with a turret, but with Leiden's strong economic growth, the need for a much larger church is already increasing quite rapidly.

Chapter Church

On October 29, 1366, the bishop of Utrecht, John of Virneburg, raised the church to chapter church. The canons that belonged to the collegiate chapter of Saint Pancras were predominantly derived from ancient families and mostly of nobility. The new status gave rise to plans for a great cross church, which must surpass the Pieterskerk in all respects. In 1377 the construction of a grand church began, starting with the choir (1391) and the ambulatory (1415). The first phase of the southern transept began with the construction of the Holy Cross Chapel (1436). The mention of the Our Lady Chapel in an agreement between the chapter and the church master's college from 1448 is the first clue for the construction of the northern transept. Between 1420 and 1436 the entrance portals would be established. The aisles were expanded between 1432 and 1456. The chapter suffered from a shortage of money, due in part to disappointing income from the individual prebends. Money deprivation, the dependence of the Leiden city of the wool trade and the high taxes imposed by Holland's warring counts also demanded their toll. Despite the continuing delay, the ambitious project continued. Around 1500, the wide transept had its current form. It is the longest gothic transept in the Netherlands with a length of 65.70 meters.


On the advocacy of Charles the Bold, Pope Paul II granted the chapter of Saint Pancras' exemption on February 24, 1470. As a result, the chapter no longer fell under the jurisdiction of the diocese of Utrecht, but under the direct authority of the pope. This seems favorable to the chapter: around 1525 the authorities in the Netherlands planned to elevate the St. Pancras church to cathedral status. Leiden would become a bishop's seat and the collegiate chapter would be elevated to a cathedral chapter. However, restless times were underway: tensions arose within the chapter and the influence of the Reformation increased. The construction of the St Pancras church would end in 1535. At the episcopal reorganization of 1559, the intended bishop's seat eventually fell to the Grote or Sint-Bavokerk in Haarlem. The extension and elevation of the nave, the stone vaults, air bows and balustrades were no longer completed. In the first half of the 16th century the church was elaborately decorated. The church has 24 altars, with a prominent place on the northeastern pillar for the altar dedicated to its patronage Saint Pancras.


During the iconoclasm of August 1566 numerous religious artifacts and archives were destroyed. From 1572 the church was left in Protestant hands, and in times of need it also served as a grain store, such as during Leiden's siege in 1574. Of the original Catholic dressings, almost nothing remains.

17th century - present

In the 17th century the Hooglandse Kerk fulfilled an important religious and social role in Leiden. From this period date the portals, the banks in the aisles, the pulpit, the organ, many grave stones and the houses on the outside of the church.

By the middle of the 19th century, the church was dilapidated, partly as a result of the explosion of a gunpowder ship in 1807. Even the demolition of the church was considered. This was not the case, and from 1840 to 1903 the church was well restored under the guidance of architects J.C. Rijk and W.C. Mulder. Part of the work was on the vault of the nave (1840) and the beautiful wooden vaults in the choir and the transept (1850) that give a good impression of the original spatial effect. In addition, the choir gate was removed from the high choir.

After the Second World War, one again decided on a major restoration, which was carried out from 1952 to 1972. Later, on a smaller scale, restoration work took place, which means that the church is in a good state today.

The Hooglandse Kerk still has a church function. The Protestant Church in the Netherlands (PKN) and the Ecumenical Leiden Students Ekklesia hold their worship every Sunday. It is also the venue of conferences, concerts and other events.

This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.