Kloosterkerk, The Hague

The Kloosterkerk (or Cloister Church) is a church on the Lange Voorhout in The Hague, Netherlands. The church and its accompanying monastery were first built in 1397.[1] The church is known today as the church where Beatrix of the Netherlands occasionally attends services.

The Kloosterkerk
LocationLange Voorhout, The Hague
DenominationProtestant Church in the Netherlands
Dedication(as former Catholic church) Vincent Ferrer
Functional statusactive
Heritage designationRijksmonument status


Origins of the original monastery and church that occupied this site may be found in the Dominican Order.[1] Reforms undertaken by Raymond of Capua, brought a renewed growth to the order, and it is around this time in 1397 that a monastery and church was first built for the Dominicans in The Hague.

Court of Albrecht of Bavaria

A thriving new center of arts was established in The Hague by the Court of Albrecht of Bavaria (1336–1404) and his second wife Margaret of Cleves (ca. 1375-1412). Some known artistic products to have been produced in this period are an important illuminated manuscript, the Hours of Margaret of Cleves commissioned between 1395-1400,[2] and the visually similar Biblia pauperum. From December 1399 Dirc van Delf (ca. 1365-ca. 1404)[3] was among the court of the Duke Albrecht of Bavaria in The Hague. There he had the function of court chaplain, but he also lectured at German universities, such as Cologne and Erfurt.[4]

Early Architecture

In 1420 a fire raged through the monastery, but serious renovations are not recorded until the church's southern transept was added in the beginning of the 16th century.[1] The church was expanded around 1540 with an enlarged aisle and side chapels. The center barrel vaulted aisle is 20 meters high and 11.5 meters wide. The worship space became a pilgrimage church, where people could visit and pass through, while services were being held in the central aisle or nave. At this time the church was also dedicated to St. Vincent, a Valencian Dominican missionary who was canonized June 3, 1455 by Pope Calixtus III.

Protestant Reformation

It was stripped of Catholic decorations during the beeldenstorm (iconoclasm of 1566). A number of monks lived on for a few more years, but in 1574 the last few monks left. After being abandoned for 12 years, the church had deteriorated and some suggested to tear it down. In 1588 a cavalry company seeking shelter settled in the former church. The following year the church and choir were made into a cannon foundry for the States of Holland and West Friesland. The choir was used as a foundry and the church served as a munition store with the two walled off from each other. On November 3, 1690, the ammunition stored in the church exploded leaving only one wall of the monastery remaining.[5] The monastery then temporarily served as a hospital. In 1583 most of the monastery was demolished, though the (now Protestant) church remained.

Early Protestant Church

A part of the building became a church again in 1617 after Remonstrants had successfully "squatted" it. In 1617 it was split when a conflict over Arminianism erupted. A great debate ensued between political and religious authorities. A great debate ensued between Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange and statesman Johan van Oldenbarneveldt that resulted in the later's arrest, trial, and decapitation. In 1620 a mechanical clock was added to the tower, made by Huyck Hopcoper.[1] For the centuries to follow the church was used for Dutch reformist worship with the pulpit standing against the north wall. Throughout the 17th century, the burial of people in the church brought money and numerous hatchments (Dutch:"rouwbord"). Most walls and columns were covered with hatchments, with the graves predominantly in the choir. A lead coffin was found in the choir with the embalmed remains of the foundress of the monastery, Margaret of Cleves.

Modern architectural changes

Rosettes in the ceiling are attributed to Gerhard Jansen (1868–1956). Other furnishings include a pulpit of oak with Flemish carvings, circa 1700. Carvings on the pulpit show the Four Evangelists. Stained glass windows throughout the church are attributed to Lou Asperslagh (1893–1949). The first liturgical service of the Dutch Reformed Church was held in the Kloosterkerk in 1911 and an impending demolition avoided in 1912. For the next two years the dilapidated church building was restored. Subsequent improvements include restoration of furniture[6] brought from the former Duinoord Kloosterkerk; and the wall between the nave and choir was removed. In 1966 an organ by Danish organ builder Marcussen was installed.

Notable events

Notable Burials

Church today

Today the Kloosterkerk is home of an energetic Protestant congregation. Every last Sunday of the month a cantata service is held in collaboration with the Residential Bach Orchestra and the Residential Chamber Orchestra or the Residential Bach Choir. Soloists, choir and orchestra are conducted by Jos Vermunt. Every first, third and any fifth Wednesday of the month a lunch-time concert is given by the Stichting Kunstcentrum Kloosterkerk.


  1. Rijksmonument report
  2. today in the collection of the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, in Lisboa, Portugal, Accessed November 8, 2008
  3. See Masters of Dirc van Delf
  4. John M. Jeep, Medieval Germany: An Encyclopedia, 2001
  5. Incidentally, this wall was included in the new building of the Dutch Court of Audit.
  6. A mosaic of The Last Supper, first commissioned in 1925 was moved from the Duinoord Kloosterkerk. The altar and candlesticks were also brought from Duinoord.

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