A mile or so to the east of the town of Beesd lies the estate of Marienwaerdt where the van Vulpen family lived from the late sixteenth century. Marienwaerdt has a rich and interesting history. In 1129, land was granted to the Norbertine order by Alveradis, widow of Hendrick van Cuijk, for the foundation of a monastery there. The monastery acquired substantial property in the area and became very wealthy during the medieval period.
The cloister building was situated on a slightly elevated position near the River Linge and the land was often flooded so its dedication to St Mary gave rise to the name Marienwaerdt (Maria's Island). Over the centuries, substantial earthworks and dykes were formed to manage the river and many of the farm houses were built on artificial mounds (huisterpen) to raise them above the level of the water in times of flooding.
Its location near the borders of the provinces of Utrecht, Holland, Gelderland and Brabant involved the monastery in many medieval conflicts and it was damaged and plundered several times.
In 1567, the troops of Hendrick van Brederode sacked Marienwaerdt during the Dutch Revolt and this brought to an end its time as an abbey. The abbey buildings were taken down, with many bricks finding their way into buildings elsewhere.
The abbey lands and the polder works became neglected and the estate eventually came under the control of the Gelderland Provincial Authorities. By the 1580's the former abbey landholdings had been divided among several tenants, one of whom was our ancestor Dirck Joosten van Vulpen who is first recorded in 1586.
Dirck Joosten van Vulpen and his descendants are mentioned many times in the account books and rental records the Marienwaerdt Estate and the Judicial Archive of Beesd. He is known to have farmed land at Klijne Peertskamp, De Neust, De Groote Vierkant and an area adjoining the St Jansteeg.
In 1664, a map of Marienwaerdt was drawn up by the surveyor De Bajonville to promote the sale of the estate. It shows the holdings of several tenants, including the brother of Geertje, Thoenis Cornelis van Vulpen (marked D) and her uncle, Jan Dircksen van Vulpen (marked C). These are probably divisions of the larger original tenancies of Dirck Joosten Van Vulpen.
These and other tenants named on the map - Seger Vos Hendrick Jans and Peter Lamberts - appear in an entry in the Judicial Archive of Beesd of 9 August 1652
9 August 1652 (RA Beesd 201/94)
Seger Vos and Anthonis Janssen, aldermen, Anthonis Dircksen, Schrevel Jacobsen, Jan van Velpen, Peter Lambersen, Hanrick Jansen van Tussenbroeck, Andries Gijsbertsen, Gerrit Aertsen van Tussenbroeck, Jan Gijsbersen and Anthonis Cornelissen van Velpen, all farmers at Marienweerd, promise lord Diderick van Riemsdijck, major of Tiel, to pay 500 guilders with 6¼% annual interest in Tiel. Security: their persons and property.
This section of the De Bajonville map clearly shows hay barracks (hooibergen) and the farm houses belonging to the van Vulpen family(C&D) and Seger Vos (E). The large field at the top left is part of the 'Groote Vierkant' (Great Four Corners) which lies along the Kloostersteeg. North is to the left.
Kloostersteeg looking east along Kloosterweg from the entrance to the Marienwaerdt Estate. The large field on the left is the 'Groote Vierkant'
(Left) Photograph of the area showing hooibergen and buildings near the site of the former Abbey. The larger barn-type building on the right is known as the Abtsbouwing and dates from the middle ages.
It has been altered and enlarged over the years, partly with bricks from the former abbey and was certainly in existence at the time of the van Vulpen occupancy of the site. It may well be one of the buildings shown on the De Bajonville map.
Today, the Marienwaerdt Estate is a busy events and tourist centre, but has maintained its character as a working farm estate.