Charlois, Zuid Holland, Nederland

Gramps ID P0266



The ‘Oude Kerk’ (Old Church) of Charlois

On April 14, 1462 Charles the Bold approves the transfer of the territory Charlois to five landlords. This document has been called the deed of conveyance of Charlois. Besides the name giving of the village (still to be founded) Charles also decides that there should be a church that will get the name of the holy martyr Saint Clemens – according the Roman martyr’s book he was the third successor of Saint Peter and so the third Pope. Around 100 he was thrown into the sea with an anchor around his neck by order of the emperor Trajan (A.D. 98-117) and therefore crowned as a martyr.

It is rather sure that the very first church had been completed before 1467. This because in that year Charlois already had been incorporated with the deanery of Schieland and that implied Charlois had already a pastor. Because of this it has to be assumed that a church must have been present. This church must have been a very simple building. According to some historians this church was probably replaced by a bigger one in 1511 or 1512. Whatever, one thing is for sure viz. that in the year 1567 for the first time a service in Dutch Reformed style took place. According to J.W. de Regt in his “historical and geographical description” there was a small tower on the church. After 1592 a second one was added (named the “High Tower” in the bills of the church) that was rebuilt to the present tower in 1660.

From the inscription on the tower:

Note: The next few phrases cannot be translated literally as it is written in ‘old’ Dutch. So we only give the meaning of this little rhyme.

“Doe men 1660 heeft geschreven of geseydt,
Heeft Francois van Diest de eerste steen geleid”

"Like someone in 1660 has written or said
the first stone Francois van Diest has laid"
You should gather from this the old tower has been pulled down completely and a new one was built. Above the before-mentioned lines there are in the tower the sculptured arms and names of sheriff and aldermen who took the decision to build it.

In the same year 1660 also the cruciform was built to the church. The little tower has been pulled down in 1883 and its bell was hung in the big tower with the two others.


The interior

In J.W. de Regt’s little book is also the following description of the interior dating from the year 1848.
Entering the church you can read above the entrance before the gate “Keep your foot entering the house of God” At the inside of the building you can see a rather big organ which has been offered in 1784 to the church by the governor Dirk de Man, in memory of his spouse Wilhelmina den Hertig who past away in 1782.

Right opposite the organ at the other end of the church room there is a beautiful timepiece between two nice sculptured kids above the mutual entrance (normal entrance) surrounded by ingenious gilt and painted praise work as well as various arms.

At the left side there are hanging two beautiful arms. The first one belongs to Cornelis Westduël. During his life governor of Charlois, being the last one with that name of his generation, passed away August 23, 1721. The other arm says: Lady Wilhelmina den Hertig, governor’s wife of Charlois, passed away September 21, 1782.

The pulpit in this church has been made of brown coloured oak wood and surrounded by a baptism fence on which four fine arms have been cut out. Opposite there is the governor’s pew with the arm of bliss.

All in all mister Regt had good thoughts about the church of Charlois. The author Van Ollefen expresses himself even more powerful. He speaks about a beautiful building, inside so extraordinary fine that nowhere anything can be found concerning that beating the same in beauty.

Not much was left of the above described interior. The organ, the two arms and the listings with names of the clergymen are the only subjects of the former church still to be seen in the own building nowadays. Much of the other things like e.g. family arms made of woodcarving and the arms of sheriff and aldermen have been given to the Rotterdam Museum of Antiquities (Historical Museum) of that time.

Shortly after the beginning of the years 1800 the construction of the building gave concern. The walls were leaning over and besides that the number of seats for the congregation was much too few. In order to provide for the lack of space they tried to hang seats along the walls. So the Lord of the village was seated with the municipality in one pew, slantwise attached to the wall opposite the pulpit.

There was a long period of weighing up the pros and cons before it was decided to replace the building by another one. Restoring the old building was more or less impossible in view of the bad maintenance situation. Between the years 1862 – 1866 the plans for new building started to get more real. The young clergyman of that time, Dr. A.W. Bronsveld carried through in the years 1866 – 1868 and after that the financials were all fixed up and the put out to contract took place. Because the new to build church became bigger the old church could be used every Sunday for a long period… this because they simply built the new church around the old church. On May 7, 1867 the first stone was laid by Jan de Groot. At the moment the new building had been progressed quite far the old church had to be pulled down. Till the inauguration of the new church the congregation made use of an makeshift chapel for more than a year that stood on a piece of land opposite the church. On April 19, 1868 – two months later than expected – the church was inaugurated by Dr. A.W. Bronsveld.

In the period 8 May till 22 December in 1961 the old church was restored. About this operation the opinions nowadays are still spread over strongly. From the interior – in which the pews and seats were so to say grouped around the pulpit – nothing was left.

The modernized Old church was officially opened on Friday 22 of December 1961 by rev. P. Holst and Dr. H. Schroten. In the following period the interior endured another number of changes that had to give the church room a more closed character. So the so-called liturgical centre was changed considerably and also floor heating was put in between the pews. However, the former privacy and security of the building was never got back.

Because in later years many of the buildings around the church were demolished the building got from the environs a nicer and wider view. Enclosed photo gives an impression of it.


The 'Oude Kerk' (Old Church) after 2006

In modern times the main problem for churches is the issue of becoming empty. This causes big problems for the congregation especially in the financial area. It is therefore that more and more churches choose to allow other activities in their houses of the Lord. Adjustment to a cultural centre is not only a solution but has become quite often a ‘must’. That is the same reason for the Old Church. In view of the ‘Rotterdam Growth Brilliants’ – The municipality of Rotterdam likes to realise more cultural meeting places in town – the church has been rebuilt in 2006. All pews have been removed and a complete new liturgy centre was realised. The pulpit has been replaced to the original place along the front and is removable. Because the building had been placed on the national listing of monuments everything lasted longer than expected. Besides the services in the church the building is suitable for a concert or another performance. Receptions and other festivities can take place. For these opportunities chairs and tables can be placed as requested by the hirers.


  1. Leendert van den HEUVEL [I923]
  2. Pleuntje VERSCHOOR [I8748]