A piece of Scottish history in the Netherlands is under threat, now funding is set to be withdrawn for the Schotse Huizen museum in the Zeeland town of Veere.
The foundation running the museum has decided there is no option but to pull out at the beginning of next year because the government does not support their plans for independence and the town council will not guarantee the finances.
The museum’s volunteers, together with the owner of the restaurant in the basement, had drawn up a plan to turn it into an independent foundation and have been busy raising money to buy the buildings.
However, housing minister Stef Blok wants to transfer the property to the national heritage organisation (NMO), which the museum’s supporters say offers no guarantee for the future.
In addition, they say the museum and restaurant would not be able to generate all the rent for the property. Until now, the town council has subsidised the rent but the new policy rules out structural financial support.
‘We have urged the minister again and again to help us realise our plans. It seems we are going to be the victim of strict governmental rules,’ says museum spokeswoman Hanneke de Vroe. ‘But this museum is part of Veere’s history, and it would be terrible to see it go.’
The Scottish Houses were donated to the state by their last private owner, Alma Oakes, in 1949 on the condition they were used as a museum.
The building itself dates back to the 16th century, at a time when one tenth of the town was Scottish, thanks to its close ties with Culross on Scotland’s east coast.
Veere’s wealth stems from its position as a major port in the wool trade with Scotland, dating back to the 15th century. The Schotse Huizen were lived in by Scotland’s Lord Conservator who oversaw the wool trade until the end of the 18th century.
So close were the ties between the two towns that in 1444 local nobleman Wolfert VI van Borselen even married Mary Stewart, daughter of King James I of Scotland.