The Walburg Church of Zutphen

The Dutch architect, Dr. H. P. Berlage, made often in his spare time drawings in old cities and so in the summer of 1920 he went early in the morning to the center of Zutphen, in the Eastern part of The Netherlands. There he found the Walburg Church surrounded by white plastered houses that obstructed his view.

This State Reformed Church was built in 1200, ten years after that the city was officially recognized, named after the British missionary Walburg from Wessex, who came with Bonifacius to the Low Countries (in the eighth century). In 1430 the church was enlarged and a chapel was added in 1563 followed by a “librije” (a library with handmade books, chained on special tables).

In 1572 the city was claimed by Duke van den Bergh on behalf of the Prince of Orange. The church became Reformed. But on November 17 of the same year the son of the Spanish Duke of Alva came with his army (his name was Don Frederick) and murdered the whole population. In 1591 Prince Maurits (son of Prince William I of Orange-Nassau) came with his well-trained soldiers and forced the Spanish to surrender.

The Reformed Professor Johannes Fontanus organized a Synod in the Walburg Church in 1580. The Reformed minister Wilhelmus Baudartius (1565-1640) lived 42 years in Zutphen and helped with the translation of the Bible (Old Testament) in Dutch. In 1604, he was assisted by the Reformed theologian Sebastiaan Damman (1578-1640). In 1618, he was sent to the national Synod of Dordrecht where he was “scriba.”

In 1672 the Reformed believers had to fight with a battalion of French soldiers who wanted to return of the Roman Catholic faith in the Walburg Church. It took quite a while to get them away. ❖


J.P. de Klerk is an author and journalist from the Protestant Reformed Church of New Zealand.