History

13th Century

On the banks of what was then the Hunsinge River (Peizerdiep) lies a small settlement. Early in the 13th century the inhabitants build a stone church. The village is downstream, therefore ‘low’ (= leeg) from the neighbouring town of Hoogkerk (hoog = high). Hence the name Leegkerk. Read more about the history of Leegkerk here .

1514

In the battle against the Saxons the church comes under attack. The south wall is demolished and the arches are destroyed. The wall is rebuilt, making use of the old stones, and is given broader windows with pointed arches, typical of the late gothic style.

1595

Leegkerk shares a pastor with Hoogkerk. Both pastors live in the rectory in Leegkerk.

17th Century

The church now also functions as a school.

1641

Instead of a tower the church in Leegkerk has a steeple built in 1641, making it one of the oldest steeples in the province of Groningen.

1653

A plaque bearing the Ten Commandments hangs over the entrance to the choir, reminding churchgoers of God’s laws and that they should not take partake of the Lord’s Supper light-heartedly.

1896

The first sugar factory is opened in Hoogkerk, permanently changing the nature and appearance of the town. This attracts people from the sugar plantations of Indonesia as well as people from Holland’s southern province of Brabant, who are experienced with sugar production.

1924

 The Reverend Hacquebord falls ill. Assistant pastor Lydia Koomans, 25 years old, replaces him. She is the first female Reformed pastor in the Netherlands.
 

1925

Lydia Koomans contracts tuberculosis and takes the cure in Davos. On the 20th of May she dies in a clinic there. She is the last pastor to live in the rectory.
 

1940-1945

During the war resistance to the German occupation is relatively fierce in Leegkerk and Hoogkerk. Many resistance fighters from Hoogkerk are captured and executed.

1969

The church is in a state of disrepair. The spirit of the time is characterized by resistance and protest against authorities and organised religion, but also by innovation. A Groninger newspaper writes: ‘To passers-by it is evident from the crumbling walls that this picturesquely located house of prayer is not long for this world. Unless …’. Unless enough donors register with the hastily established Foundation for Historic Churches in Groningen. And they do! The necessary capital, ten thousand guilders, is raised for the restoration.

1970-1973

From 1970 to 1973 the church is completely restored. The roof is renewed and pile drivers are used to fortify the foundation.
 

1974-2010

After the restoration the church is managed by a local committee. It is a popular venue for small scale cultural events. Because the church is in use so often it soon requires better facilities. After more than 35 years the church is renovated again and this time its interior is refurbished.

2013

On April 7, 2013 the church in Leegkerk reopens its doors to the public. On the outside it looks as if nothing has changed, but the interior now houses a golden cube shaped structure with golden doors that divide the chancel from the nave. They were designed by Jan Verrelst of AWG Architects in Antwerp. The golden cube gives the space a wonderful atmosphere. This bold refurbishment is applauded by friend and foe and the Leegkerk venue is more popular than ever.

2014

The church in Leegkerk is rented for a variety of events, such as concerts, weddings, receptions and lectures. During the summer months (June, July and August) the church is open for visitors every Sunday afternoon. From 12 noon to 5 p.m. everyone is welcome to look around or enjoy coffee and cake and relax after a walk or a cycling trip in the countryside. On summer Sundays activities such as concerts or lectures are sometimes held in the church. See our upcoming events calendar on this website for more information.

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