History of our village Stolwijk

The village of Stolwijk was founded some 750
years ago. Since it's founding until now it has been a
predominantly agricultural village and the population consists
mainly of farmers. It consisted mainly of marshland with some
clay. Settlements were always founded upon these streaks of
clay and so was Stolwijk.
Most of this part of the Netherlands lies about 2 meters below 
sea level. For that reason it has often been flooded by both,
the sea as well as the waters coming down from Germany and Belgium
via the rivers Rhine and Meuse. The whole area was coverd with
trees, mostly oak, alder, elder, birch and willow. In the early
1400's the people began building dykes along the rivers Lek (part
of the river Rhine) in the South and the river IJssel in the North.
Parallel to these dykes canals were dug to drain the entire area.
 

what is a polder?

The image gives you a general impression of this system

The first farmers started with their work. They built their 
Farmhouses(look at picture)and stables for their cattle (cows and pigs).
 

traditional framhouse

  The soil of our so-called
  "polders" (areas below sea level with are 
  kept dry by using big watermills)consists 
  for about 80% out of peat with a thickness 
  of about 10 meters.
  Below this peat there is clay and sand. 
  On top of the peat there is another layer 
  of about 0.5 meter of good humus. The soil 
  is very good for growing grass for the 
  cows but in the past they also grew hemp 
  which was used for manufacturing rope and 
canvas for sails.
 
( Picture of a traditional farmhous build 1900)
Growing hemp has been abandoned for more than 80 years now (though 
smaller quantities are being cultivated elsewhere with a different 
purpose.....!)
Nowadays, practically all of the region is used for pasturing; 
the quality of the grass is so good that many farmers - or rather 
their wives - are still making the famous Gouda cheese at home "
the old-fashioned way". Most of the homemade Gouda cheese is in 
fact "Stolwijk Cheese"!
Our area covers about 10,000 Hectars (= 24,700 acres). Stolwijk 
is situated East of Rotterdam and South of Gouda (Please refer 
to the little map in my Fly fishing page).

Coat of Arms of Stolwijk

  A good example for the connection of the people 
  of Stolwijk with the dairy produce is our coat of arms 
  of the village.
  It shows three cheese with on top a pound of butter and 
  a crown.
  As far I know it is the only coat of arms with dairy 
  products on it.
 

 


map of area

last update Jan. 30.  1999.

E-Mail: mail to:abe.maaijen@maaijen.nl