Scheveningse Bosjes

If you cycle through the Scheveningse Bosjes on a nice afternoon, you probably travel along the Galgenpad (‘Gallow path’). But fortunately the time has passed when you could have had a rope around your neck in that area.

Dune area and the Bataaf

Like many parts of The Hague, the Scheveningse Bosjes (‘Scheveningen Woods’) were originally a dune area.  But since the 17th century, the area has been planted with oaks, elms, poplars and other species of trees. At the end of the 18th century, Willem Heytveldt received a permit to clear part of the dune soil. He grew potatoes, sugar beets, rye, barley, and buckwheat. Because hikers and hunters came to the area, he built a tea room next to his farm. Heytveldt was a big supporter of the Batavian Republic and was therefore also called “The Batavian farmer”. And his tea room was called “De Bataaf”, a name still in use by the local tennis club.

Scheveningse Bosjes - De Bataaf
De Bataaf

Gallows

Centuries ago, this area was not a fun place to be. Until the end of the 18th century,  gallows were to be found  in various places on the outskirts of The Hague. The bodies of criminals sentenced to death and executed by hanging were left on the gallows for a while. The idea was that visitors to The Hague could see clearly what could happen to them if they did not comply with the law. This display of convicts lasted until 1795.

Ophanging aan de galg - 17XX - Collectie Gevangenismuseum
Hanging - 17XX - Collectie Gevangenismuseum

In 2015, all cycle paths in The Hague were given names, partly to provide location information  for emergency services (police, fire brigade and ambulance). Because it was known that gallows were to be found in this area in the Middle Ages one of the cycle paths through the Scheveningse Bosjes was named “Galgenpad”.

Ver Huell beautifies the woods

In 1864 councillor Jhr. Henri Ver Huell took the initiative to turn the Scheveningse Bosjesinto a beautiful walking park. He engaged the  well-known landscape architect Zocher, who designed an attractive park with a large pond, varied plantings and winding lanes. The city thanked Ver Huell by installing a handsome marble bench in his name in the park.
There is another ornamental bench nearby, also erected as a monument. This one honours the writer and poet J.J. Cremer (1827-1880). He did not like burial places and said he did not want a monument in a cemetery. He preferred a bench in the Scheveningse Bosjes, “from which those who look for leisure can find enjoyment.”

Ver Huell Bank
Scheveningse Bosjes - Cremer Bank
Cremerbank

World War II

 In the autumn of 1942, the German occupiers began the work of making the entire coastal area of The Hague into a fortress as part of the Atlantikwall. In doing so, the Scheveningse Bosjes suffered greatly, as many trees were felled and the large pond became part of the anti-tank moat.

The Stekelduin was also excavated, so that the beautiful viewpoint De Kogelenberg was lost. Fortunately, the two bench monuments were carefully taken apart and stored. 

Scheveningse Bosjes Trappen
Steps Stekelduin
Scheveningse Bosjes - Stekelduin
Steps Stekelduin now

During the hunger winter in 1944-1945, there was not only a shortage of food, but there was also no coal. So the last trees disappeared into the stoves and heaters of cold and hungry Hagenaars.

Kerkhoflaan, met het voormalig tolhek van de Oude Scheveningseweg, rechts het gebouw van de KLM - Dienst Stadsontw. - 1945 - Coll HGA
Kerkhoflaan, with the former tolgate to Scheveningseweg, to the right former KLM building - Dienst Stadsontw. - 1945 - Coll HGA

The result: the Scheveningse Bosjes were an almost bare plain. But after the war, they were replanted quickly, with the help of, among others, school children.

Scheveningse Bosjes

The Scheveningse Bosjes feature regularly in the local news. It can be about developments in and around the area that threaten to attack the beautiful greenery. Or there is an unpleasant event,  such as a murder.

Despite all this, the Scheveningse Bosjes remain an attractive and interesting place for a walk or bike ride.

 

You see more of the many green areas of The Hague when you take one of my bike tours with family, friends or colleagues.

2 thoughts on “Scheveningse Bosjes”

  1. Katrin Barnes

    Very interesting article! We live in the area, I will look out for these monuments now! Thank you Jacqueline.

  2. Ekaterina Zinkovskaia

    Dear Jacqueline!
    Thank you ever so much for this wonderful piece of information!
    Very curious to find those benches and pay respect to those honourable men!
    Looking forward to join you for one of the tours!
    Best wishes, Katya

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