History

The Church (art gallery)

GALLERY LUKISAN is located in the former protestant church behind a, by then more than 300 years older, house known as “Het Wapen van Frankrijk” (translated as the Shield of France). The house with the current address Moeregrebstraat 72, stands at the southern part of the building complex, accessible from the street at the entrance to the former church, which lies northerly behind it.

The church was originally built in 1876, but quickly turned out to become too small for the growing congregation and functioned first as a meeting hall and later as shelter for the homeless. It was abandoned and used as a storage room for potatoes and even as car dents repair garage, before Albert Weijts bought it to first use as a storage for his furniture business in 1974. The family moved in later and they greatly renovated the buildings. The family also added large windows to the East side of the church, introducing more light into the church and gave its French character. 

Sander Salim and Roel van Veggel further enhanced the beauty of the church’s interior by converting the building to an art gallery space in 2020, a year marked with the explosion of pandemic caused by the covid19 virus. This former church building is a municipal listed building (gemeentelijk monument).

At the right, the former “Lombard’s House” at Moeregrebstraat (formerly known as Lombardstreet). Drawing by Valentijn Klotz – 1672.

The House

The history of the house itself goes back as far as the predated 1492. Built on the basement old pottery “Stortepot”, the house was purchased in 1520 by Ruffijn de Tallis, a descent of moneylenders from Lombardy (now part of Italy) to establish their business. As the city Bergen op Zoom grew in importance and her port harboured goods and traders from different parts of the world, these moneylenders were essential as currency changers. The house hence got its name “Den Ouden Lombaert”. Depending on one’s interpretation, the name’s meaning ranges from bank, money-changer, moneylender, to pawnbroker. 

In the 17th century however, the city lost its competition in trade with other cities. In 1610, the moneylenders went and the enlarged house was sold to Jan Polster, a rich wine trader, who renamed it to “De Wapen van Vranckryk” (meaning the Shield of France). By then Bergen op Zoom has become a heavily fortified city and men of military importance became owners of the house. One of them was Henry de la Tremoïlle, Prince of Talmont and Duke of Thouars, who was later appointed governor of the city ’s-Hertogenbosch (Den Bosch). By 1795, the city in turn lost its military importance and the house became a Catholic school for poor children.

In 1876 the Nehemian Protestants torn down the most northern part of the house and erected a bigger church in stead. The congregation grew so fast to accommodate the church-goers, so Het Leger des Heils (the Salvation Army) used it for shelters for the homeless. Albert Weijts bought the whole complex in 1974. The family renovated the house and the church, and although they changed the layout and the interieur of the building, a lot of the old details were discovered and restored. Next to adding large windows to the church, they also demolished the derelict storeroom to create a secluded garden, now connected to the art gallery. 

Since 2019, Roel van Veggel and Sander Salim are the proud owners of the historic house. Due to its unique history the “Wapen van Frankrijk” is protected in as a national listed building (Rijksmonument).

Historic location of Gallery Lukisan in the former church behind the old “Lombard’s House”. Illustration from the map drawn by Willem Janz. Blaeu – 1562.

Historic finds