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PostPosted: Fri Aug 09, 2013 12:06 am 
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Location: In the early days of a better nation
Fears for future of historic
Dutch museum which
celebrates country's links
with Scotland By Craig McDonald | 7 Aug 2013 10:48 FOR almost 500 years it has provided a little
piece of Scotland on the north coast of
Holland. But now a museum preserving ancient links
between the two countries faces the threat of
closure. The Schotse Huizen - which means Scottish
Houses - in the town of Veere date back to a
time when a tenth of the local population were
Scots. The houses - two striking adjacent Gothic-
style buildings - were built for Scottish
merchants. Volunteers who run the museum in the
buildings, which sit on the town's quayside,
fear the worst if their plans to save it are
unsuccessful. Hanneke de Vroe, secretary to the board of
volunteers who run the museum, said: "We
are very concerned - the local people in Veere
don't like the developments either. "We just want to keep the Scottish Houses as
they are. Everything is up in the air - nobody
knows what any new owner could do with the
site. "We are busy raising money now and we
hope to be in a position to make a move in
October. "If we are not able to bring our plans to
fruition the museum may close. That is the
worst case scenario - and it would be such a
pity. We think it is a very important site. "Every year a lot of Scots visit us. We are
twinned with Culross in Fife and we even
have our own official tartan. We are very
proud of our links with Scotland." Veere's wealth and importance - and the
Scottish Houses - stem from its role as a major
port in the wool trade with Scotland. Links were strengthened in the 15th century,
when local noble Wolfert VI van Borselen
married Mary Stewart, daughter of King James
I of Scotland. The marriage is credited with further
stimulating commerce between Scotland and
the Low Countries and by 1600 hundreds of
Scots had settled in Veere. They even had a Lord Conservator, a local
director appointed by the Scots king. Scots traders enjoyed many privileges in the
port town, including use of the quay for
unloading their goods, exemption from wine
and beer tax and use of part of the local church
for their services. One of the houses, named Het Lammetje,
meaning the little lamb, dates from 1539. The
other is called De Struys, the ostrich, and
dates from 1561. The houses functioned as offices, warehouses
and living quarters. Napoleonic rule of the
Netherlands brought the lucrative period to an
end and the buildings fell into disrepair. The museum was established in the historic
houses in 1950 to give an impression of the
life of the rich inhabitants of Veere's past. Hanneke said: "At the end of the 19th century
they were in very bad condition. "But they were developed by a businessman
and art collector, Albert Ochs, who bought one
of the houses and turned his home into a
meeting place for local and passing artists. "They were given to the Dutch government on
the condition that they must stay a museum,
so the government became the legal owners." However, the Dutch coalition government is
in the midst of massive cuts in public
spending - with the arts budget slashed by a
quarter from this year. The volunteers who run the Scottish Houses
have launched a bid to buy the site - but need
to raise 100,000 Euros (around £85,000) to get
their plans off the ground. They have launched a scheme where
supporters can buy building stones costing
from £8.50 to donate cash. Hanneke said: "The Scottish Houses are on a
list of 34 national heritage sites the
government wants to dispose of to save
money. "To make things worse, the local municipality
of Veere also decided to reduce its culture
budget for the same reason. "We are the first of the sites in Holland to take
action to try to do something about the
situation. We hope we can be successful and
save these fantastic Scottish houses." *For more information on the museum visit www.schotsehuizen.nl and click on the Union flag for English language version.

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"The thistle rises and forever will" - MacDiarmid

NB - I am not the same person as the poster "Scottish republic".


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