Houses for poor women


In 1755 the Dordrecht shipowner and merchant Gijsbert de Lengh ordered the foundation of a hofje, a courtyard with houses for poor women above fifty who could live there for free. Sadly he died the same year, but regents executed his project (hence the name ‘Regentenhofje’) and the next year the first inhabitants moved in.

On the photo above you see the main entrance built of natural stone with rococo decorations. This court contains the sixteen original houses situated around a square garden with a sundial (see below). The other three courts behind this one are later extensions from the 19th and 20th century.

Nowadays the inhabitants still are exclusively women. Although they pay a small rent now, many of the centuries old rules continue to be valid. Besides this Regentenhofje, Dordrecht boasts more lovely courtyards that I hope to show you later on.

My contribution to this week’s Thursday Doors. Visit this site and have more fun with other interesting doors.

14 thoughts on “Houses for poor women

  1. Oh yes, and the women looked after each other, as the courtyard promoted the community feeling. Today experiments are being done to get back these small societies. Not (yet) on a large scale however, just private initiatives.


    • Thank you, Janet. In Holland we have a long tradition of relief work. In the days of Lenghen it formed a part of the duties felt by Protestants as well as Catholics. Nevertheless, the women of over fifty (considered old in those days) needed some special care, so he did a great job.

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  2. So glad you did wait to take the shot, and what a fascinating history of what in England we would call ‘almshouses’. We have quite a few in Winchester, mostly set up by Protestants. Thank you so much for sharing the link via today’s Thursday Doors, so pleased to have had the chance to scroll back into your archives 🙂


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