November 7, 2000, has been set for the Council of State’s hearing on the City of Leiden's intention to demolish the remains of the Vrouwekerk, the medieval church that was used by the Walloons (Huguenots) after the Reformation. Through its association with the families of Philip Delano, Francis Cooke and his wife Hester Mayhew, Edward Bumpas and other Huguenots who became Pilgrims, this site symbolizes the confluence of two major streams in the history of persecution, refuge, religious freedom, and colonial migration, - the English Separatists now called the Pilgrims and the French Calvinists known as the Huguenots. In addition to the Pilgrim connections, this is the church from which numerous families emigrated to New York and Guyana in 1622-24, led by Jesse de Forest. Thus the site is important for its historical associations with the beginnings of colonial settlement in both New York and New Netherlands.
In a new development, the Council of State has informed the parties in the case that they may submit new evidence and supporting materials up to two weeks before the date of the hearing. Thus it becomes possible for me to submit individual letters expressing support for my contention that the cultural and historical value of the Vrouwekerk ruin as an important symbol of the ties between The Netherlands and America justifies a decision to prevent demolition. I can also now include a copy of the petition which many people have signed, as evidence in this case. This new develement is very encouraging and inspires hopes that the Council of State will recognize the value of preserving this ruin to commemorate an important link in the common histories of The Netherlands, Belgium, France, and America.
Please send letters of support for preserving the Vrouwekerk to me before October 15, 2000. I will then submit them to the Council of State.
My postal address is:
2311 ED Leiden