About this location
This museum of local history is a good introduction to town’s distinctive features, the Land van Hulst and its history. Within the museum the collections are grouped into a number of different sections.
Archaeology and household pottery
Archaeological finds in the basement of the museum dating from the 13th to the 18th centuries originate from the town centre of Hulst and the banks of the Westerschelde estuary. The collection includes some very striking pieces, such as a pilgrim’s insignia, an old sort of ice-skate called glissen, and household objects which were found on the site of the former monastery. One display cabinet is filled with findings from prehistoric times, in particular, from the oldest settlement in Zeeland: Nieuw-Namen.
In Nieuw-Namen implements for cutting flints have been discovered which shows that people lived here during the Stone Age some 10,000 years ago.
Besides the temporary exhibitions there is a display of local costumes on the ground floor. Here the emphasis is on the outfits worn in the Land of Hulst, the Land of Axel and the Land of Cadzand.
The exhibition includes a complete outfit once worn by the women of Hulst, including jewellery. Unfortunately there is little known about the men’s costumes from Hulst at that time.
However, the museum does have complete outfits worn by men and women and even children from the Land of Axel.
The collection of children’s clothes and women’s hats is particularly impressive. A few display cabinets are filled with jewellery, accessories and utensils such as fans and tinderboxes.
A video corner is located on the first floor of the museum. Here pictures tell the story about the origins of Hulst and its surroundings.
Reynard the Fox
“It was on a day at Whitsuntide….”, is the start of the medieval animal epic of Reynard the Fox that was written in the 13th century. In its genre, it is one of the most significant pieces of Dutch and even West-European literature. The story is about the cunning fox Reynard, whose tricks undermine the norms and values of that period. Since 1928 there has been talk about the relationship between Hulst and the Reynard story and Hulst has since been declared “Reynaerstad” (Reynard town), partly due to the mention of Hulsterloo (Nieuw-Namen) and Absdale in the Reynard story, which are neighbourhoods in the current parish of Hulst. For this very reason, the most famous inhabitant of Hulst has pride of place in the museum in his own special corner on the first floor of the museum.
Further along the first floor attention is paid to the city and craft guilds. Items from the guilds include banners, bows, medals and a crossbow. Highlights in this collection are the ivory wrist guards from the seventeenth century.
In the second room on the first floor, the emphasis is on the development and history of Hulst as a fortified town. Central to the exhibition are models of the town from 1980 and the scale model of the Bollewerckpoort gate.
The Bollewerckpoort gate is also known as Dobbele Poort or Keldermanspoort gate.
This gate was built at the beginning of the 16th century at the point where the Hulst harbour (the connection with the Westerschelde estuary) reached the town.
The double function of the gate (for land and water) can be seen clearly on the model. Boats could sail in and out of the harbour through the water gate while two bridges linked the town to the country roads. In that time this was an impressive technical achievement!
During the siege of Hulst in 1596 by Albertus of Austria, the Keldermanspoort gate was largely destroyed. The remains of the gate were covered in earth in 1618 and it wasn’t until 1957 that the remains were excavated.
Maps from the collection held by the Oudheidkundige Kring (Antiquarian Circle) complete the display about the development of the fortified town of Hulst. These are original maps drawn by hand by well-known map-makers such as A. Mair, J. van Deventer, W. Blaeu, J. de Busschere, N. Visscher and the Hattinga family.
Industry and folklore
On the top level of the museum, the first thing you notice is the construction of the roof. It is an impressive piece of craftsmanship and is filled with objects which are associated with the “work and life in the Land of Hulst”. These include tools used by people working the land, such as ploughs. You can also admire tools used by craftsmen such as the harness maker, carpenter, brush maker, beekeeper and baker. Finally, you’ll also find household items like waffle irons, bean slicers, a coffee bean roaster, etc.
The old-fashioned school items on the top floor of the museum are reminders of days gone by.
The collection of stuffed birds has found a very appropriate place on the top floor: the feeling of freedom that birds no doubt feel when they glide through the air can also be partially experienced here. To finish off your tour of the museum, go up the stairs of the small tower and enjoy the amazing views looking out over Hulst!
Behind the museum you’ll discover a small (herb) garden, which on a lovely summer’s day will transport you back in time. In this pretty garden you’ll come across a so-called a travalje or trave, which would have been used by the farrier or blacksmith to shoe the horses and a forge.
Clog maker and flax processor
In the garden there is a separate building that houses a fully-equipped clog factory and flax processing facilities.
Clinge, a village belonging to the parish of Hulst, was once known for its clog factories. The nearby village of Heikant on the other hand, was well-known for its flax processing. Here, you’ll find two monuments to the hey-days of the flax industry as a reminder of how many people earned their living this way.
In short, a visit to the museum of local history gives you a very good insight into a number of distinctive aspects about the town of Hulst, the Land of Hulst and its history.