Saturday, 1 September 2012

Sepia Saturday - Inside knowledge

Mist u een Nederlandse vertaling? Of kunt u het met het Engels prima af? Laat het mij weten door op dit blog een reactie te plaatsen. Dat kan, helemaal aan het eind.
As you can see in the Sepia Saturday logo at the end of this post, this weeks theme - also - has to do with a shop interior. Now, that poses a problem for me. Among my ancestors there are no shopkeepers, none that I know of at least. The man whom I consider my oldest ancestor, started as a farm hand in what is now Belgian Limburg. After that he joined the military and later, in The Hague, he had a more popular job. He was a (beer) tapper in a pub and as far as I know he was not the innkeeper. We are talking 1805 now. 
Then there was one of my great uncles. Around 1895 he was an errand boy in a pharmacy. He delivered medicines. (I don't think he would have liked being called a drug runner!) 
Ever since, most of my forbears earned their living as a civil servant, either for the municipality or for the government. So not many shop interiors there.
However, it is a small step from a shop interior to the inside of a house. And since Sepia Saturday organizer Alan is a flexible man, my pictures will show house interiors with which my ancestry can be associated.

The first picture is the interior of the house in the De Perponcherstraat 83(?) where my matrilineal grandparents lived in The Hague during the twenties of the previous century. The focus of the photographer is on my grandparents celebrating my grandfathers 25 year jubilee with his employer Eigen Hulp, a cooperative association of shops. I believe that event took place in 1926.
My grandparents Gerardus Theodorus de Langen and
Antje Doelman in approx 1926.
Looking with my today's eyes I see a number of things in this interior that I think are characteristic for the 1920's. In the red circles there are Dutch art deco patterns on earthenware. Also the vertical blue arrow points to examples of such patterns. The black cupboard is ornate with wooden decorations (blue circles) which I believe were typical for the turn of the century. On this side of the black cupboard is a fireplace. To avoid having to look at a big black hole in summer, people used a decorative shield, see the blue horizontal arrow.
The combination of my grandfathers neck tie and the heavily starched collar was commonly known here as a "father's killer", a vadermoordenaar in Dutch. In granny's dress you can already see the first signs of the charleston fashion of the thirties.

When I was about 3 years old, I vaguely remember that I, together with my mother and kid brother, stayed at a luxurious country house in a place called Laag Soeren. We are talking 1947. My most vivid memory is the availability of a tennis court on the premises. Funny, the irrelevant things a 3 year old remembers. My mother kept a few pictures of the house including a view of the inside of the living room.
The country house in Laag Soeren. The height of the windows on either
side of the front door is indicative of the presence of high ceilings.
The living room in Laag Soeren
The thing that strikes me most in this interior, is the height of the ceiling. You can't even see it! Must be more than 3 metres/10 ft! The fire place has already been modernized by installing a stove there (red arrow). But with a 10ft high ceiling additional heating is no luxury. So they put in a central heating radiator as well (blue arrow). Just after the war central heating was not unusual in industrial environments. However, in houses it was still exceptional. 
In those days the largest lamp in the room was over the table (black arrow). Certainly during the evening all activities took place there. The oak furniture is equipped with lavish ornaments (green arrow). Please also note the separate curtains for the upper windows (yellow arrow).

Unfortunately, in neither interior there is a clock visible. So I hope I did not disappoint you there. Still, I expect to have increased your inside knowledge. Before I refer you to my fellow Sepia Saturday adepts, I like to show you our previous house and its insides. We finally managed to sell it (pfft!) although not for the price mentioned... But I have to warn you, it's a bit different compared to the ones I showed you above.
For more clocks and interpretations of this week's theme,
please click here!
Update Oct. 13, 2012: A gentleman from Hoog Soeren, his name is Jan K., drew my attention to the fact that it was unlikely that the country house shown above, was situated in his village. After some further consultations and investigations, it is very probable that the house is (still!) located at 3 Badhuislaan in Laag Soeren. It is visible on Street View, be it that the black and white picture shows the rear of the house and the view below the front. Therefore, the text in this post has been corrected.


  1. I'm glad you told us your grandfather was being honored; otherwise I would have thought they were at a funeral. What a large number of floral arrangements. I trust each one had a note of congratulations. I very much enjoyed seeing the interiors of homes of old and the contrast with the new one. So where are you now that you have sold the house? (I love the colorful curtains, by the way.)

  2. @Wendy
    Yes, those stern looks, they surprised me as well. In Holland, which has a name in cut flowers, people very often give bunches of flowers on occasions like this. Unfortunately I can't read the notes.
    Glad you liked the curtains, we still use them in our present condo in Castricum, which is some 20 miles NW of Amsterdam. The previous house was in Amstelveen, in actual fact a suburb of Amsterdam.
    Thanks for stopping by!

  3. The house at Hoog Soren was impressive fom the outside as well.

  4. @Bob
    It most certainly was. Have been trying to find out whether it is still there but so far no luck (with Google).

  5. You have definitely increased my inside knowledge of Dutch houses.

  6. Thank you for taking the trouble to annotate your pictutres in this way Peter. I feel my knowledge of Dutch interiors has been increased much the same way it was by viewing Vermeer's masterpieces.

  7. My - what a lot of flowers! I enjoyed the tour of the house with very high ceilings.

  8. I love all the details - especially the clothing. Fantastic!

  9. Hi Peter ... everything is so ornate and beautiful. I enjoyed all of your pictures, and appreciate the arrows and descriptions. Can't wait to go and check out your house next.

    Kathy M.

    P.S. - Thanks for the advice; I almost stopped by for the book yesterday but didn't, THEN I came home and read your comment. I'll see if it is still there on Tuesday.

  10. @Postcardy
    What more can I wish in this life :)
    @Little Nell
    You made me blush!
    @All 3 Kathy's
    Thank you for visiting!
    @Kathy M.
    I'm certain it'll be there waiting for you!

  11. Hi, Peter --

    This is the first time I've been to a blog with the Dutch language. What fun! While the post was in English, most of the other blogger words (comments, older posts, newer posts, etc.) were in Dutch. They tested my memory of where blogger places those things (since I can't read Dutch). You can see I figured it all out.

    I love your photographs. The first looks fairly formal. I can imagine the house smelled and looked beautiful that day/evening and for the next week or so with all the flowers to enliven it.

    The second home -- wow! How good that you have both inside and outside photos. When I looked at the inside photo I was almost certain that the room went all the way to the very top set of windows that we see on the outside of the house. But then looking more closely I realized that the living room really was just one floor with very, very high ceilings. Imagine keeping a room like that warm! These days the cost would be prohibitive (at least in the U.S. and on our budget). What a lot of light the room had with those wonderful windows.

    I especially like the chair sitting in front of the fireplace. It looks very comfy.

    Thanks for sharing your photos with us.

  12. @Nancy
    Well, there must be a first time for everything. I hope that "going Dutch" now has a pleasant meaning for you :)
    Still, I thought that all these expressions that you mentioned, were translated automatically once my blog is approached by a US IP-address. But obviously that is not the case.
    I also noticed that when I look at your blog, I do not see a dot com extension but a dot nl, same as mine (nl stands for the Netherlands)
    The URL of your blog reads:
    And I don't think your blog was registered here...
    Having said all this I noticed that you found your way around here and that is good cause I wouldn't know how to change all these expressions.
    The cost of energy here is exactly the reason why ceilings today have a height of max 9ft. Electricity rates here depend on the price of oil, which seems to go up and up. I won't bother you with our price of gasoline today but I'm sure it beats what you people pay in the US. Still, I'm not complaining.
    Thanks for visiting!

  13. What an interesting post, and Alan as are the rest of us enjoy how some theme unravel in all sorts of ways. Your does not disappoint at all, especially your detail in the photo of lovely grandparents. What an amazing amount of flowers, they fill the room! A beer tapper is a new title for me, and it's very amazing that you can trace and tell about relatives from 1805! The house at Hoog Soeren is one I'd love to have! As a young child it probably looked very large to you with such tall ceilings. Thanks for a delightful post!

  14. What a grand house that is. I can imagine seeing it as a child and creating those memories.

  15. Great twist on this week's theme!

    Those are lovely photos with interesting details. You have a remarkable memory to remember that house when you were only three years old.

  16. The only houses I can remember with ceilings that high that I have been inside of were in New Orleans. There is no real need of heating so maybe there they hoped all the hot air would rise to the ceiling.

  17. Peter,

    Thanks so much for pointing out all the details. What a difference that makes! Those high ceilings are incredible Your grandparents made a very handsome couple.

    P.S. Congratulations on selling the house.

  18. I love antique interior photos, especially those of unfamiliar traditions. Seeing how our grandparents made a home, chose furnishings, enjoyed decorative art helps us understand more about their personalities than what we can see in their formal posed photographs.

    Tall ceilings were practical when lit with candles and oil lamps. I like the corner fireplace as it is uncommon in the US, as chimneys were usually central and stacked for upper floor. The roof looks made of thatch and not tile or slate as I would expect.

  19. I've always enjoyed seeing interior photos of old homes to see how people decorated and what type of furniture was popular. Your colored arrows are helpful in pointing out items of interest. Enjoyed all of the photos and the tour of your previous home. It was a lovely home, I especially liked the garden.

  20. @Karen S
    I guess a more usual name for someone tapping beer today is a bartender. But I don't think that name existed back in 1805. I believe I found his profession in a deed when he bought property in The Hague.
    And about the house in Hoog Soeren, you are right. Comparing it with my memories it looks so small now.
    @Tattered and Lost
    I even remember it was a very nice and warm summer then. Come to think of it, I may be able to verify that.
    Some people say you may remember more when under hypnosis...
    I was there a couple of times, enjoyed it! Maybe that was the influence of the French.
    Thank you, and the situation did not get any better since! So we don't complain about the yield.
    You're so right but fortunately I have known them well. Grandma looks a bit stern but that was only the outside. You couldn't wish for a friendlier granny!
    Indeed the roof was made of thatch, very decorative but a bit expensive when it comes to paying the premium for the insurance of the house. But as the Dutch saying goes: if you want to be a beauty, you have to pay for that :)
    @Queen Bee
    I have to admit that I liked the garden most because it was maintenance free. Well, almost...
    I think half the fun of joining Sepia Saturday consists of all the comments and views you are getting. I really appreciate those, thank you!

  21. Your grandparents look as though its been a long day and they just want the photograph to be over. It is unusual to have interior shots of a home at this time. What an apt word for those stiff collars, so interesting when another language comes up with an expression.

  22. @Joy
    You may very well be right but on the other hand, looking at pictures of this era and earlier, one hardly ever sees people laughing or even smiling when a picture is made. By the looks of it, having a photograph made was a serious business.
    Appreciate your visit here, thanks.

  23. Hi Peter,
    It seems you and I had similar ideas for this week's post. We both did interiors. But yours have those nifty colored arrows. I'm jealous.

  24. Hi Nancy, it is my purpose in life, making other people jealous :)
    There is this saying in Dutch: two souls, a single thought...
    In case you don't know how to put these arrows in, hover over yr picture, do a right mouse click and open your jpg, gif or whatever in Paint (if you use Windows). But I'm probably telling you old news.

  25. How interesting to see the style and interior of a Dutch house. It's quite different from a Scottish house of the same time. Love all the details, and the separate upper curtains! Jo :-)

  26. @imagespast
    As you may have seen in our previous house, things have changed in the course of say 50 years. And very often it is these little details in those pictures. E.g. there is a framed photograph on the mantelpiece of the first picture. Most likely that is either my mother or her sister. I'll show it to my mum tomorrow, see whether she still remembers.
    Thanks for visiting my blog!

  27. My attention immediately went to the clothing of your grandfather. I was impressed with his striped trousers. I liked your way to consider this theme. Thanks!

  28. This was a fun post and a good thing you pointed out various details. There was just so much to see.
    I much love that garden at the sold house.


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