Although the Netherlands is fairly small, it has an abundance of cute little towns with a rich history worth exploring. I went to visit Baarn, a small town in the province of Utrecht, together with my friend Macha who grew up in the area. We found a tiny cemetery with a locked fence, which added extra excitement to our trip. The key was available at the local police station, so we picked it up and opened the gates to this tiny old graveyard, in Dutch literally named “oude begraafplaats”. Let’s explore this secret cemetery in Baarn!
This graveyard in the small town of Baarn is from 1829 and officially turned into a monument in 2007. The last burial took place in 1975 and in 1987 the cemetery closed down. Some parts of the cemetery have been demolished throughout the years, like part of the surrounding brick wall and the house of the caretaker. Back in the day, the cemetery even held a tiny morgue.
Baarn is a small town which has around 25000 residents. The royal family owns some property in and around Baarn, including Soestdijk Palace, where Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard lived until their deaths in 2004, and our current King Willem Alexander attended school in Baarn. Non of the members of the royal family are buried in Baarn though, as they all find their final resting place in the royal crypts in Delft.
The first grave that really caught our attention here in Baarn was that of Johann Heinrich Müller, who died in 1915, and his wife Elisabeth Jacoba van Lunteren who died in 1921. Johan was an architect and their headstone shows symbols from freemasonry. The inscription reads “Heb elkander lief” which means “Love one another”.
More than 4500 people have been buried at this cemetery, but a lot of grave monuments who were in a bad condition have been removed throughout the years, which means there are a lot more bodies buried here than the headstones now tell us.
Another interesting grave is the tomb of Johan Frederik Hendrik Guimond de Briquemond, who was the intendant at Soestdijk Palace.
The spring flowers were in full bloom at this “oude begraafplaats”, giving the cemetery a vibrant glow.
Then we have the grave of Teunis Pluim, who was a historian and head teacher of the Westerschool, born in 1864. He wrote an important book about the history of Baarn and made a big social impact during his lifetime through his work and community services. His headstone was gifted by Queen Emma and residents of Baarn. To this day people still come together at his grave on his death day, January 8th, to hold a memorial for this special man.
Me and Macha spent a while exploring all the graves and taking pictures of each other, as true graveyardgirls do. The cemetery of Baarn is a lovely hidden gem. Nowadays volunteers keep the graves tidy and some of the headstones are currently being restored. There has been talk about demolishing the entire cemetery to make way for new apartments, but now that the oude begraafplaats is an official monument, this won’t happen any time soon, and the old inhabitants of Baarn can rest here in peace.