Remember I mentioned islands being surrounded by reclaimed land from the sea? Well, I remember last year while driving to Meppel I noticed a small village built on top of what seemed like a small hill surrounded by fields. I was immediately drawn to this village and attracted to the hamlet kind of feel it had and it’s simple architecture. I managed to find some information on this village, it in fact used to be an island. The inhabitants of this island, it’s name Schokland, were evacuated on the orders of King Willem III in 1859 after some parts of the island had vanished into the sea after major storms (see the painting above). I was intruiged by this story and attracted to the idea of abandoned islands, the moment of the evacuation suspended in time.
The simple church surrounded by small wooden houses. This was the main Protestant part of the island and largest settlement, further to the north was the Catholic enclave called Emmeloord although no houses remain there. The interior of the church is quite beautiful, the simpleness of the island folk seems to be reflected in the simpleness of the interior:
The village is very compact, infact blink and you will miss the whole place. Even although the village is surrounded by mile upon mile of farmland you can still sense that this all used to be the sea:
The cannon would alert the islanders of tidal surges.
The lighthouse and harbour wall, now in the middle of farmland.
The islanders up until the evacuation had left an isolated existance speaking a Dutch dialect called Schokker. After the evacuation most resettled in the nearby village of Vollehoeve which was on the mainland.
In 1944 the Dutch government started a program to reclaim the land surrounding the island of Schokland and the area was renamed the Noordoostpolder. At the time of the evacuation the population of Schokland was 650, today it is 5.