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Paleis Huis ten Bosch

 

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History of the Paleis Huis Ten Bosch

"Huis ten Bosch" means "House in the Forest"

Huis ten Bosch Palace began its life as the Sael van Oranje (Hall of the Oranges), a summer residence for Stadholder Frederik Hendrik and his wife, Amalia van Solms. It was Princess Amalia herself who was the driving force behind its construction.

On 2 September 1645, the corner stone was laid by Elizabeth, the former Queen of Bohemia. The palace was designed by Pieter Post, an architect who had also had a hand in the Mauritshuis, the assembly hall of the States of Holland (now the assembly hall of the Senate) and the Oude Hof (now Noordeinde Palace).

When Frederik Hendrik died in 1647, his widow converted Huis ten Bosch from a summer residence to a memorial to her late husband. Under the supervision of the painter and architect Jacob van Campen, the central chamber – known as the Oranjezaal – was dedicated to the Prince’s life and work. The largest and most striking painting in the room, a 1652 work by Jacob Jordaens, depicts Frederik Hendrik triumphant.

Between 1675 and 1795, the palace had four owners (Albertine Agnes, Prince Willim III, Prince William IV). It was renovated under its last owner, Prince William IV.

During the period of the French occupation (1795-1813), the palace became the property of the nation. Louis Bonaparte changed the interior, bringing the Empire style to the Netherlands.

The building then served as a museum until 1805, when Rutger-Jan Schimmelpennick, appointed grand pensionary by Napoleon, moved in. Fifteen months later, Napoleon’s brother Louis Bonaparte, elevated to the throne of Holland, took up residence there. In 1807, Louis moved to Utrecht, where he lived until he could take possession of Amsterdam town hall on the Dam, which had been refurbished as a palace. Although he occupied it for only a short time, Louis Bonaparte left his mark on both the interior and exterior of Huis ten Bosch. The expansions and renovations he initiated introduced the Empire style into the Netherlands, and many pieces of Empire furniture are still in use in the palace.

After Willem I was proclaimed King of the Netherlands in 1815, members of the royal family often lived in Huis ten Bosch, among them King Willem I himself and his wife, Queen Wilhelmina.

Later, it became the summer home of Queen Sophie, the first wife of Willem III. During the First World War, Queen Wilhelmina exchanged her summer residence at Het Loo near Apeldoorn for Huis ten Bosch. There she remained until she, Princess Juliana and the latter’s children had to flee to England after the German invasion in May 1940.

Huis ten Bosch suffered serious damage during the Second World War (1940-1945). At the end of the war, though the art treasures had been removed and taken to a safe place, the walls, ceilings and floors had been damaged by bullets, shells and shrapnel.

Between 1950 and 1981, there were two rounds of restoration. Following three years of restoration work, the Oranjezaal was again opened for royal functions. On 10 August 1981, Queen Beatrix, Prince Claus and their children took up residence in Huis ten Bosch. It is still the home of the Queen, and her private apartments are in the Wassenaar wing. The main building is sometimes used for public functions and entertaining, while the Hague wing contains guest quarters.

 

 


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