Something is stirring in downtown Deventer
The ancient Dutch hanseatic town of Deventer, every year hosts the wonderful Dickens Festival (Dutch: Dickens Festijn) and one of the oldest quarters of the town serves as the backdrop of the streets of London at the start of the Industrial Revolution in England.
The festival attracts people coming from all over the country, from the deep south of the province of Limburg to the far north of the provinces of Friesland and Groningen, as well as international guests from Germany, Belgium and England. They arrive by train or in busloads, and first have to wait in line, the waiting time varies from half an hour to more than 2 hours depending on how late you arrive, but even in the waiting line there is already entertainment like christmas carol singers, newspaper and hot chocolate sellers or characters from the famous books already introducing themselves.
A very strange year due to a global Covid 19 pandemic. A year in which almost all festivals in the old town of Deventer were canceled except at the very start of the year in january and february. The Dickens Festival (which would be held on 19 and 20 December) was canceled too, but …. some things were not canceled, like the beautiful Christmas lights and decorations all over town.
Here are a few impressions of ….
The Hill Quarters (Bergkwartier) decorations
Almost immediately after entering the Wallstreet, you’ll find this decoration of little shops on the your right side…
You really have to search for this small decoration, which can be found near the end of the Wallstreet on the right side if you walk towards the Church on the Hill top. You do need to look up to spot it.
A bit in the mid section of the Wallstreet on the left side is a garage door decorated with a “Geheime Tuin” (“Secret Garden“).
Dickens illustration as street art in the Wallstreet and Golstreet
Then there is the Dickens related street art, like e.g: The Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future, from A Christmas Carol… (I’ve translated the Dutch language texts above the paintings for you. They are all citations from the books).
“Who and what are you?” asked Scrooge. “I’m the ghost of a Christmas past.” “From a distant past?” Scrooge asked, examining the figure closely. “No. From your past.”
I am the spirit of the present, said the spirit. Look at me. And although the ghost had clear and gentle eyes, Scrooge was reluctant to cross his gaze. Yet he obeyed reverently. You’ve certainly not seen someone like me before, shouted the ghost.
The ghost stood among the graves and pointed at one. Scrooge approached, shivering. He followed the pointing finger with trembling knees and read on the stone of the neglected grave his own name: Ebenezer Scrooge.
In the Wallstreet, not far from the entrance is on the right side a Metal gate and a wall and behind the wall a large building which used to be a Women’s prison. Nowadays it houses the Charles Dickens Cabinet, a small but extensive museum and also the warehouse where all the costumes for the festival are kept.
“This was a prison, sir. A punishment prison? ….. Could anyone enter here? Anyone could enter, the man said emphatically. But not everyone could go out!”
Based on Charles Dickens in Little Dorrit
Through the gate a little alley leads past the museum entrance into a small backyard where you’ll find the entrance to the (Wallstreet) Tearose. You can enjoy a High tea or a plate of Haggis in this English/Scottish tearoom.
You can still find them especially in this area! Old inns! Maybe half a dozen ……………. irregular, strange old buildings, with halls, passageways, stairwells and large attics. Mysterious enough to find inspiration for a hundred ghost stories ……………
Based on Charles Dickens in The Pickwick Papers
Above a small book cellar in the Golstraat (Gol street) this painting can be found…
Christmas lights in Deventer
There are still lots of Christmas decorations and other more permanent decorations to see when walking through Deventer. It sometimes makes me dizzy seeing how much there is to spot…
It is always great fun and a perfect oportunity to get into Christmas mood when visiting the Dickens Festijn (Charles Dickens Festival) in my hometown of Deventer. Between the medieval buildings, many characters from the now famous books, like David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol, Bleak House, The Pickwick Papers, Little Dorrit or Nicolas Nickleby, come to life…
A visit to Drugstore The Clove (Drogisterij De Kruidnagel)
On top of a standard drugstore productrange (Homeopathic and Fytotherapeutic products), this drugstore also sells retro candy products like e.g. liquorice/salmiak powder (zwart-wit poeder). The shop is also beautifully decorated with green (Honeydukes-like) cupboards and Gapers (the heads of yawning people) on top of the green cupboards…
Christmas carol singers
Bill Sikes (Oliver Twist)
William “Bill” Sikes is a fictional character and a main antagonist in the 1838 novel Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. Sikes is a malicious criminal in Fagin’s gang, and a vicious robber and murderer. Throughout much of the novel Sikes is shadowed by his “bull-terrier” dog Bull’s-eye.
His girlfriend Nancy tolerates his violent behaviour, because she loves him. However, when he thinks Nancy has betrayed him, Sikes viciously murders her. After police identify him as travelling with a dog, Sikes attempts to drown Bull’s-eye to rid himself of his companion. In the end he hangs himself while trying to escape. It is left ambiguous whether or not this act was intentional.
The Queen and her Scottish guards
The Scottish Royal Guards and the bagpipers, punctually retrieve the Queen every now and then from her residence, to carry her in a sedan chair through the medieval streets…
The process of washing your laudry was quite more labor intensive then it is nowadays…
Their houses were cold and wind and moisture influenced the condition of their bones and health. Lack of money and the means to improve their situation caused them to drink and neglect the children which they needed to help them get more income and take care of them when growing old…
When they couldn’t collect enough money to buy food or booze for the parents, they were often sold to orphanages, or forced into stealing and pickpocketing which ended them being imprisoned at a very young age., growing up to become thieves like Fagin, robbers or even worse…murderers, like Bill Sikes…
The upper class
The huge gap between the living conditions and the prospects to achieve goals in life for the wealthy and for the poor, caused Charles Dickens to start writing about the social injustice he had seen, specially in London. The reason why this was worse in London the elsewhere was because here the Industrial revolution had started and it created the class of the wealthy plant owners or traders and the poor underpaid workforce.
The Hill Quarter (Bergkwartier)
Some images that reflect the mood…
Loads of actors take their roles like Scrooge, the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present & Future, Miss Havisham, Uriah Heep, Oliver Twist, Fagin, Bill Sykes, Nancy, beggars, chimney sweeps or Queen Victoria very seriously and christmas carol singers get you deeper into the christmas mood…
Christmas Carol Singers
The Dutch like to make thing “Gezellig” and therefore there are Christmas Carol Singers all over town…
Entertainment while waiting in line
Entering the Festival Quarter
Get warm inside at the (Wallstreet) Tearose
After waiting in line for quite a while, specially when it is a cold winter’s day, it is nice to first warm up a bit and it so happens that there is a very pretty location near the entrance, to do this. The (Wallstreet) Tearose. It is a beautifully furnished and decorated Scottish/English Tearoom, found at the end of a pitesque small alley and backyard behind the old Women’s Prison. Look for a large iron gate and a wall to the right of Wallstreet.
The cobbled medieval streets and alleys
Saterday was a cold winters day, sunday was slightly warmer, but there had been snowfall during the night which added a certain charm to the scenery of the festival.
Miss Havisham (Great Expectations)
……Miss Havisham’s father was a wealthy brewer and her mother died shortly after she was born. Her father later remarried and had a son, Arthur, with the household cook. Although they grew up together, Miss Havisham’s relationship with her half-brother was not harmonious. She inherited most of her father’s fortune and fell in love with a man named Compeyson, who conspired with the jealous Arthur to swindle her of her riches. Her cousin, Matthew Pocket, warned her to be careful, but she was too much in love to listen. On the wedding day, while she was dressing, Miss Havisham received a letter from Compeyson and realised he had defrauded her and she had been left at the altar.
Humiliated and heartbroken, Miss Havisham suffered a mental breakdown and remained alone in her decaying mansion Satis House – never removing her wedding dress, wearing only one shoe, leaving the wedding breakfast and cake uneaten on the table, and allowing only a few people to see her. She even had the clocks in her mansion stopped at twenty minutes to nine: the exact time when she had received Compeyson’s letter……
Trotty Veck (The Chimes)
Lady Dedlock (Bleak House)
……..Lady Dedlock has no way to know of her husband’s forgiveness or that she has been cleared of suspicion, and she wanders the country in cold weather before dying at the cemetery of her former lover, Captain Hawdon (Nemo). Esther and Bucket find her there……
Fagin (Oliver Twist)
Fagin is a fictional character and a main antagonist in Charles Dickens’ 1838 novel Oliver Twist. In the preface to the novel, he is described as a “receiver of stolen goods”. He is the leader of a group of children (the Artful Dodger and Charley Bates among them) whom he teaches to make their livings by pickpocketing and other criminal activities, in exchange for shelter….
Oliver Twist (Oliver Twist)
Based in the 1820s, the orphan, young Oliver is born in a parish workhouse in an unnamed town. His unmarried mother dies during labour. Old Sally, who was present at the birth, takes from the dying woman a locket and ring. Mr Bumble, the Beadle, names the boy Oliver Twist. Oliver is sent to an orphanage, run by Mrs. Mann, until he is nine years old, when he is returned to the workhouse….
Nancy (Oliver Twist)
Ghost of Jacob Marley (A Christmas Carol)
Ebenezer Scrooge (A Christmas Carol)
Sherlock Holmes (Not Charles Dickens, but Arthur Conan Doyle)
Queen Victoria was the ruling monarch of England and Scotland in the stories of Charles Dickens. At the festival she is guarded by Scottish guards and accompanied by Scottish bag pipers, whenever she decides to parade through the town, followed by her loyal subjects…
Charles Dickens Exposition
Broaden your knowledge of the world of Charles Dickens. Know more about his books, stories and the characters…
Chimney Sweep and House maid
Captured orphans and imprisoned pick pockets
Oliver Twist became an orphan right after birth and was put in an orphanage. To get in there you needed to have an inheritance or other money that would cover the cost for food, or you needed to work and earn money as soon as you were old enough to work. Oliver was sold to an Undertaker because he could make a very sad, grieving face. The undertaker paid the orphanage…
Very much dependant on charity of passers-by…
Shepherd and his sheep
Songs from “Oliver”, The Musical
Christmas is of course also a time of joy which combines well with singing carrols (the rich) or drinking songs (the poor). Also the beautiful songs of the famous musical Oliver (based on Dickens book Oliver Twist) fit right in ??????????
Decorations and dressed shopwindows
Christmas market in Deventer at the Brink square
Christmas lights after dark
This year the festive lighting of the town is sublime…
Visit The three Knights, THE Christmas shop of Deventer, with many typical products from England, at the Lamme van Diese Square(Lamme van Diese plein/Pontsteeg)
De 3 ridders is a small specialty shop selling all sorts of English and French delicacies, often beautifully wrapped or packaged.
Deventer was one of the premier hanseatic towns in Europe and the city now serves as a more than perfect stage for an English style Christmas Festival. Be sure to visit my beautiful hometown next year and eat roasted chestnuts, pull exploding firecrackers, see the Queen parade through the town protected by her scottish guards, drink punch and listen to christmas carol singers… Meet the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future, avoid Scrooge and watch your wallet with those darn little beggars around. The women are cleaning their laundry on the street and you might bump into mrs. Havisham or David Copperfield. What better way to start getting in the mood.
Loved the smell of homemade punch, roasted chestnuts, whipcreamed waffles, hot wine and hot chocolate ??
Christmas Carol Singers
Get some delicious punch or glühwein at this little backyard near the end of the Wallstreet. It’s entrance iis marked by a sign and it can be found on the right side of the street when facing the Church upon the Hill. Usually it is opposite the market stalls selling ham rolls and waffles with hot cherries…
The Beggars & the Drunk
Uriah Heep, impersonated at the Dickens Festival 2016 in Deventer by Jos Debeij, the Netherlands
Uriah Heep is a fictional character created by Charles Dickens in his 1850 novel David Copperfield. Heep is one of the main antagonists of the novel. His character is notable for his cloying humility, unctuousness, obsequiousness, and insincerity, making frequent references to his own “‘umbleness”. His name has become synonymous with sycophancy.
The Working Class
The sheep shepherd
The Chimney Sweeps
School boys and girls
The High Society
Officials and military
Revisiting the graveyard
The velocipede bikers
Some music to lift the spirits
Are you in for strolling through tiny alleys, finding old vintage candy, and broom stores (yes you might say getting lost in a HP movie ?) and eating and drinking in a diversity of excellent cafes, english/scottish tearooms and even a real brewery in an ancient medieval Hanseatic town, decorated with the most beautiful christmas lights? Well who isn’t? VISIT DEVENTER in the december, Christmas and Newyear weeks and you’re in for a real treat?
Mix of Literary Characters and the old medieval town
The great detective who lived in Baker street in London…
Queen Victoria in her residence
The Ghost of Jacob Marley still searching for Scrooge to warn him
The Ghosts of Christmas past and future
The Not so rich (the poor)
The Laundry women
The Chimney Sweeps
Dickens exhibition by the London branch of the Dickens Museum in the Church on the Hill
Scrooge went early to bed on Christmas eve but the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future nevertheless pay him a lifechanging visit…
Huge panoramic miniature of the holy land and some biblical events in the Church on the Hill
Christmas Carol Singers and music bands
Miniature Dollhouses in a shopping window
The christmas lights decoration in Deventer
Although there can be a long line of people waiting to enter the area of The Dickens Festival, every year about 125.000 people visit the festival and from hear say, I have to conclude they leave satisfied. Satisfied about the festival and its spectacular backdrop making you feel part of that period in English history at the start of the industrial revolution.
Lots of people decided to visit the festival…
The actors are ready for their play with the public…
Visit d’Olde Bakkerieje (The old Bakery)
Visit the Old Bakery (at the left side of the street opposite the Golstreet), nowadays an antiquities shop and get lost in the past between its many cupboards and showcases (Opposite of the street is a dependance of the shop)…
Exhibition by the London Charles Dickens Museum in the Church on the Hill…
The Medieval Streets of the Hill Quarter in the warm glow of Chistmas light
Apres Dickens: Deventer decorated with numerous Chistmas lights
2009 was a very special year, because it was the last year in the history of The Dickens Festijn, that a substantial pack of snow fell from the grey white sky. In this year the constant flow of people arriving from outside of the town suddenly stopped because cars, busses and trains could not reach it. Suddenly more people who lived in Deventer decided that now was an opportune moment to go and visit this spectacular festival and see it as it is meant to be seen. Covered in a virgin layer of thick white snow…
The old jewish synagogue, is often used for music performances. It is a very beautiful building with an awesome ceiling…
Church on the hill top
Sweeping the streets clean
And now that the dust or better the snowflakes have descended to the floor, it is maybe good to say that Deventer is a city just as interesting as in those days of the festival. .
If you dig strolling through a maze like town of narrow alleys, finding old vintage candy shops, and broom stores (yes you might say getting lost in a HP movie ?) and eating and drinking in a diversity of excellent cafes, english/scottish tearooms and even a real brewery in an ancient medieval Hanseatic town, decorated with the most beautiful christmas lights? Well who isn’t digging that? VISIT DEVENTER somewhere now or in the next year and you’ll find that it is allways worthwhile, festival or no festival?
For those of you interested in doing a great historic citywalk, look at: Deventer (the ultimate historic walk for history lovers in 4 parts)
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