The Hippolytus church

history of the church

As can be read in the history department Wieringen had several churches as early as the 9th century. The documents mention a dominial farmstead (which could be considered a small village) near Alvitlo. A name that lives on today as Elft. It is unknown where this settlement was exactly. From the location of the road called Elft Alvitlo must have been somewhere between the present village centre and the Polderwaard nieuwland. It can not be ruled out that the church was here as well, perhaps even at the site of an ancient heathen cultplace. The missionaries led by Willibrord and Bonifacius were known to do this more often.

Sandstone sarcophagus in the churchtower.

The church in the middle of the village was built in the 12th century. It is thought that it was built on top of the foundation of at least one older church. The eldest but speculative, Alvitlo church must be searched elsewhere. The sarcophagus in the tower has nothing to do with that church. It is 12th / 13th century and was found near Westerland. Other stone sarcophagi have been found at the church of Hippolytushoef. These can be seen in the Zuiderzeemuseum in Enkhuizen (in the original Den Oever chapel). More on this, see the Grebbe page.
The Hippolytus church is a large, originally Roman style building out of natural stone. The building that dominates the Hippolytushoef "skyline" had many narrow escapes in the last 700 years. In 1674 the nave of the church (the middle part) collapsed in a heavy storm. Probably the building was weakened in such a way by recent changes (larger windows to increase the amount of light in the church) that its walls were blown down. In 1713 Hippolytushoef was almost completely destroyed by a fire, but the church was saved. In the late 19th century, in 1893, the choir collapsed due to neglect, stortte het koor in, ironically on the patronsaints name-day: August 13th.

The choir is / was from the 14th century and is probably built from old stones from the previous church. In any case archaeologists found remnants of an older and smaller choir they date in the 11th or 12th century in a similar shape as the reconstructed choir at the Oosterland church.

the photo shows the church's interior. We look towards the choir and see the pulpit on the right.

After the devastating collapse of the choir the first big restoration of the church started. Poor maintenance was the main cause of the disaster, so work needed to be done for the church to survive. When the restoration was finished in 1896 a commemorative plaque was placed that suggested the Vikings might have desecrated the church in the 9th century. As explained on the Viking page the plaque may be based on ancient oral tradition, but the mentioned dates are nonsense. Except for this plaque a whole number of other wooden plaques hang on the church walls summing up the names of all vicars that led the parish since the reformation. The first name is one Jeromijnus who was the first protestant clergyman until 1575.
In the 20th century all Dutch-protestant church parishes on Wieringen combined to form one parish and as it looks now it won't be long before the fusion with the traditionally more strict "reformed" (gereformeerd) church is a fact. For most people churches are no longer the House of God, but merely a beautiful old building.

Who was Hippolytus? photos

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