Sometimes your local history lesson can be found directly under your feet.
Such was the case when Little Mr and I visited Gouda to fulfil his wish to go to the Playtoday Lego shop.
Whilst he was only interested in the Lego, I cast my eye around me for the details that give a city it’s character and I didn’t have to look long.
Dotted around us and inlaid into the brickwork of this pedestrian shopping street, were some interesting round cast plaques.
I was puzzled when it became obvious that the first one had broccoli on it, then came all sorts of varieties of cabbages.
Little Mr. was impatient to leave and the plaques stretched a long way further down the street, further than I could manage, so it was a sort of “snap and go” sort of mission, but I got as many as I could in the immediate area.
There was text around some of the plaques and since they had been there along time, dirt from the street had built up, obscuring most of the images and making the text almost impossible to read. I enlarged the photographs on the computer to try and make out individual letters and words, trying to string together something that made sense. Suddenly we made out the word “Warmoesstenen” and it all started to make sense. Himself explained to me that “warremoes” was a very old fashioned Dutch term, and went and looked it up.
It turns out that the more modern word for it is “warmoes” and the text around the broccoli tells us that this ” is the term for a mash made out of vegetable scraps, usually food for prisoners.”
The other part of the word: “stenen” means stones (i.e. these inlaid plaque stones).The next text says: ” Na negeren van een bevel verstoren van de openbare orde of bedreigen van de baljuw volgde berechting” , which translates as: “After ignoring an order, disturbance of public order or threatening a baliff, the court would then pass sentance.”
Following image text: ” De uitspraak van het stedelijk gerecht leiden tot boetes, gevangenschap, verbanning of tot de galg“, which means: “The decision of the city court results in fines, imprisonment, exile / deportation or the gallows”
Around the next plaque the words are all for vegetable and cabbage types: “spruit” (sprouts), “koolrabi” (kohlrabi, a.k.a. turnip cabbage), “savooi” (savoy), “radijs” (radish), “paksoi” (bok choi), “koolraap” (swede / swedish turnip), “rammenas” (winter radish), “spitskool” (conical cabbage), “raap” (turnip / swede), “chinese kool” pronounced “shin-A’s-coal” (chinese cabbage) and “raapstelen” (turnip tops).
Then I discovered some information about who has placed these here: “De warremoesstenen zijn een schenking van het 100 jarige Goudse Vuurvast NV aan de gemente Gouda”.The “warremoes” stones are a gift from the “Gouda Vuurvast Company to the municipality of Gouda (to mark the occasion of Vuurvast’s 100 year centenary).”
(Side note from Kiwi: The Vuurvast company makes refractory materials that keeps their strength under high temperature. Their products are used in the iron, steel and glass industries to make molds and crucibles and also to make deflectors for rocket launch structures). Once I knew the name of the company who made and gifted these stones I also found the following information (links as usual at the bottom of my post.) The illustration on this stone is Vuurvast’s (literally: “fire fast”) company logo.
The sites were in Dutch so I translated for you:” Warmoes stones: Up until 1845 the landscape of the Lange Tiendeweg in Gouda was dominated by the Warmoespoort, a bridge with in-built cell space for prisoners.The bridge was named after the remains of cabbage leaves that was the prisoners food. One hundred “stepping stones” set into the Long Tiendeweg have been used to build a picture of this historical past near the center of Gouda.
The following stone appears to never have had text on it because the image runs completely off the edges. If the Vuurvast Company celebrated it’s 100th Centenary in 2009 then these have been here for seven years now, hence the build up of grime.
The next text around the sprouts consists of random words: “vlooken” (to swear), “smijten” (to chuck / to throw), “razen” (furious / rage), “spuwen” (to spit / old fashioned form of the modern word “spugen” = to spit), “schelden” (scold), “tieren” (rant).
“De cipier kreeg 35 cent per arrestant voor de voeding en genoot een inkomen van 75 guilden per jaar.” (The jailer received 35 cents per prisoner for food and enjoyed an income of 75 gulden per year).
“Brassicaceae: brassica campestris var pekinensis (kruisbloemenfamilie: Chinese kool)” (Brassicaceae: brassica campestris from pekinensis (cabbage family: Chinese cabbage)
“Bij inschrijving voor afbraak te verkoopen: de TIENDWEGSPOORT. aan het einde van den Langen Tiendeweg.” (Selling upon demolition, register at the Tiendweg gate, end of the Long Tiendeweg.) In the center it says: ” OPENBARE VERKOOPING 20 November 1854“, (PUBLIC SALE 20 November 1854)
… which makes no sense to me, especially the date! It appears then that maybe these were only meant to be temporary and that people could register to buy them later… but the date is 1854 …which makes us all just a tad late!
Here are some of the other stones (duplicate in image to the above, so that you can see the wear and tear…)