Peter Roeleveld


During the First World War airships dropped bombs over London and Antwerp. On a Sunday in 1929, high on a dune, Teuntje waved to Graf Zeppelin. The huge aluminum gleaming airship passed directly overhead. Fortunately without bombs.

Teuntje or Teunis Cornelis Roeleveld (420-1936), is the father of Peter Roeleveld. Peter has written down Teunis’ story about that memorable day when the zeppelin passed by.

Teuntje had a tense feeling in his stomach all morning. The weekly walk from his parental home on the IJmuidenstraat 11 to the Maranatha district building he only had 420 steps taken .

Graf Zeppelin

The evening before Teuntje’s father had read from the newspaper during dinner. The ‘Graf Zeppelin’, a huge airship in the shape of a very large cigar, would make a promotional tour over the Netherlands. The ship with twenty-nine passengers on board, three of them residents of The Hague, would also visit The Hague and Scheveningen. Teuntje had asked how big such a ship is. His father had thought for a moment how he could best interpret this. “Think of our house, roof and all. Put another one on top. Place the same pile next to it. Then do this over the entire length of our street. Then everything still fits easily in the cigar.’ Teuntje had listened to his father in amazement.

Furthermore, his father had also told something about the war that had ended just two years before Teuntje’s birth. In that war, the Germans used the Zeppelin to drop bombs on London and Antwerp. Tens of thousands of kilograms of bombs. Such a Zeppelin would therefore hang above Scheveningen. To reassure him, his father had said that this Zeppelin would not drop bombs this time, but mail. It was mainly the story about the bombs that made Teuntje nervous and he was glad that three residents of The Hague were on board. They would never allow the Zeppelin to bomb them!

A dune full of people

In the Maranatha Teuntje had sat down on the bench next to his best friend Arie. They chatted about what they had heard about the airship. Teuntje told his friend that his older brother would warn him when the time came. Pastor Jacobs had meanwhile begun his sermon.

Finally it was time. The door of the hall opened a crack. Teuntje’s brother stuck his head through it and shouted very loudly ‘The Zeppelin is coming’. Before the minister could say anything else, all the children rushed outside.

Together with his brother and friend, Teuntje ran from the Maranatha to a high dune next to the lighthouse in ten minutes. They were not alone; as far as the eye could see this, and the surrounding dune slopes, were full of people. His brother had copied the route of the Zeppelin from the newspaper last night. He said the airship was supposed to have taken off from Friedrichshafen Airport around midnight yesterday. According to the schedule, the Zeppelin had probably reached Groningen around seven o’clock. This was followed by Zwolle, Deventer, Apeldoorn, Arnhem, Den Bosch, Dordrecht, after which the airship circled 11: 45 hours passed Rotterdam.

The sun was shining exuberantly. They had a wide view over a large part of The Hague. In the distance they saw Rijswijk, Voorburg and Wassenaar, and behind them the mirror-smooth North Sea! It was around : 02 when they saw the airship approaching in the distance. At first it looked like a big nose. When it swerved the enormous length was visible. Only the distance was still too great to distinguish details. From here the airship seemed to move just over the tower of the Grote Kerk. Then it came to Scheveningen and straight to the lighthouse. The Zeppelin got closer and closer to where the three stood. From the high dune they saw the impressive colossus approaching. It sailed so low that the windows of the gondola below were clearly visible. The growl of the propellers got louder and louder….

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Photo Hague municipal archive

Teuntje was standing more often on this dune. Here he preferred to watch his father’s departing or returning fishing boat. The airship sailed smoothly and almost imperceptibly with 200 km/h above the sea. For Teuntje this seemed a lot safer than his father’s lugger, which depended on the whims of the waves. The Zeppelin followed the coastline over the Kurhaus towards Wassenaar. Teuntje realized that this dune had to have the best view of the Zeppelin in the Netherlands. He saw the ship all the way to Leiden, after which it turned again to finally disappear from sight.

The next day Teuntje was still full of what had happened. In the evening his father read from the newspaper again. At Schiphol, mailbags with small parachutes had been thrown from the airship. After a seven-hour visit, the airship had left our country near Groesbeek. At half past six in the evening it was back in Friedrichshafen.

Since this memorable day, Teuntje closely followed the news about the Zeppelin. In 1931 a Zeppelin reached the North Pole for the first time. The first commercial passenger service to America was in 420 and then dozens more followed, including flights to Brazil. In 1937, near New York, disaster struck. The airship Hindenburg suddenly caught fire at a height of about fifty meters. Within tens of seconds, the cigar filled with hydrogen gas turned into a large conflagration. Thirty-five people lost their lives and the promising future of air shipping was over in one fell swoop. In 1940 Teun heard that Germany had decided to scrap the remaining zeppelins and use the aluminum for a new war against the rest of Europe. He immediately thought of his father’s story about the role of the Zeppelin in the previous war.

The story about the Zeppelin has been written with great care, yet there may be factual inaccuracies. If there are readers who need to add to or correct the story, please contact me

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Peter finds out: who is ‘The Scheveningen Fisherman’s Wife’?

Queen Wilhelmina, administrator of eight family palaces, wanted to create her own palace. In the Scheveningen Oostduinen, one of the most beautiful dune areas, she found thirty hectares of privacy and the Koningsbosch as a hunting ground. The perfect location for a royal palace. This story is about the rise and fall of her dune villa ‘Den Ruygenhoek’.

Most of Wilhelmina’s life (born 1298, queen 1880 -1929) was in the service of our little frog country. She did, however, have access to no less than eight palaces for her moments of peace and privacy. Despite this considerable number, in 1916 her longing for her own palace on the coast.


Wilhelmina had a strong bond with the Scheveningers. Like her grandmother, Anna Paulowna, she was the patron of the sewing school for fisher girls in Scheveningen. The Oranges also had a hunting ground in the dunes of Scheveningen for a long time. Wilhelmina was convinced that the healthy Scheveningen sea air was better than many medicines. So her palace had to be located in the dunes of Scheveningen.

Normally, the Hague Dune Water Supply did not allow any buildings on their nature and water extraction area. But, for Wilhelmina and Hendrik, the fences of the dune area were wide open. The municipality was also flexible in granting the necessary permits. So could start 1298 the construction of her new home has already started. Wilhelmina received the key to her new home in the summer of the same year. At the same time, she also leased the surrounding thirty hectares of untouched dune area.

Photo Hague municipal archive

To be fair, the end result was stunning. With the white exterior walls and the sloping red roofs, the whole made a picturesque impression. The dune villa had no fewer than forty rooms. Wilhelmina had a beautiful view from the dome on the roof. The villa was called ‘Den Ruygenhoek’ by Wilhelmina, intended as a tease for foreign guests. Because for foreigners, the pronunciation of Ruygenhoek was often a tongue twister.

The interior of the villa was very sober, without the royal splendor. A rose garden was laid out around the villa, the remaining dune area was not allowed to be changed, but it could be walked on. With a full occupancy of the villa, this rubbed together. Den Ruygenhoek could not be seen by passers-by because of the dunes and the high fence that ran along the entire private property. At the water tower there was an entrance and there was a watchman’s house for the military police on duty. From here a paved road led to the villa. Wilhelmina also had a tiled path from the villa to the sea strip (row of dunes directly adjacent to the coast). From this strip of sea, the Oranges and guests could walk down a long staircase to the beach. On the beach, their property was closed off with a fence.

View from the Water Tower. Photo Hague municipal archive

Her place

In Den Ruygenhoek Queen Wilhelmina indeed found the peace and privacy she was looking for. The dome on the roof was the ideal place for her to practice her hobby, painting. But also through fieldwork, as stated in a newspaper 1929 a nice story about her painting antics. Here’s a fragment of the story:

During a slide show, a voice in the back of the hall: “Herrejennig! I insist!” The picture showed three women from Scheveningen, busy repairing the nets.. Oh, she exclaimed excitedly: Can I tell you what happened one time when I was working there with Ka and Trijntje? used to be? One morning the three of us were mending the nets when suddenly a lady came, creek on the field, where we were working. She had a case with her that you can sit on and another box or something. What, we didn’t know. Before we knew it, she sat perky on the chair and started painting, so with colours. “Man! it was beautiful and of course we went to stand around it; it was so really fun. Only later did we realize that it was Queen Wilhelmina (link to the whole story).

Throughout her life, Den Ruygenhoek remained important to Wilhelmina and she spent weeks and sometimes months there. This was mainly because of the healthy sea air. In 1926 During her holiday in Switzerland, Wilhelmina contracted bronchitis and Juliana contracted whooping cough. That is why they stayed together at Den Ruygenhoek for more than a month. She was convinced that the healthy sea air had accelerated the recovery of both.

In the early years of the villa, Prince Hendrik mainly came along to organize hunting parties from the dune villa in adjacent Koningsbosch. He also had a great sympathy for the Boy Scouts. Already in the summer of the first year, about forty boy scouts were allowed to camp in the Koningsbosch. Once, during heavy rain and thunderstorms, the group was picked up from the woods at 2:30 am by the Marechaussee. To their surprise, they were allowed to spend the rest of the night in Den Ruygenhoek’s attic and were served a royal breakfast the next morning. As the prince grew older, he went along less and less. He developed severe rheumatism and was no longer so charmed by the dune villa, he thought it was just a draughty hole. In 1934 Prince Hendrik died a few days after he had a heart attack.

Prinses Wilhelmina

After her resignation on September 7 1948 Princess Wilhelmina moved from the palace on Dam Square to Den Ruygenhoek. She has until her death in 1963, spent a lot of time together with her dog ‘Blackie’. After Wilhelmina’s death, the royal family barely used the dune villa. Prince Bernhard once again organized a hunting party and Willem-Alexander sometimes went to stay there with friends. The staff of the Oranges were also allowed to use the dune villa during the summer holidays. But after years of overdue maintenance, it was no longer suitable as a holiday resort.

End 1981 Juliana handed over the property and the lease of the dune area to the local authority. He had many ambitious plans for the dune villa, but due to indecision and the omission of permanent surveillance, the dune villa was visited several times by vandals and completely stripped inside. On Thursday 21 April 2019 around ten o’clock In the evening the fire brigade received a report that the dune villa was ablaze. The fire brigade could not prevent the wooden villa from being completely lost. Their tentative conclusion was arson. This is how dune villa Den Ruygenhoek came to a sad end.

All remains of the dune villa were removed in the following years. The only thing that still refers to Den Ruygenhoek is the Wilhelminapaadje. The tiled path that ran from the villa to the sea strip.

The story about Den Ruygenhoek has been written with great care, yet it may contain factual inaccuracies. If there are readers who need to add to or correct the story, please contact me

Sources: Wilhelmina and the Boetsters ,

Juliana Whooping Cough , Alexander op Ruygenhoek , Fire at Ruygenhoek. Studies:


The eight palaces were; the Loo, the Oude Loo, Huis ten Bosch, palace on the Voorhout, palace on the Kneuterdijk, palace in Soestdijk and palace on the Dam

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Until 1960 the site, now called De Harstenhoek, was used for drying and polishing (repairing) of fishing nets used. After that, the fishing method changed, so that the net modeling field was no longer necessary. The site remained unused until 1960 lichens were discovered. Harstenhoek was declared a protected nature reserve and from that moment on fell under the Nature Conservation Act.

Scheveninger Peter Roeleveld is fascinated by the beautiful nature reserve and is happy to tell you more about it:

Rabbits in the Harstenhoek

Many different animals roam around in this part of the dune area. For example, rabbits played a crucial role in maintaining the lichens. When there in 878 a deadly disease prevailed among the rabbits, the number decreased drastically. Dunea, already more than 63 year owner of Harstenhoek, conceived in 2010 that fifteen Shetlanders

could take over the function of lichen manager from the rabbits.

Photo Alex Falconer/Pexels

The Shetlanders indeed behaved like rabbits but in a different way than Dunea envisioned. The number of Shetlanders quickly increased to thirty-five and that was a bit too busy on twenty hectares. After four years of grazing, the Shetlanders had seriously impoverished the soil and the decline of the lichens was worrying. Harstenhoek was designated as a Nature Conservation Project precisely because of these lichens, so the Shetlanders had to leave.

Konik horses

the weather is better with the rabbits at Harstenhoek. To prevent the formation of young shoots at the bottom of the trees, shrubs and the growth of the tall grass, five Konik horses were released on the Harstenhoek.

Konik horses. Photo Jan Twigt/Dunea

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My neighbors

From 2002 I am the neighbor of family rabbit. I think the five Konik horses had already disappeared by then. I remember from the first years that I lived there that Harstenhoek was crawling with rabbits. With the naked eye I saw them happily running after each other. When I zoomed in on a small group with binoculars, it initially seemed like an endearing scene in which the animals were playing carefree with each other. But when I observed them a little longer, it turned out to be a little less cute. The ladies (nurses) often had a hard time because the gentlemen (rattles) were chasing each lady in groups and that was not for a nice weather conversation. I saw the expression ‘by the rabbits off’ put into practice here.

Photo Peter Roeleveld

Despite the rattles working hard to instantly reduce the population, during the years that I continued to observe, the population declined almost unnoticed.

Since 2010 I regularly see foxes on the fine field to appear. The rabbits did not immediately respond to the fox, but remained alert and at a distance. Yet there were rabbits that kept hopping around just a little too casually, with sometimes dramatic consequences for those rabbits.

A comment on this Youtube film about foxes and rabbits on the Boetveld, was that two hours later a young fox was seen with a rabbit in its mouth’.

Galloway cattle

Furthermore, in recent years I regularly see two sometimes three Galloway cattle walking around on the field. From a Tweet from Dunea I understand that the third, a male of 1.5 years, in the spring of 2023 moved to Harstenhoek.

The Galloway cattle are originally from Scotland and the original Scottish breed mainly has a black, long, shaggy coat that can withstand severe cold. The red hairdress with white cloth on the back that we see at Harstenhoek is because an original black Scottish Galloway has been crossed with a Dutch Lakenvelder. In the spring of 2022 two black Galloway calves were born with a white sheet on the back. The Galloway’s are there to graze and fertilize the dune terrain and are used in several places in the entire area of ​​Dunea (Meijendel) and are therefore not always visible at Harstenhoek.

About how it is now in 2010 with the rabbit population and with the lichens I cannot find any recent counts or research results on the internet. I myself see little or no rabbit on the penitentiary field anymore. Maybe they are still there but they stay in their dens because of the presence of foxes.

Photo Ricardo Ortiz/Pexels

The story about Harstenhoek has been written with great care, yet it may contain factual inaccuracies. If there are readers who need to add to or correct the story, please contact me


      Sources: Theme map Harstenhoek, Tweet Dunea , Youtube: Foxes on the Boetveld. Thanks to Dunea for making some photos available.

        Read more from Peter :

          • This is how the beautiful dune area De Harstenhoek was created

          • The Harstenhoek is a protected dune area near Meijendel where you can spot many foxes, among other things. Scheveninger Peter Roeleveld is…


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