The Kerkbrik

In the barn of Open Air Museum De Locht there is an old carriage, called a church brig. The vehicle already has a respectable age, as it was built in 1905.

At that time, only rich farmers and citizens could afford such a copy, because it already cost 1250 guilders. And to think that you could build a small farm for 4000 guilders. The carriage often came in handy in bad weather, when rain, wind and snow had free rein over fields and roads. It was at the service of the

whole hamlet. It was used to visit fairs and weddings in neighboring villages, the carriage was a very welcome means of transport. This was also the case with baptisms, a newborn had to go to church within 24 hours, even in severe winter weather, to receive the sacrament of baptism. With the little one wrapped in swaddling clothes, they sailed to church. At the baptism, the little girl was given a scoop of cold water over the head and some salt in the mouth by the priest, to learn to resist the future hard earthly existence.

Visitors sometimes tell us that there were Catholic and Protestant church brigs. The difference seemed to be in the center backrests between the benches. In the Protestant church brigs there were closed railings, so that the passengers could not touch each other with their knees. To what extent this is based on truth is still unclear, this still needs to be scientifically investigated! All in all, the carriage was a valued means of transport in earlier times, of course the experience and routine of horse and coachman was important.

A few years ago, on the occasion of a wedding feast, the church brig was once again taken out of the stable in a neighboring village. This was done more out of nostalgia than because of its practical use as a means of transport. The 40-year-old couple took a seat in the vehicle. Hop, hop!, said the coachman, and they made their way to the church. The team trotted towards the village. The animal started to run faster and faster. The beast had not kept up with the times, as it had some difficulty with the other modern, motorized, hyper-fast road users.

Suddenly, the energetic four-legged friend was startled by a strange sound, the trot turned into a gallop, there was no stopping it. The animal now wanted to go to church very quickly, while there was still plenty of time, the hand of the church clock still indicated fifteen minutes before the start time. The horse took the turn too short. Crack, crack it sounded…., they hit a tree. The whole team tumbled into a deep ditch with a thunderous roar.

Fortunately, the fall was broken by a thick layer of mud at the bottom of the ditch. The groom was able to climb out unharmed, but the bride had to be helped out of the battered vehicle by bystanders who rushed to the scene. She had to go to the hospital for observation. Fortunately, during this perilous adventure, she escaped wonderfully well with a few bruised ribs and a hurt shoulder. The horse stood with a broken harness, panting and recovering from the fright.

Of course, the planned party could not take place on that day, but after a recovery period of the bride, the 40th anniversary was celebrated exuberantly after some time. The jubilee couple lived happily ever after!

Some time later I found the church brig badly battered at the restorer.

A true story!

Pete Lenssen