History of the Dutch graveyards.

Until the early 19th century it was common that deceased people were buried in or around the church.
To be buried in the church was very expensive, and mostly reserved for the rich and noble.
Sometimes you even could smell the decaying corpses from under the church floor.
It’s said that the Dutch saying “rijke stinkerd” (smelly rich = filthy rich) originates from this period.
For the people who couldn’t pay for a place inside of the church, a place outside was reserved. ( the so called ‘churchyard’ ).
Under the influence of the French leader Napoleon, and for hygienic reasons, the law changed several times in the early 19th century. In 1823 a new law was determined by William 1. Every town with more than a thousand inhabitants must have a graveyard outside the town. Burying in and around churches in those cities was forbidden.
There are exceptions for existing vaults in churches, for example the Dutch monarch with a crypt in the ‘Nieuwe Kerk’ in Delft.


For the fear of being buried alive, a new law was made. The deceased may only be buried 36 hours after being declared dead.
Before this law people were often declared dead to soon, especially during the epidemics, just to get the disease quickly out of the city. It was then that many people were buried alive.
For ‘preparing the dead’ and awaiting the burial, rooms were built in the cemeteries called bier or corpse houses.

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