December 28, 2010

Willem Ham, Kasteel 't Hammetje/Hammetje Castle


picture by unknown photographer 
(from dutch touristic website fietsen.123, not available anymore)

It looks like a peaceful landscape, and it is, but this paradise is just near one of the busiest traffic junctions in the Netherlands:  Hoevelaken Junction.

Life and work

Willem Ham (1921-2006),  a man of various professions, such as market trader and furniture dealer, certainly had no training in building castles, constructing islands or creating big gardens. However, this is what he did once retired.

He lived in a small community in the peaceful rural area near the once small city of Amersfoort, in  the center of the Netherlands.

From the 1960s on urbanization and growing traffic entailed a lot of changes. To construct the Hoevelaken junction, sand was excavated on a nearby location, which resulted in the emergence of a lake.

In the early 1970s Willem Ham could buy this lake and the surrounding area. He constructed some islands in the lake, situating these in the configuration of the dutch North Sea isles and he transformed the terrain into a wooded area.

Creating a castle

Once retired (around 1988) Ham began creating a caste-like construction on his property

this picture (2019) courtesy of Serflac

He made this building without any plan or sketches (and probably without any building permit too), using various types of demolition materials such as bricks and windows from demolished houses and churches. Sewers would serve as kind of cannons aimed at the advancing urban development of Amersfoort.

In vain. Meanwhile, the urban expansion has approached the property very closely, up to some fifty meters. The residential blocks are separated from the site by just a road and a canal.

picture from the website Dwaze Bouwsels

The property has been sold to the municipality

In 2005, a year before he died, Willem Ham sold the property to the city of Amersfoort. For many years it remained unclear what the municipality would like to do with the area and the building. 

A municipal plan

However, in March 2020 a Dutch newspaper reported that the municipality of Amersfoort had published a plan to transform the area around the castle into a recreational area by constructing pedestrian and cycle paths, play areas for children and other facilities, all with respect for the environment.

Realization of such a plan will still take some time. In the meantime, the complex will remain fenced, which also includes that is not possible to visit the buildings or the site.

a sketch of the plan ©️ City of Amersfoort

Some documentation 

* Paul Post, "Fort Ham: verzet tegen oprukkend Amersfoort" on website Dwaze Bouwsels (with a lot of illustrations)
Video
* Video (1992) produced for a Dutch television program, with scenes of the constructions and of Willem Ham's garden and animals (directed by Arnold-Jan Scheer, YouTube, 8'15", uploaded dec 2012)


In the first 1.5 minutes Willem Ham talks (in dutch) about his construction.

Transcribed into english: "This is Fort Willem 1 and Fort Willem 2. I have constructed these with materials....." (click here to read the rest of the transcript)

first published December 2010, last revised April 2021

Willem Ham
Kasteel 't Hammetje
Domstraat 82
3829 ND, Vathorst/Hooglanderveen, Netherlands
no public visits

3 comments:

  1. Hi Henk, have you been to look through the fence at least ? Sounds great...

    And fences were meant for being climbed over, right ?

    Wishing you the happiest of holidays, and an excellent 2011...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sure, looking through the fence is the way to get into contact with this creation Some people however, climbing over the fence, came into too close contact (i.e. went vandalising).
    Wish you a very well 2011...

    ReplyDelete
  3. Уважаемый Хенк Спасибо!

    ReplyDelete