HUNTING IN THE LIESBOS FOREST

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The Barony of Breda is home to one of the most beautiful and oldest forests in the area. The forests were created by barons with long lanes, moors, ponds and creeks. It also has a long history of princes, poachers and smugglers. In addition to forests, the Barony also owns heathland, bogs and old loam pits.

COMFORTABLE HUNTING

With its first record dating back to 1268, the Liesbos is the largest and oldest common oak forest of the Netherlands. From the 15th Century, the forest has been owned by the Nassau’s. The straight pathways in the forest were created back in the day for hunting. It allowed royalty to comfortably hunt with falcons for blue herons, that have lived in the forest since the Middle Ages. A hunting warden had to make sure that the Nassau’s had enough wildlife to hunt for. Hunting dogs were shot and whoever had their cattle roaming the forest would be presented with a fine.

Portrait of Engelbert II, count of Nassau, Lord of Breda. Count Engelbert had himself painted with a hunting falcon, a typical way of showing he is of noble blood. Falconry was highly respected, so it’s no wonder Engelbert II had himself painted with a falcon. | Image: Rijksmuseum

Later there was a fortification built around the forest, to prevent wildlife from escaping. It’s no secret that the forest was used for hunting, as many places in the forest are named after it, like ‘Het Jachthuis’ (The Hunting House), ‘De Rustende Jager’ (The Resting Hunter) and the ‘Jagerpad’ (Hunting path). The forest has been open to the public since 1795.

Three ladies, Mien, Maria en Marij, relaxing at a pond in the Liesbos forest, 1885. | Image: Stadsarchief Breda

The Jachthuis, 1910. | Image: Stadsarchief Breda

THE CLOOTIE WELL

The Liesbos has a special area called ‘Rondje’ (circle) or ‘Hemeltje’ (heaven). A large sycamore stood here, surrounded by beech trees. In the past, this tree was used as a ‘clootie well’. Clootie wells are wells or springs, almost always with a tree growing beside them, where strips of cloth or rags have been left, usually tied to the branches of the tree as part of a healing ritual. In Scots terminology, a “clootie” is a strip of cloth or rag. The tree was chopped down in 1931 by order of the parish, who wanted to get rid of the pagan ritual once and for all.

Illustrator Thijs Lansbergen took inspiration from the rich history of Liesbos and locals. The mural is a playful arrangement of the forest, flora, fauna, falconers, and people riding bikes, hiking or eating.

Mural location: bicycle tunnel De Kloek, Liesboslaan

Photo: Edwin Wiekens

Photo: Edwin Wiekens

We’re sharing this series of Blind Wall stories for everyone that could use some distraction during this scary and uncertain situation. Stay safe everyone.

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