On June 29, 1457, Dordrecht was hit by a major city fire. The church was also badly damaged. It is unclear which changes took place during the reconstruction. Natural stone was used for the reconstruction, white stone of Gobertange (located in the present-day Wallonia) for the exterior and the softer limestone for the interior.
The rebuilding of the Grote Kerk was led by Everaert Spoorwater, the architect from the Southern Netherlands. He is regarded as a prominent representative of the Brabant Gothic style, the architectural style in which the Dordrecht Grote Kerk was rebuilt. The Brabant Gothic style is considered a regional variant of French Gothic style.
This can be seen in the map of the church.
More information on the Brabant Gothic architecture
The church has a cross-shaped shape, consisting of a central nave with two side aisles, cross arms or transepts and a high choir with a ambulatory. The church is surrounded by chapels.
The entire church has a stone vault, exceptionally in Holland with its soft soil. The Mary choir has an impressive star vault, the rest of the church a cross rib vault.
The church consists of three floors: arcade, triforium and light aisle. The arcade consists of round columns with carbon leaf capitals, which can also be seen as a style characteristic of the Brabant Gothic style.
Guilds and prominent families had an altar in the Grote Kerk. These were placed in one of the chapels or against one of the columns.
Besides guilds and families, brotherhoods and militia also had chapels.
More information about the chapels of the Grote Kerk
The map below gives an overview of the total of 21 chapels of the Grote Kerk.
The Jerusalem Chapel, the easternmost chapel, was maintained by the brotherhood of pilgrims to Jerusalem. This brotherhood thus remembered the pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
In 1909 the chapel was provided with three windows with low points in the history of the city of Dordrecht: the St. Elisabeths Flood (1421); the big city fire (1457) and the conquest of the city during the Hoekse and Kabeljauwse disputes (1480). The windows were donated by the Stoop family.
In the collection of the Dordrecht Museum there are a number of stained glass windows from the 17th century, which were originally installed in this chapel.
The church has a stone rib vault. The vault consists of intersecting ribs. At this crossing, there is a vault key or keystone. A rosette was placed against this key.
More information about the rosettes of the Grote Kerk
The rosettes in the Grote Kerk are made of oak. These are polychrome painted and decorated with gold leaf.
Four rosettes in the Mary choir feature special events from the life of Mary, the mother of Jesus.
In the ship, the rosettes depict parts of Passion of Jesus.
The image below gives an overview of the rosettes.
In the 18th century, a relatively simple but stylish oak pulpit from 1597 had to make way for a showpiece of marble, copper and mahogany. Hendricus van der Vught, a rich sugar refiner, left more than 20,000 guilders to the Grote Kerk. According to the will, this had to be turned into a pulpit and baptismal garden. From the legacy, a corresponding magistrate’s bench was also paid.
More information about the pulpit of the Grote Kerk
The Amsterdam master sculptor Asmus Frauen completed the sculpture of the bowl and foot in 1756. Before he could start the real work, a model of clay had to be made and approved by the clients.
The copper work was also carried out by an Amsterdammer. Pieter Rokkens has, according to drawings by Asmus Frauen, made all the copperwork, such as the lectern and the balustrade.
The fence around the baptismal garden, the magistrate’s bench and the woodwork on the pulpit were made by the Gerrit van de Waal in the late 18th century. The soundboard has a large and exuberant crowning. It is made of Cuban mahogany and is made by Gerrit de Waal and Jan van der Linden. This crown bears the coat of arms of Hendricus van der Vught.
The baptismal garden and pulpit is executed in the lush rococo style.
In 1367, Duke Albrecht of Bavaria founded a chapter of clergymen and the parish church was elevated to a collegiate church. This under the approval of the bishop of Utrecht. The collegiate members, also called canons, were on the one hand administrators, but were also obliged to sing daily choral prayers.
More information about the choir stalls of the Grote Kerk
This required choir stalls, which were placed in the sanctuary. The current oak choir stalls date from 1538 to 1542. The benches seem to have been influenced by the school of the Flemish artist Jehan Mone.
On both sides of the choir are two rows of seats separated by railings with a total of sixty seats. To the west they have been extended with benches without banisters. These offered space to about forty choir boys and altarists.
Besides the practical sitting function of a misericorde (also called a support or a chair), the choir stalls also had a visual language function. The influence of the Renaissance is clearly visible. The images are not only religious representations, but also mythological and worldly representations.
The continuous reliefs on the rear walls of the northern choir bench show two secular triumphal processions, the victory march of Gaius Mucius Scaevola, a Roman triumphal march in eight panels, and ‘The Joyful Entry’, an allegorical victory march of Emperor Charles V, also in eight panels. The bench on the south side shows two biblical-religious scenes in the form of a procession. Eight panels depict the ‘Triumph of Christ’, followed by eight panels with the procession of the Holy Sacrament.
The misericordes have depictions of, among other things, proverbs.
Philippe Diodati left a considerable amount of money, which was used for a gold and two silver dinner sets. After all the costs for making the dishes had been paid, it turned out that not all the money had been used up. This money was used to make a choir fence.
More information on the choir fence of the Grote Kerk
The fence replaced a wooden fence of 52 columns and angel figures. This fence was delivered in 1691 by the sculptor Jacob Noormans.
The copper choir fence in early Louis XV style was installed in 1744. It was cast by Adrianus Crans, a artilleryman from The Hague. It is not certain who made the design of the fence, Michiel van Kalraet or Dirck Dyckerhof. The marble pillars were made by the Hague stonemason Jan Oosthout.
The style above the doors of the gate is provided with Philippe Diodati’s coat of arms.
The tower of the Grote Kerk should have been 108 meters high. An octagonal crowning of natural stone should have ensured this.
The tower already started to sink in the 16th century and dangerously tilted over. A spire of nearly 50 meters could be disastrous. Therefore, this was abandoned. Plans were made to demolish the tower and enlarge the church.
More information about the tower of the Grote Kerk
Eventually, in 1626, the four colossal clock signs were fitted. The clock was made by the Jan Janszoon from Dordrecht. The dials have figure rings of 4.25 meters in diameter.
The final height of the tower was therefore 65 meters, measured from the bottom of the foundation 72 m.
With a large-scale restoration carried out between 1953 and 1973, the further subsidence of the tower was halted. The tower is now 2.25 meters out of the lead.
Golden supper and baptism set
In the Sint Andrieskapel, there is a large safe, made by the Dordrecht manufacturer Lips. In this safe, a golden supper and baptismal set is permanently on display.
Both sets are made by Dirk Wor. Wor was a well-known, gold- and silversmith who lived in Dordrecht in the 18th century.
More information about the golden supper and baptismal set
The supper set, consisting of a large dish, two small dishes and four cups, is financed by a legacy of Philippe Diodati, a great-grandson of the famous theologian and bible translator Jean Diodati.
The baptismal set, consisting of a pouring jug and a baptismal basin, was made a few years later and financed from the estate of the pharmacist Mattheus Coddaeus.
Besides the gold set, Dirk Wor made two silver replicas of the sets. These were intended for use in the Augustine Church and in the Nieuwkerk.