Valbijl of vangnet? Natuurmonumenten, de adel en de verwerving van landgoederen en buitenplaatsen, 1905-1980


  • Michiel Purmer



Natuurmonumenten, a Dutch NGO for nature conservation, currently owns a wide variety of landed estates and country houses, formerly owned by nobles. The precarious economic position of the nobility after World War I, forced many to dispose of their costly ancestral estate in the course of the twentieth century. In this article, I explore the relationship between Natuurmonumenten and the nobility by looking at the acquisition history of the properties acquired by Natuurmonumenten. I particularly focus on two case studies, the estates of Hackfort and Eerde, which, after decades of negotiation and discussion, both became property of Natuurmonumenten in the early 1980s. These and other cases clearly demonstrate the vital importance of the board members’ personal networks for the acquisition of landed property. Nobles and nature conservationists – many of the board members of Natuurmonumenten were of noble birth themselves – both wanted to preserve landed estates. This mutual desire is still reflected in the management and preservation of estates and country houses owned by Natuurmonumenten today.