Eename 1665 – village & inn

The virtual reconstruction of Ename in 1665 is not only visualisation and synthesis of all the research and sources we have about this Flemish village, but it allows also to experience rural Flanders in the 17th century.  The contrast between the houses and material culture of the village and the wealth and opulence of the abbey, that owns and dominates the village, becomes obvious when walking through this virtual world that has been constructed based upon many historical documents such as the writings of abbot de Loose and the detailed map of the village he commissioned to surveyor Jan Bale (of which copies are preserved at House Beaucarne in Ename and the Library of the University of Ghent).

Overview of the village centre
Overview of the Ename village centre in 1665 (image: Visual Dimension)

In this way, we are creating a Time Machine experience that allows us to visit a world that we only know through the many splendid paintings and drawings of the 17th century of for example the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.  This vast collection of 17th-century iconography and objects – called Rijksstudio – is online, provides professional and high-resolution images, can be used without restriction and can be searched in many ways.  The Rijksstudio is our most important source of information on the use and looks of objects, landscape, atmosphere and way of life.  It allows us to create a believable virtual world that represents the 17th century in the very best way we can today.  In other words, this is the closest we can get today to a Time Machine.

The village pond
The village pond next to blacksmith Horie (image: Visual Dimension)
The tree at the pond
The tree at the pond was the meeting point of the village (image: Visual Dimension)

Take for example the above views on the village centre and its pond with a tree, based upon the map of Jan Bale, published in 1661.

Ename village centre
The Ename village centre as depicted by surveyor Jan Bale in 1661 (preserved in Huis Beaucarne)

The map shows the parcels, the houses and the pond but does not contain any information on the look and feel of this village centre, the houses, the vegetation, the enclosures of the parcels, the tree with a bench where a shepherd could rest or where the daily gossip is passed on.  This is where the images from the Rijksmuseum come in, showing daily life in rural villages in Flanders and the Netherlands.

Village center with solitary tree and pond
Flemish village centre with solitary tree and pond around 1560 (Rijksmuseum)
Village centre (Rijksmuseum)
A village centre around 1650 by Wenceslaus Hollar, after Jan Brueghel (Rijksmuseum)
Flemish village centre (Rijksmuseum)
A Flemish village centre in the 17th century with pond by Pieter van der Borcht (Rijksmuseum)
Village centre (Rijksmuseum)
A Flemish village square in the 17th century by Pieter van der Borcht (Rijksmuseum)

When making virtual reconstructions that have the ambition to provide a TimeMachine experience, we need to be able to capture the material culture of that period and be aware that only a fraction of that material culture is preserved today in museums.  When visiting, for example, the local Swan Inn, we want to have a good part of the objects around that are typical for a rural inn (probably even a brothel) of that time.  The Rijksstudio provides us with many views on social life and on the objects and their use.  For example, backgammon was a popular game, played with passion, holding the attention of the onlookers.

The Swan Inn
The Swan Inn had a pergola (image: Visual Dimension)
Playing backgammon
Playing backgammon at the Swan Inn (image: Visual Dimension)

Not only does the Rijksstudio provides a high-resolution image of a backgammon playboard, but the image can also be used as a texture for the 3D object.  Other images show the setting and the other objects around.

Backgammon playboard (Rijksmuseum)
Backgammon playboard (Rijksmuseum)
An Inn with Backgammon Players
An Inn with Backgammon Players (1669) by Egbert van Heemskerck (Rijksmuseum)
Two kinds of games
Two kinds of games by Jan Havicksz. Steen, 1660 – 1679 (Rijksmuseum)

Everybody was going to the pub.  Everybody was drinking beer, men, women and children, enjoying the presence of the local community and playing drinking games by circulating the pass glass of the pub.  These pass glasses and drinking games are well documented by paintings and drawings in the online Rijksstudio archive and are even performed today.

pancake and beer
Enjoy some pancakes and let the pass glass go around at the Swan Inn (image: Visual Dimension)
Interior of a pub
Interior of a pub, Justus van den Nijpoort, 1635 – 1692 (Rijksmuseum)
Interior of a Peasant Hut
Interior of a Peasant Hut, Benjamin Gerritsz Cuyp, 1630 – 1652 (Rijksmuseum)
Still life with pass glass
Still life with pass glass, Jan Jansz. van de Velde, 1647 (Rijksmuseum)
17th-century pass glass
17th-century pass glass (Rijksmuseum)

The wine was served in a pewter pitcher, the typical square wine bottles were cooled by water from the well.  This pitcher can be seen in many paintings by Jan Steen, one of the most prominent Dutch painters of the 17th century, hence it is called the “Jan Steen pitcher”.  The glasses next to the pitcher are on display in the local Ename museum.

Serving cool wine
Serving cool wine (image: Visual Dimension)
Detail from The Merry Family by Jan Steen
Detail from The Merry Family by Jan Havicksz. Steen, 1668 (Rijksmuseum)
Detail from The Drunken Couple by Jan Steen
Detail from The Drunken Couple by Jan Havicksz. Steen, 1655 – 1665 (Rijksmuseum)
Peasant wedding by Jan Steen
Detail from The Peasant Wedding by Jan Havicksz. Steen, 1672 (Rijksmuseum)

One of the nice historical features of that period, that is fully documented by the paintings and drawings of the Rijksmuseum, is the presence of starling pots.  Ceramic pots, suited as starling nests, were hanging around the windows, to take the young starlings as delicacies (prepared as soup or pastries).

Starling pots
Starling pots hanging around the upper windows (image: Visual Dimension)
Detail of Boerenkermis
Detail of Boerenkermis by Jan van de Velde (II), 1617 (Rijksmuseum)

In the next post, we will visit the brewery, the bakery and the school.

The Horie brewery provides the beer
The Horie brewery provides the beer of the Swan Inn (image: Visual Dimension)

The Eename 1665 TimeMachine experience is available in the local Ename museum for guided groups and individual visitors since the end of 2019 (we developed an early prototype with natural interaction in 2016).  This interactive application is based upon games technology and has an extensive weather system and a full day/night cycle.