The first mention of a medieval village at this location dates to 1357. It was called ‘Walravens Hide’, landing site of Walraf. The village submerged during the Vincentius storm in 1394. Following the construction of a new dike in 1399 a new fisher’s village was built by the name Walraversijde.
The village prospered and counted at a certain time one hundred brick-built houses, a mill, a brewery and a gothic church. The village best days were around 1465, also the Golden Age of Flanders. In 1489, nearby Ostend was plundered: the start of the downfall of the region. By 1628 all what remained was the church tower.
In the 1950, archaeological research at the beach had resulted in the find of remains of the first settlement (13th – 14th century). New dikes covered these remains. In 1992, systematic archaeological research was carried out on the site of the second village. A wealth of artefacts was discovered, many items witnessing the daily life of the fishermen, but also cannon balls, daggers and parts of crossbows. This may well be one of the best researched fisher villages of these days in Europe.
On the original site, the Provincial Museum Walraversijde opened in 2000. In the entrance building to the museum, one will find a comprehensive exhibition explaining the artefacts and history of the site.
Outside, the museum shows reconstructions of four houses, built with original bricks. The interior was inspired by many illustrated manuscripts of those days. The houses depict the village at its prime, in 1465. The richest house shows the life and possessions of a ship owner. It has glass windows and rich furniture. At the dining table one will see tin dishes, medieval glass and majolica plates. The walls were covered with tapestries.
The house of the fisher widow is made much simpler. The windows are covered with railings of willow twigs and wooden hatches. On the table will find wooden bowls, spoons and cutting planks. Under the stairs is the simple bed.
The other two houses, the house of the fish smoker and the fish smoker / bakery are also made in simple fashion.
Just outside the open-air museum, there is another site, an open-air museum Atlantikwall (WWII) as well as the Prince Charles Memorial (1903-1983).
Text source: Wikipedia
Photo: R. Paardekooper