The history of Venhorst
Around 1920, the village square, where Venhorst is now loacted looked similiar to this:
Heather, grass, water and no trees. Sheep kept the heather short so no trees could grow.
Early in the 20th century, more and more farmers begin to clear ‘De Boekelse Heide’. The municipality sells plots of land approximately 7 hectares each, which at that time was sufficient enough for a family to make a living. Around 1930 there were already hundreds of people living in the surrounding area. The need for a school and a church was urgent since the daily journey to Boekel took them over an hour.
In 1932 the town councils approved the village plan of ‘The Regional Planning Commission’. The name of the new village was ‘Sint Jozefpeel’, named after the patron saint which was also the name of the Boekel’s priest: ‘Jozef de Raad’. Because the name ‘Sint Jozefpeel’ was confusing for the post office in 1936, the village was renamed ‘Venhorst’. The village is named this which means valley and hills.
The Saint Cornelius School
The first building in the new village was the Saint Cornelius School, built in 1932.
On January 16 (1933) this school officially opened and more than 80 children were taught by 3 teachers.
This picture shows that in 1933 the heather grows right up to the school. On the playground stands Piet Menne, the first principal of the school.
The school year 2017 / 2018 started with 187 children in the primary school, in eight groups. Furthermore the building has room to accommodate toddlers, childcare and before- and after school care.
Piet Menne, the first principal not only worked hard at his wonderful school, he also spent a lot of time and energy in the development of the village itself. Together with the committee ‘Dorpsbelang’ he arranged to have telephone connection, that the boulder (de ‘Kei’), was moved, that the Boekel-Venhorst road was hardened and much, much more. Personally, he ensured that all big and small events of the young village were promoted extensively.
As long as long as people can remember, this boulder was in the sand. Shepherds used it as a seat to rest on during their lonely trips across the hill. In 1934 the boulder was taken out of the ground and horses dragged it to the town square. There it was placed as a ‘jewel on a pedestal’.
People from Boekel and Venhorst beside ‘de Kei’ in the village square. In the background the Venhorst church, part of the Boekel Parish.
This stone has probably been carried through the Maas River during the ice age, a period of 300,000 to 600,000 years ago.
The ‘Kei’ still lies in the village square, now with stainless steel around the monument made by Jan van Hoof. There is a poem by Jos van der Van that briefly tells the history of the ‘Peeldorp’ Venhorst:
“First Stone, hard and fierce, work waits, much and diligent
Always growing, left and right. An enemy? Only it bothered us.
Then came the harvest, filled with gold, it has been captured around us.
Whatever fades or drives, whatever disappears….the creation remains.”
In 1934 the Roman Catholic church, with a capacity of 224 seats, was built with the help from the mother parish in Boekel. The newspaper mentioned that is was ‘the most beautiful church in the northern area’. In 1935 Venhorst became a parish on its own. The first priest was Marinus Thomassen, he stayed until 1967. In 1952 the church was extended with two more constructions on the sides and a tower with a clock and weathervane. The capacity was extended to a total of 330 seats.
The Church from Venhorst around 1940
Harding of the road Venhorst-Boekel
In 1938 the road to Boekel was hardened. Because many councillors from the Municipality of Boekel found this construction very expensive, the mayor, Cornelus Schafrat, made a great effort to get this expensive project done. Board members of the Province North-Brabant (Provinciale staten) invested, therefore the old sand road Nieuwe Dijk gets a new name: ‘Statenweg’.
Map 1939: The center of Venhorst shows 10 buildings, including the bakery, the blacksmith and the contracter.
In 1939 the municipality of Boekel gave the parish 0.24 hectares of land to build a kindergarten / school that could also serve as a meeting room. With some adjustments, this facility remained in use until 2006. Then the entire building was broken down and replaced with De Horst, the multifunctional community centre for a selection of sports clubs, social and cultural events, meetings, etc. In 2017, the delegations of ERP used ‘De Horst’ for the convention.
In 1982 the festivities for the 50th anniversary of Venhorst were concluded with the presentation of this statue ‘De Pioniers’.
This artwork of Marga Brei is a gift from the municipality of Boekel to the residents of Venhorst. It represents a powerful farmer pair, with lots of energy, going to cultivate the Peel. In the background, you can see a part of the Mennehof, where children from the first inhabitants of the village still live.
At the beginning of the cultivation of the Peel, the ‘Voskuilen’ showed that it was unsuitable for agricultural purposess because it is partly too dry and partly too wet. This piece of land remains in possession of the municipality of Boekel.
In the early days of De Voskuilen: ‘Fun on Ice’
Since 1989 volunteers from Venhorst have been working on rebuilding a piece of the Peels landscape with heather and valleys. The foundation ‘Peellandschapspark Voskuilenheuvel’ provides for the management and maintenance of the area.
First work, was the construction of an old fashioned sheep hut which was designed by the help of old shepherds from the region.
The area is grazed by a flock of 15 ‘Kempische’ sheep. It is freely accessible and a walking route has been set out.
The sheephut in 2017