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Depleted funds jeopardizes completion of Pilgrims’ Church restoration

Allottment of 2002 running out

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

LEIDEN - The fate of the ongoing restoration of the historic Pieterskerk depends on the extension of funding by the Dutch government. The building, also known as the Pilgrims’ Church and a Dutch monument, which has strong links to U.S. history, has been undergoing renovations for years. The project requires funding of $2 million a year, but it still awaits a decision on further government subsidies for 2005. The previous disbursement dates from 2002, and will be depleted in a few months.

The Dutch government has been forced to pare down its national budget and re evaluate a number of large scale funding grants for the upkeep and restoration of monuments of which there are thousands in the country. Work at Leiden’s Pieterskerk thus far has been paid from a special program for large – ‘kanjer’ projects, which also pays for the renovation of the famed Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

Although it is believed that the small congregation of English exiles never worshipped at the Pieterskerk, located opposite the house of their leader John Robinson, the church does play an important role in the history of the group which became known as the Pilgrims. In 1620, a number of Pilgrims sailed to North America on the Mayflower to start a new life. Other groups followed to the new world where the Pilgrims founded their New Plymouth colony. Robinson died in 1625 and was buried in the Pieterskerk. The registers of the church hold vital statistics on the Pilgrims such as the baptisms, marriages and burials.