Scottish 17th century lady-in-waiting’s gown discovered off Texel

Painting by Sir Anthony van Dyck, on the occasion of the wedding of William II and Mary Stuart

From Leiden University in the Netherlands:

Texel gown belonged to member of royal court of Queen Henrietta Maria

20 April 2016

Archival research has revealed that the wardrobe discovered near Texel belonged to the royal court of the English Queen Henrietta Maria. In March 1642 the queen was travelling to the Netherlands on a secret mission when one of her baggage ships sank in the Wadden Sea. This discovery was made by cultural historians Nadine Akkerman from Leiden University and Helmer Helmers from the University of Amsterdam.

Divers had found the gown in a shipwreck off Texel in 2014.

The 17th-century dress, photo Kaap Skil museum on Texel

Scottish lady-in-waiting

The now famous silk gown is still remarkably well preserved and is the showpiece of a larger archaeological find near Texel. It probably belonged to Jean Kerr, Countess of Roxburghe (approximately 1585-1643), lady-in-waiting and confidante to Queen Henrietta Maria (1609-1669). There was also a younger lady-in-waiting whose clothes were being transported in the ship, but the more outdated style and size of the gown indicate strongly that it belonged to Kerr, the elder of the two.

Elizabeth Stuart

Cultural historians Nadine Akkerman and Helmer Helmers are experts on the British Royal House of Stuart. Their findings are based on a letter written by Elizabeth Stuart (1596-1662), the Stuart princess who found refuge in The Hague after being exiled from the Kingdom of Bohemia. In this letter to the English diplomat Sir Thomas Roe, dated 17 March 1642, Elizabeth describes how her sister-in-law lost a baggage ship during the crossing. In addition to the clothing of two ladies-in-waiting and their maids, the queen herself lost the chalices from her private chapel in the shipwreck.

A secret mission

The official story behind Henrietta Maria’s trip to the Dutch Republic was one of royal connections: she was delivering her 11-year-old daughter Mary to the court of William II, Prince of Orange and future stadtholder, whom the girl had married the previous year. This was only a ruse, however: her real mission was to sell the crown jewels and use the proceeds to buy weapons. These were essential for King Charles I to take on Parliament in the English Civil War. According to Akkerman and Helmers, the find at Texel represents a tangible reminder of the strong Dutch involvement in this conflict.

Winter Queen

Akkerman, Assistant Professor of Early Modern English Literature at Leiden University, and Helmers, Assistant Professor of Early Modern Dutch Literature and Culture at the University of Amsterdam, were able to solve the mystery of the unknown owner of the gown reasonably quickly. Akkerman: ‘Once Helmer alerted me to the find, it took us about five minutes to unearth the relevant letter, as I remembered transcribing and deciphering it in 2006. We are still finding even more references.’ Akkerman is the editor of the Correspondence of Elizabeth Stuart, Queen of Bohemia, while Helmers is the author of The Royalist Republic, on Anglo-Dutch relations in this period.

Unnecessary speculation

The mystery and speculation in the Dutch press surrounding the origin of the wardrobe were unnecessary. With the discovery of the family crest, the evidence quickly started pointing towards the Stuarts. Helmers: ‘It’s a pity we weren’t consulted sooner – the puzzle would have been solved much earlier. The archaeological experts have focused primarily on the material side. That’s important, of course, but the historical texts also tell a thrilling story.’


Short-eared owl on Texel island

This video from Texel island in the Netherlands says about itself:

24 April 2016

There he was, by the roadside, a Short-eared Owl. I had never seen an owl in the wild. Very special. I hope you enjoy it too!

Beached porpoise Sven can swim again

This video from the Netherlands says about itself (translated):

March 26, 2016

Things go well for harbour porpoise Sven. Last week he washed ashore on Texel and his life was in danger. Now he swims again by himself, in Harderwijk in SOS Dolfijn rehab centre.

Smallest beached Texel sperm whale was 19 years old

This video from the USA says about itself:

Jonathan Bird’s Blue World: Sperm Whales

12 March 2013

The Sperm whale holds many records. It is the deepest-diving whale on Earth, the largest toothed whale on Earth and has the largest brain on the planet too. On top of that, it has a reputation for being a vicious beast, thanks in part to Herman Melville‘s Moby Dick. But the real Sperm whale is a lot different than people think.

It has a highly-evolved social life, operates at depths where nobody can see them most of the time, and uses sonar which is so sophisticated that it makes the Navy’s electronics look like toys. Sperm whales are very hard to find and even harder to film. In the Caribbean, Jonathan repeatedly attempts to get close to the elusive whales, until finally he succeeds and has an incredible experience eye to eye with a giant who investigates him with powerful sonar clicks.

Translated from Ecomare museum on Texel island in the Netherlands:

Smallest sperm whale was 19 years old – 23-03-2016

The five sperm whales which stranded last January near beach post 12 along the Texel coast were young males, which was already known.

Of one of the dead animals the exact age has been determined. In a sawed off tooth of the sperm whale researchers counted 19 rings. Although it was the smallest animal, only 9.6 meters long, is not sure if it was the youngest whale. The length and the age of sperm whales do not always correspond simply. The teeth of the other animals will be examined later.

Other research continues as well.

Beached porpoise brought to rehab, video

This 19 March 2016 video from the Netherlands says about itself:

A live stranded harbour porpoise was found on the isle of Texel. Employees of the Ecomare center from Texel quickly report the stranding to SOS Dolfijn. While the rescue team of SOS Dolfijn goes on its way to pick up the sick young whale, the employees of Ecomare already get the animal [called Sven] away from the beach.

Harbour porpoise beached on Texel, video

This 19 March 2016 video, by Nicola Baken from the Netherlands, says about itself:

Footage of how passing tourists on the isle of Texel found a live stranded harbour porpoise. The young male was brought over to the mainland and handed over to SOS Dolfijn rehabilitation centre.

This is the harbour porpoise called Sven.

Beached harbour porpoise in rehabilitation center, video

This video from the Netherlands says about itself:

19 March 2016

This morning a live stranded harbour porpoise was found on the Dutch isle of Texel. The young male was found emaciated and with a bite wound on his tail. The wound was caused by an attack by a grey seal. So the little harbour porpoise was lucky to have survived this attack. In the rehabilitation centre he was given the name Sven.

He is now the second patient that is currently under the care of SOS Dolfijn. Exactly two weeks earlier a harbour porpoise stranded on the German coast. This animal was named Nena and is already swimming by herself again. Sven needs to be supported constantly and is too weak to swim.