The village of Oud-Vossemeer (Old Fox Lake) is part of Tholen island, cleft between the provinces of Zeeland and Noord-Brabant. Word has it that ancestors of President Roosevelt came from here. Less clear, though, is if the term ‘old fox’, often used in American politics to describe the president’s shrewd side, originated here too. Could be, eh?
Oud-Vossemeer was once part of the manor of Oud- and Nieuw-Vossemeer and Vrijberghe, which took shape after the Kerkepolder was formed in the 15th century. These days, it is part of Zeeland, and Nieuw-Vossemeer of Noord-Brabant. Young foxes are known to leave their parents at an early age.
The assumed links of Oud-Vossemeer with the Roosevelt lineage date from the early 17th century when the head of the family, Claes Martensen van Rosenvelt, emigrated from the Netherlands to ‘Nieuw-Nederland’ (New York). He is said to come from Oud-Vossemeer. Members of the Rosevelt family continued to live in Oud-Vossemeer until the 18th century.
Several American Roosevelts are known to have made pilgrimages back to the old country: the Zeeuwse Oud-Vossemeer. A nephew of President Theodore Roosevelt came in 1929 and 1934, hunting down the family past. And in 1950, Eleanor, widow of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR), visited.
The Roosevelt coat of arms hangs in the manor house, the Ambachtsherenhuis. Since 2016, it has also housed the Roosevelt Information Centre, opened by Princess Beatrix in the presence of a family delegation.
The church of Oud-Vossemeer stands on the village’s highest elevation. Inside, a monument to the Four Freedoms of which FDR spoke so often.
The church is dedicated to St John the Baptist, in a crucifix form. Its tower was built in 1450, the nave and choir a few decades later.
More contemporary, from 1850, the De Jager cereal windmill, just at the edge of the village, is a stunning white, round, brick building. Come and visit on Fridays and Saturdays – do stop by the mill shop.
Every spring, the village hops on its bike in the Ronde van (‘Tour de’) Oud-Vossemeer, the opening event of Zeeland’s biking season. This and all other happenings in and around Oud-Vossemeer are listed on our Events Calendar.