The Noordeinde palace originated as a medieval farmhouse, which was converted into a spacious residence by the steward of the States of Holland, Willem van de Goudt in 1533. The original farmhouse's cellars can still be seen in the palace basement.
From 1566 to 1591, the palace had a different owner. After that it was leased, and in 1595, purchased by the States of Holland for Louise de Coligny, the widow of William of Orange, and her son Prince Frederik Hendrik. In recognition of William’s service to the nation, the States presented the building to his family in 1609.
Frederik Hendrik substantially enlarged the house, which was then known as the Oude Hof. He began by buying the surrounding plots of land. The architects Pieter Post and Jacob van Campen, who built Huis ten Bosch Palace in 1645, were among those involved in the alterations. The alterations included lengthening the main building and adding wings on either side, thus creating the characteristic H-form that is seen today.
After Frederik Hendrik died in 1647, his widow, Amalia van Solms, spent much of her time at the Oude Hof. Following her death in 1675, the house was more or less empty for many years. After the death of the Stadholder-King William III in 1702, it passed to King Frederick I of Prussia, a grandson of Frederik Hendrik’s.
In 1740 Voltaire stayed in one of the apartments while he negotiated with Dutch publisher Jan van Duren about the Anti-Machiavel. In 1754, King Frederick the Great of Prussia sold his land-holdings in the Netherlands to Stadholder William V.
The son of Stadholder William V, who would become King Willem I, took up residence at the Oude Hof in 1792. But when the French invaded the Netherlands in 1795, during the French Revolutionary Wars, he and his family were forced to flee to England. The Oude Hof became the property of the Batavian Republic and hence state property, the status it has today. The gardens of the palace are open to the public.
In 1813, after the fall of Napoleon, Prince Willem returned to the Netherlands, where he was proclaimed Sovereign Prince.
The Constitution of the time decreed that the State must provide a summer and a winter home for the sovereign. Initially there were plans to build a new winter residence, but in the end it was decided to make extensive alterations to the Oude Hof.
King Willem I moved into Noordeinde Palace in 1817, living there until his abdication in 1840. His successor, King Willem II, never resided there. Like his grandfather, King Willem III used Noordeinde as his winter home, though he preferred to live at his summer residence, Het Loo Palace in Apeldoorn. In 1876, he had the royal stables built in the gardens behind Noordeinde Palace.
Even after King Willem III married Queen Emma, the royal family continued to use Noordeinde as their winter home. Their daughter, Princess Wilhelmina, was born there in 1880, and Queen Emma and her daughter spent their winters at Noordeinde after the King’s death in 1890. In 1895 the Queen Regent had premises for the Royal Archives built in the grounds.
In 1901, Queen Emma moved to Lange Voorhout Palace, today's Escher Museum, while Queen Wilhelmina and her husband Prince Hendrik remained at Noordeinde.
Until the German invasion in 1940, Queen Wilhelmina continued to make frequent use of Noordeinde Palace. After the war, the palace was again used as the Queen’s winter residence.
In 1948, the central section of the palace was destroyed by fire. That same year Juliana acceded to the throne. She preferred Soestdijk Palace as her official residence, though some members of the Royal Household continued to use offices in Noordeinde. Between 1952 and 1976 the Institute of Social Studies was based in the north wing of the palace. Following a thorough restoration in 1984, the Palace became the Dutch Monarch’s workplace and office for all political and stately affairs.References:
The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.
The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick. The tower was likely inhabited by the principal family or clan of the area but also served as a last resort for the village in case of an attack.
The broch continued to be inhabited while it began to collapse and the original structures were altered. The cistern was filled in and the interior was repartitioned. The ruin visible today reflects this secondary phase of the broch's use.
The site is surrounded by three ditches cut out of the rock with stone ramparts, encircling an area of around 45 metres diameter. The remains of numerous small stone dwellings with small yards and sheds can be found between the inner ditch and the tower. These were built after the tower, but were a part of the settlement's initial conception. A 'main street' connects the outer entrance to the broch. The settlement is the best-preserved of all broch villages.
Pieces of a Roman amphora dating to before 60 AD were found here, lending weight to the record that a 'King of Orkney' submitted to Emperor Claudius at Colchester in 43 AD.
At some point after 100 AD the broch was abandoned and the ditches filled in. It is thought that settlement at the broch continued into the 5th century AD, the period known as Pictish times. By that time the broch was not used anymore and some of its stones were reused to build smaller dwellings on top of the earlier buildings. Until about the 8th century, the site was just a single farmstead.
In the 9th century, a Norse woman was buried at the site in a stone-lined grave with two bronze brooches and a sickle and knife made from iron. Other finds suggest that Norse men were buried here too.