Pearl of De Langstraat: Stichting Bende van de Witte Veer

| Toby van Dijk

Diving into the past, we love to do that, it remains exciting what happened in the past. There is also an exciting story to tell about Brabant in the early 1700s, namely the story of The White Feather Gang. This gang was particularly active in De Langstraat to a great extent. Today I am taken by Arieyne Schoormans into the story behind the Gang of the White Feather and everything around it.

I have an appointment at Abdijhof Mariënkroon in Nieuwkuijk. I am on the early side, so I wait outside. Waiting is not a bad thing at this magnificent location, because the beautiful buildings and nature don't give your eyes a moment's rest.

After Arieyne arrives, we walk together to the reception. Here we are kindly received by a hostess. My eye immediately catches the beers from Gang van de Witte Veer that I see on display. More about this later! Arieyne takes me through the amazing corridors of the abbey to finally end up in the abbey cellar. A special place for the Gang of the White Feather, because above the cellar used to be the Castle Onsenoort. At the time, the castle stood on the border between Holland and State Brabant, Arieyne explains. ''Why is that border so important,'' I ask. Arieyne says: ''The gang, led by Swarte Johannes, went robbing in Holland, but couldn't stay here. They were wanted in Holland, so they jumped over the ditch at Onsenoort Castle to retreat to the safe State of Brabant.'' Today, only a residential tower remains of Onsenoort Castle. Arieyne tells the story in a way that makes me completely envision the gang members jumping the ditch here.

From outside, we turn back into the cellar. ''So this is where I give my beer tastings,'' Arieyne says. It all started with the first beer ''Swarte Johannes,'' a ''HirstoricPorter'' I read on the label of the bottle. I ask Arieyne why she started brewing the beers, to which she replies, ''I want to let people taste the story, to stimulate those extra senses.'' After the "Swarte Johannes," other beers have followed, such as "Schèèle Griet," "Blommeraandje" and "D'n Drossaard. Named after the aliases the gang members used. ''They are seven Gang beers, each with their own character, each with a different dialect from the Langstraat,'' says Arieyne, who herself does not like special beers at all, haha.

''The beer tastings are truly an experience'', according to Arieyne. From minute one the guests are taken along by Arieyne and her extras in the story of the Gang of the White Feather, and of course with the Gang beers. ''There is a pub atmosphere inside, a kind of old tavern-like idea,'' she says. She won't give everything away, ''the rest is up to you to come and experience for yourself,'' she finally adds.

Besides the beer tastings, which by the way can be booked on request through the website, Stichting Bende van de Witte Veer is especially busy organizing the third edition of the GangFestijn. ''In the weekend of June 3 and 4, we are organizing the BendeFestijn, here, on the grounds of Onsenoort Castle and Mariënkroon Abbey,'' Arieyne says enthusiastically. ''And what should I picture myself doing at such a Gang Fest?'', I ask. ''In these two days we will take visitors into the life of around the beginning of the 18th century, the time when the Gang was action,'' Arieyne explains. Thus, there will be various activities for young and old, including workshops in bushcraft and rope tying, as well as re-enactment, four different theater acts and free (children's) activities, one of which has the playful name of ''Bende Thou 'n echte Rover.'' ''You can't really get any closer to the White Feather Gang,'' Arieyne opines.

I thank Arieyne for telling me so passionately about the Gang and everything around it. And I hope that one day she will answer the question: "Am I one of the gang?

Did the blog make you curious about the complete story of Gang of the White Feather? Do you fancy stepping into the old tavern with a group and tasting the Gang beers? Would you like to be included in the life of the Gang for one day at the Gang Fest? Then click here to visit the White Feather Gang Foundation website.

Would you like to learn the story of the White Feather Gang by bicycle? Then see how you can do that here.


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There is plenty to see and experience in De Langstraat. Read about it in our inspiration magazine.

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