History of Renesse
Zeeland is, as the name suggests, land extracted from the sea. But not all areas were created by dike marshes. For example, on the west side of Schouwen, 3000 years BC, there was already a low coast of beach walls and old dunes. This area has been constantly inhabited since the new Stone Age. For example, archaeologists at Haamstede have found remains of a settlement from around 2460 BC. Archaeological finds in other places in this coastal strip also show that this region has been inhabited for thousands of years. That is not surprising. People lived high and safe enough in this dune hem for the many storm tides that plagued these regions over the centuries. There was fresh water from the dunes and they turned arable land from the relatively flat inland dunes.
The first official mention of Renesse is in a document from 1244. Count William II of Holland and Zeeland gave permission to the monks of Ten Duinen to trade free of tolls and other charges. This deed was drawn up in the house of Costijn van Renesse. This knight lived in the first version of the current Moermond castle.
The ring village that arose around the Jacobus church was then called Riethnesse, derived from reeds and headland (nes or nose). The nickname for the residents of Renesse is ‘zandloapers’. A second, older spot name was ‘geitenbokken’. In the past almost everyone had a goat, who was the cow of the poor. And poverty was an asset in the Westhoek. The soil was poor and the fields and pasture land were regularly threatened by sand drifts.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the first bathers came to Renesse, including names such as Albert Plesman and Anton Pieck. In 1911 a number of progressive notables founded the Vereeniging Renesse Vooruit. The purpose of this association was to draw the attention of foreigners to the tourist qualities of Renesse. The extension of the route from the Zijpe – Brouwershaven steam tram to Burgh made Renesse considerably more accessible from 1915. The first camping site on the Hogezoom was opened in the early 1920s: camping Bona-Fide, where the first summer houses were also built.
After the flood disaster in 1953 came the Delta Plan and from 1965 it was possible to reach the island by motorbike or by car via the Grevelingendam. Due to the flood disaster, the poor agricultural land had become even worse in quality. The first campsites were set up by farmers and fruit growers to generate extra income. Project developers bought plots of land and the first bungalow parks were built.
The Netherlands recovers from the Second World War and a wage explosion follows in the 1960s. From that moment on, vacation is no longer exclusively for the well-to-do. This is the start of mass tourism. The young people discover Renesse and come on a moped to spend their holidays together on the beach. There is a mood that everything is allowed here. There is little else to do. Soon the first places of entertainment come.
Tourism is developing and more and more recreational companies and catering establishments are coming. The youngsters feel at home in Renesse. The village is flourishing and becomes a prosperous village. From 2000 Renesse slowly changes into a family resort. There are large family campsites full of activities and facilities for children, you can eat ice creams and pancakes on the terraces in the village. The area offers everything the bath guest could wish for: you can cycle and walk endlessly. You will find here ‘seas of space and time for yourself’. Seals lie in large numbers on the sandbanks of the coast and are embraced as welcome inhabitants. And still the biggest draw is the wide, quiet and clean beach.