150 years Die Port van Cleve

The 'Garden of Cleve'

Because of the forward thinking of our founders the Hulscher brothers, ‘Die Port van Cleve’ was at the forefront in many cases. ‘De Poort’, for example, played a small role in the emancipation. At the time, it was not at all common for women to go to coffeehouses. In the early years of ‘De Poort’, something that is taken for granted today, was considered indecent by many people. The brothers wouldn’t be the brothers if they wouldn’t play this card effectively.

A small courtyard was hidden behind the beer house, surrounded by the adjoined tall buildings. Although women were not welcome everywhere in the restaurant, this courtyard, which soon affectionately started to bear the name ‘Het Tuintje’ (The little garden), turned out to be the perfect opportunity to respond to this new target group for the brothers. ‘Het Tuintje’ could be reached via both the main entrance of the restaurant and the back entrance on the ‘Spuistraat’ and in the summer months it was always busy with the women and children of the regular restaurant visitors. Extra seats were even created by placing a veranda.

Traditionally, the opening of ‘Het Tuintje’ took place annually on the longest day of the year and this was often reason enough for the newspapers to announce this in a grand way. The fact that women could join their men too, in this case the beer house, could be seen as a true novelty in these times. ‘De Poort’ led the way at the time and made a case for women. ‘Het Tuintje’ developed into a true attraction and a bulky doorman stood outside to ensure that only decent people were allowed. Even the most fashionable women from the city found their way to ‘Het Tuintje’ and during the summer months there was often no place left to sit.

If 'Het Tuintje' got closed again, according to custom on the first of September, women were again cast off from the joys of 'Die Port van Cleve' for a long time and they were therefore 'displeased', to say the least, that they so could no longer control their men during their stay at 'de Poort'. Already in 1871, the men's exclusive rights were brought into question, when no fewer than 100 emancipated women had a protest recorded in the magazine ‘Asmodée’ of October 19.  In wonderful old Dutch they expressed their dissatisfaction with the temporary winter closure of ‘Het tuintje’ and they called on both brothers to ‘... immediately start covering the garden...’

However, it did not get that far, and it was on August 24, 1885 that ‘Het tuintje’ was opened to the public for the very last time. Commercial considerations ensured that the garden would be closed, so that more seats became available for the restaurant after the renovation.

Many women had opened their eyes with the help that the Hulscher brothers had given them through the garden. After all, even after the closure of ‘Het Tuintje’, women continued to visit the beer house. Although this is not confirmed by everyone, a letter from the Dutch writer and literary critic Arnold Ising provides a definitive answer on this. In February 1888 he wrote to his good friend Lodewijk van Deyssel (also a professional writer) how he and his partner Mina had dinner somewhere in Amsterdam, after which he took her to the beer house:

‘...Then I brought her to the ‘Cercle Artistique et Littéraire’ in ‘Die Port van Cleve’. Many members of the 'circle' were present. Breitner was also there with Marie...’

The Dutch painter Breitner, who was known to be frequently in ‘Die Port van Cleve’, like Ising, brought his wife to the beer house as well. It can therefore rightly be stated that ‘Die Port van Cleve’ played a special role in this development and thus the emancipation of women in public places such as restaurants, coffee houses and beer houses.

It all started with woman

By now you know that it was the not so modest opinion of men back in the day, that a cafe or coffee house was by no means a place for a lady. Women were supposed to be a star in the household and take care of the offspring. Women were understandably more than fed up with these views and used more and more opportunities to start a discussion. As mentioned, the Hulscher brothers have made smart use of this and offered women a helping hand through ‘Het Tuintje’, which in the end paved the way at least a bit, to ensure that the taboo within beer and coffeehouses has slowly disappeared.

Today, the vast majority of the world's population will (fortunately) frown at such a gender segregation. That this was even possible ... Utmost remarkable, certainly when one realizes that perhaps world’s greatest contemporary beer brand (Heineken) actually started with a lady: Founder of beer brewery ‘De Hooiberg’, Mrs. Weyntgen Elberts. That beer has always been known as ‘men's beverage’ is therefore at least remarkable. Let alone that, man as such, thought they had exclusive rights to beer houses ...

‘A women’s place is in the kitchen’. A saying that everyone will have come across. That is exactly the place where beer was traditionally brewed: In the kitchen. At the time, this was actually the domain of women, and with that, beer brewing was also in the hands of them. The brews from the own kitchen were primarily intended for consumption by the man of the house. However, due to the abundance of beer that came from the kitchen, they started to sell more and more. As a result, regulations were also placed on the beers and to provide this, real brewing guilds were created. It can be guessed who founded these guilds: Indeed, the men of this world.

The brewing guilds ensured that rules were drawn up for brewing. This of course benefited the quality and taste and with that the popularity of this alcoholic refreshment quickly increased. It was therefore not long before the brewing process of the kitchen was moved to increasingly larger breweries. The beer industry had started, although it was no longer in the hands of women. This world was now in the hands of men. Looking back at what once was didn’t appear any longer, so out of respect for where it all started, a courteous bow and raising the glass: To Mrs. Weyntgen Elberts and all brewers of that time!

Make your booking now!

  • Best Available Rate
  • Simpel and secure
  • directly at our hotel