Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Delft
DELFT, a town of Holland, in the province of South Holland, on the Schie, nearly ten miles from Rotterdam, and in the line of the canal between that city and the Hague. It is well and regularly built in the form of a square, but has a rather gloomy appearance from its streets being traversed by narrow stagnant canals. The public buildings comprise the Prinsenhof, or palace, where William of Orange was assassinated in 1584; the town-house, erected in 1618, with antiquarian and artistic collections; the Old Church, dating from the 11th century, and containing monuments to Van Tromp and Piet Hein, and the tomb of Leeuwenhoek, the naturalist; the New Church, founded in 1381, and interesting both for its chime of 500 bells, and as the burial-place of the princes of the house of Orange from the days of the Liberator down to the present century; the arsenal, originally erected as a warehouse for the East India Company; and the polytechnic school, with the fine collection of mechanical models formerly preserved in the dockyard at Amsterdam. It is sufficient to mention the powder-magazine, the school of military engineering, the theatre, the municipal school for the education of civil service students for the colonies, the school of design, the lunatic asylum, and Madame Renswonde’s orphanage. For a long time the name of Delft was associated, not only in Holland, but even abroad, with the manufacture of excellent earthenware; but this industry, as well as the beer-brewing which was of great importance last century, has become almost extinct. The present branches are carpet-weaving, cooperage, dyeing, and distilling. The town was founded about 1075 by Duke Geoffrey of Lorraine after his conquest of Holland from Count Thierry. It was almost totally ravaged by fire in 1536; and in 1654 it lost about 1200 of its population by the explosion of a powder-magazine. In 1797 the Christo Sacrum Society was founded by Onder van Vyngaard-Ceanzius, the burgomaster of the city, for the Utopian purpose of uniting in one community all the various branches of the Christian church. Of the celebrities of the town the most famous is Grotius, whose tomb is shown in the New Church. Population in 1874, 23,900.