Godshuis Gardens in Belgium

We’ve been in Belgium for two weeks now – filling our time slowly with the treasures of the region.  We are staying in Brugge, and I’ve been fascinated with often seen medieval houses that usually have a name and number printed on the side.  These ‘Godshuizen’ tend to also have pretty little gardens attached, so I spent a day riding my bike to all that I could find here and made a study of them.

Godshuis in Brugges by rochelle greayer www.pithandvigor.com

Literally translated, Goshuizen would mean ‘Houses of God’ but this translation is a little misleading.  They are not churches or places of worship but rather they are houses for the poor and needy.  They are in fact housing for the poor, needy, elderly and widows and widowers that were built by rich families and corporations as early as the 14th century.   Sometimes the houses were constructed by corporations or guilds, for their members who had lost their income or were unable to work because of illness, handicaps or other mishaps.

Goshuis garden in brugge belgium by rochelle greayer www.pithandvigor.com

Most of the time these houses form a complex around an inner courtyard where the inhabitants can get their water and grow vegetables in little gardens (though most of the ones I saw, contained many more flowers than edible crops).

goshuis garden in brugge belgium by rochelle greayer www.pithandvigor.com

They also typically have also have a chapel where the people are supposed to pray for the souls of their benefactors – but this is the only religious obligation.

Godshuis in Brugges by rochelle greayer www.pithandvigor.com

Many of these remain today and many of them have the sweetest most charming gardens.

ehinops and goldenrod garden by rochelle greayer www.pithandvigor.com

-Rochelle

image by rochelle greayer

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rochelle greayer

Hi, I'm Rochelle and for 18 years I have worked as a landscape designer, author/writer, and design teacher. I've designed residential and hospitality (for hotels, restaurants, and spas) gardens across the USA and in the UK, Europe and the Middle East. After many years of teaching garden design topics in person, I launched the PITH + VIGOR Boot Camp series in early 2018. Through my blog, social media, and online courses (Garden Design Bootcamp and Planting Design Boot Camp) I aim to help homeowners learn how to confidently design and create home gardens that reflect their own personal and unique style.

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