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PREHISTORY – THE BIG HOUSE OF LONDON – PARTY HALL DE BUCK

The house of Bruges – A building in central Bruges with a rich history !

In the late middle ages, the building complex on the Sint-Jansplein/Ieperstraat is a part of the big house of London, situated on the Cordoeaniersstraat 17-19. At the end of the 16th century, a couple of houses and a large gate are described in the archives.

The gate functions as a rear entrance for the house of London. In 1778, the entire building complex is property of the rich canon Joannes van Outryve who will leave it to his niece Maria-Petronella de Stappens- van Outryve (1748 – 1814). The house of London and adjacent buildings had been rented by Mary Anne van Outryne since 1720. She was an entrepreneurial saleswoman and aunt to the canon. (Her carreer is detailed in the project OMD 2007  ‘Veelvuldige Chineesche Gezichten. Chinabelangstelling in Brugge in de 18de en 19de eeuw’)

Mary Anne van Outryve was born in Ooigem in 1674 and moved to Bruges in 1699. In 1715, she and her sister start ‘The society for goods and commerce’. Originally, Mary Anne only did textile trade.

As soon as the Oostendse company would import products from China, she bought large shipments of tea. She had an extended trading network at her disposal that reached outside of Flanders to France and even England.

It is surprising that she did not buy any property in Bruges, despite being well off. In her store, the house of London, she welcomes the French king Lodewijk XV in 1745 together with the crown prince. They would buy multiple eastern wares. There is no denying that Mary Anne Outryve enjoyed international fame. She died in 1746 but her sister Catherine and later also her nephew Augustin van Outryve would continue the trading house. Augustin would later buy the property in the Cordoeaniersstraat and the Sint-Jansplein and live there with canon Joannes van Outryve.

In first quarter of the 19th century, the back of the house of London on the Sint-Jansplein was converted into a seperate residential property and definitively seperated from the building in the Cardoeaniersstraat (That served as a postal office in the middle of the 19th century).

There are no records of any owners on the Sint-Jansplein between 1809 and 1833.

Starting from 1834, Eulalie de Stappens, her husband Henri Napoleon Mortier, their three children Henri, Napoleon and Malvina, the coachman Felix Stragier and the two maids Virgine Janssens and Amelie Barbier lived in the renovated complex that was converted to a house with coach house. The current plastered facade dates from those renovations. Sint-Jansplein/Ieperstraat was still an heirloom that was passed down through the Van Outryve family to the De Stappens. Malvina and Napoleon Mortier would sell the property in 1870 to Emilius Declerq. He would in his turn expand the property and convert it in 1881.

It would become property of lithographer Victor Daveluy, who would convert the property on the Ieperstraat into a stone printing company. In 1895, the property was owned by pressman and publisher Eduard Geûens-Seaux, who would expand the stone printing company by adding another floor to the building, redesign the house at the square and at shop fronts. In 1913, the widow Geûens commissions the architect Etienne Timmery (1858 – 1926) to redesign the building even more drastically. The bay window above the gate dates from 1913.

PARTY HALL DE BUCK

The building was rented by Medard De Buck in 1922 and was owned by C. Sentroul, pastor of the Saint-Walburg church in Veurne.

Caterer Medard De Buck bought the property in 1935 and commissioned architect Maurice Vermeersch (1901–1977) to draw the renovation plans. The application (104/1935) foresees : To seperate the property from Sint-Jansplein 5 into two seperate houses , placing two front doors, a gate and roller shutters, changing the inside lay-out, the building of appurtenances and three coal dumps in the sidewalk.

The building in the Ieperstraat had most likely already been changed to De Buck’s plans to make it into a party hall, as the hall is marked on the plans since 1935. The adjustments to the interior into art deco style to the design of M. Vermeersch were performed by plasterer Standaert. The firm Standaert were also involved in the renovations of 2004-2005. The decorative painting was done by Curd Vercruysse.

Architect Maurice Vermeersch is still known in Bruges for his restauration work and his more traditional new construction designs inside the city.

He built a lot of new buildings in the ringlaan in a mixed style but he started more modern designs in Christus-Koning. He used Art Deco style  there as well there , typical for the interbellum (see the bike tour : ‘Maurice and Maurice’).

Medard De Buck’s party hall would be one of the most popular places for weddings  and parties in Bruges until the end of 1950. De Buck had been a renowned caterer since the start of the century. In 1910, he became chairman of the United Servants. This unity would provide catering in the homes of families.

Caterers and servants became more prominent in the second half of the 18th century. Multiple names of Bruges caterers are well known.

De Buck’s customers are even speculated to have suggested he turn his home on Sint-Jansplein into a part hall. The stone printing factory was then turned into a contemporary party hall.

Not many records are available of this hall. Could they possible still be privately owned ?

De Buck’s successors sold the complex and they were turned into offices and storage for the R.T.T. (Regie van Telefoon en Telegraaf. This had negative effects on the building and the spiral stairs were badly damaged. The party hall became unrecognisable. In 1990, new owners were being searched for. Diverse applications to turn the building block into appartments were denied by the city. It was only in 2005 that the decision was made to turn them into multiple-family homes.

The rectangular hall (20.50m x 8.20m) was fitted into the two-story high brick building. The party hall was worked out on two levels. Iron pillars, now marble, carry the open walkways of the second floor. From here , you could observe the people partying downstairs or have a drink in one of the seating corners. These walkways are accessible via the platform staircase that splits to the left and right halfway through. On the back wall, a half elevated sculpture in art deco style is visible.

Partyhall de buck

Party room ‘’De Buck ‘’ is now the beautiful Art Deco breakfast hall in House of Bruges. Breakfast is always included in your booking so you will always be able to enjoy this gorgeous interior. ​