Some will know, and at the same time some people will not know that Shrewsbury is twinned with a city in the Netherlands called Zutphen. Both have a twinning committee that keeps communications and organises visits between us both.

Why Zutphen, where is it etc etc. Those were the questions I asked a few years ago when I first became aware of our twinning. I will try my best to answer the questions above and explain a little about the place its people.

The memorial placed at the point where Sir Philip Sidney fell mortally wounded at the battle of Zutphen on the 22nd September 1586. (He died in a house in Arnheim on 17th October 1586) A plaque was unveiled there in October 2011 by Christiaan te Strake, Zutphen Museums and Twinning Committee.

Sir Philip Sydney was born in Kent in 1554 but lived in Shrewsbury before being sent by Queen Elizabeth under the forces of the Earl of Leicester to defeat the Spanish army that defended Zutphen from the rebels. The Spanish sent a releif column and on the 22nd September 1586 the British attempted to intercept and defeat it. The British had to retreat after suffering huge losses, one being Sir Philip Sidney, who was the Earl of Leicesters nephew. Sir Philip died on the 17th October 1586 in a house in Arnheim. The battle was lost, but Sir Philip Sidney’s name lives on to this day, as does his then home town of Shrewsbury with the people of Zutphen.

Zutphen was at one time within the loop of two rivers, and like Shrewsbury suffered floods, as it still does. To ease the problem they diverted one river away and used watergates and a canal to maintain some form of control. Below shows a model of Zutphen that is in the Council Building.

Model of Zutphen showing the River Ijssel on the left. The River Berkel was diverted from its original route, which ran through the lower right corner of the model where the lakes can be seen, and then it ran up the right side of the model causing a loop, as we have in Shrewsbury.

Where is it I hear you ask, well Zutphen is a city in the province of Gelderlandin the Netherlands. It lies some 30km North-east of Arnhem, on the eastern bank of the river IJsselat the point where it is joined by the Berkel. The name Zutphen (first mentioned in the eleventh century) appears to mean ‘zuid-veen’ or in English, south-fen.


In 2005 the municipality of Zutphen was merged with the municipality of Warnsveld, retaining its name. The municipality has about 47,000 inhabitants.

The Netherlands remained neutral throughout the First World War, and when Hitler in the 1930′s started to become more of a force, many German Jews left Germany and moved across the border into the Netherlands. They thought that the Netherlands would be a safe haven and be a neutral country as in 1914-18, therfore the exodus was so great that refugee camps had to be provided to house them all. one such camp was Westerbork in the northeast part of the Netherlands. (The same camp that soon became a transit camp to Auschwitzand Burgen-Belson).

Unfortunately the German army invaded the Netherlands and within five days the whole country and its people were held in a vice like grip throughout the war. After the invasion of the Netherlands in May 1940, a civil administration was installed under SS auspices. Arther Seyss-Inquart was appointed Reich Commissar. He presided over a German administration who in turn supervised the Dutch civil service. This arrangement was to prove fateful for the Jews living in the Netherlands.

Cemetery at Zutphen

We joined our friends in Zutphen this year on the 1st May for a week of remembrance, In the UK we remember mainly the members of the forces who died in the war, but in the Netherlands due to occupation their rememberance is all about the civillian suffering. We started off visiting the house of Ann Frank, we followed the journey she was made to travel to Westerbork. We visited Arnham and the military cemetery at Oosterbeek, the civilian cemetery as well as many museums and the site of V1 launching site, plus the grave of two resistance fighters who are buried on the site of an hidden underground resistance bunker who were then betrayed to the Germans.

On the 4th May at 6pm we paraded from the Council office in Zutphen to the remembrance memorial and I placed a wreath accompanied throughout the ceromony by my equerries Holly Amy Brown and Craig Bellis who are both Air Cadets from 1119 squadron Shrewsbury. 

Holly and Craig in uniform as they were for the parade.

Holly 2nd left Craig 2nd right enjoying a drink in Oosterbeek Arnham with their host families

The military cemetery at Oosterbeek Arnham

All of us felt sadness as we read the ages of people who had died both civilian and armed forces personel, but the two Cadets were affected most when seeing people aged the same age or younger than they are on the gravestones.

If we can remember the past then we should not make the same mistakes in the future.


Here I am with the Mayor of Zutphen in the Council offices in Zutphen

Below are a collection of pictures taken in and around Zutphen in the first week of May 2011. I hope you enjoy them.

Helen Ball Shrewsbury Town Council Clark well into the street cafe culture

The canal that diverted the river, you can see one of the old watergates in the background

A old Watergate that was used to control flooding.

Centre of Zutphen

"A" Boards, parked vehicles on pavements and general street scene just like Shrewsbury

An old hospital, now turned into flats.

Please follow the links below to find out more about Zutphen.




Below is a pictorial of Roberts  cycle tour of the weekend 24th, 25th 26th and 27th June 2011. Robert is a keen cyclist completing a run from Lands End to John O Groats, plus a couple or maybe three runs from London to Paris just to name two events he has done for charity.

Robert is also well known in Zutphen due to his commitment to the twinning of the two towns, and as such the Twinning Committee sponsored his trip as it was an official organised cycling event.


Just for the records Robert is the one dressed in the dark gear, yet I think he may have worn the yellow jersey at least once. To these guys 140k  is just like a trip to the local shops for the rest of us, even then I admit to using the car. I did offer to ride behind them in a white van as the support team, but got turned down, so there was no second trip to Zutphen for me, I just love the place and the people so will have to try and work on a return trip somehow!.

But well done Robert, and you did come back fitter and leaner so it must be healthy.

I am hoping to bring you pictures of the Mayors secretary Carol, as she also went on a cycling trip at the same time but did a different route at a more sedate pace. Carol was also sponsored by the Zutphen Committee for this sporting weekend.

The whole point of our twinning is to exchange cultural and leasure pursuits via exchange visits, staying with host families, living within each others communities.

16 Responses to ZUTPHEN

  1. Ger Claassen says:

    Thank you for your kind words!
    Regards from Ger Claassen, membe of the twinningcommittee!

    • I loved Zutphen so much and my host family made me feel like being at home. The people of Zutphen are really lovely. I am looking forward to the party visiting us in November. The next visit I make to Zutphen will be with my wife, as I know how much she missed not being able to join me in May this year. Thank you for your comments Tony & Tricia

  2. Christiaan te Strake says:

    Great to read such nice things of our town and twinning.
    Hope the twinning will stay alive and kicking also for the youths of our Towns.

    Christiaan te Strake, Zutphen Museums and Twinning committee

    Minor detail: Sir Philip Sidney died on the 17 octobre 1586 in Arnheim. A commemorative monument was unveiled at the house he died in only last month. I gave a speech and talked about the twinning as well on that occasion.

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  15. Owen lewis says:

    A lovely town indeed and from my recollection the Dutch are so proud and patriotic of their country and its history. it must have been awful through the dark days of Nazi Occupation. Thank goodness they ended and Zutphen is a beautiful free town. Looking forward to going out there on 3rd of October with the twinning committee. I last went in 1995 and it was a great trip. I was even engaged to A Zutphen girl for a year or so and my trips became regular in my early twenties. I was always made to feel welcome and the love they have for us Salopians is a great joy and priviledge. Roll on Wednesday.
    Owen Lewis

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