The first written mention of the name Nieuwkoop dates back to 1282. According to a legend, Nieuwkoop was founded by a group of gypsies in the 12th century. The wheel of their cart broke and they couldn’t travel any further. They decided to settle in this region. The broken wheel can be seen in the civic crest, however it has nothing to do with the true story of Nieuwkoop and it’s founders. It was actually founded by a community of people who extracted the peat that created the lakes and meadows.
Originally the inhabitants of Nieuwkoop lived mainly from agriculture and cattle breeding. From the 16th century onwards, peat became the biggest source of income. Because people were digging up peat, big and deep lakes were created, these became known as the Nieuwkoop Lakes. This caused a lot of flooding. In the 17th century, the water management situation became much better with the building of mills and locks, and at the end of the 18th century a reclamation of part of the lakes was decided. The remaining part of the lakes is now an important recreational area. In the 20th century Nieuwkoop expanded significantly. Since 1950, the population has nearly tripled. The municipality of Nieuwkoop grew bigger in 2007 when Ter Aar, Nieuwveen and Zevenhoven were added to it.
Life in Nieuwveen and Zevenhoven was largely determined by the peat that was present. The first inhabitants settled at the end of the 11th century on the newly created lands and lived from cattle farming and agriculture. Around the year 1300 they started digging up the peat and soon most of the population focussed on this work. In the cities there was a big demand for peat, which is very useful as a form of fuel when it’s dried. At first only the top layers were dug up, but with the invention of special machines around the year 1530, the peat below the water level could also be extracted. Lakes formed because of this, and years later these had to be reclaimed. This cost a lot of money. Thanks to these new lands, however, the inhabitants could again focus on agriculture and cattle breeding. This is still the main source of income in the area.
Confusingly, the town of Ter Aar was previously called Langeraar. Langeraar was swept away in 1788 because of a dam breach at the Braassemermeer and was rebuilt close to the lakes we now call Langeraar Lakes. On the old location of Langeraar, another town was built and was named Ter Aar. This town became famous for the preserving of pickles, apple sauce and onions.
Papenveer got its name from a ferry over the river Aar. In the year 1822, the Catholic Church in Korteraar was abolished, so the inhabitants had to go to church in Langeraar. The ferry was used by these Catholics. Papenveer used to have many auctions for locally produced vegetables; the train from Amsterdam to Alphen even had a special branch line to get the vegetables from Papenveer. Nowadays, both the train route and the auction halls are gone.
More information about the history of the municipality of Nieuwkoop can be found on the website of the Cultuur Historische Vereniging Ter Aar, the Historische Kring Liemeer and 't Historisch Genootschap Nieuwkoop. Of course you can also visit one of the museums of our municipality.