Between 1650 and 1675 it was a certain Willem Everwijn(† 1673) who, it appears, systematically purchased a large number of farms, land and pastures on both sides of the IJssel. On the west side the hamlet of De Steeg. Willem lived in Arnhem, where he held the office of collector of convoys and licences, import and export tolls levied by the States General on the borders of the Republic of the United Netherlands. He appears to have been a competent financial expert and administrator, because in 1661 he was elected member of the board of the fraternity of St Nicolai in Arnhem. Two years later he was even elected Master of this prosperous fraternity, a position that gave him control over the properties of the fraternity and which still exists to this day.
Also in matters of the heart, he showed himself to be someone who takes a well-considered decision. He married Johanna Kelffken, one of the daughters of the utriusque juris Doctor Johan Kelffken († 1652). Johan Kelffken was counsellor (and during the last five months of his life in fact the president) of the Supreme Court of the Principality of Gelre and of the County of Zutphen. This marriage earned Willem Everwijn a lot of prestige, because the Kelffken family belonged to the regent and patrician families in both Nijmegen and Arnhem. Since the 16th century, many members of these families have been members, alderman or mayor of the City Councils of these two main cities of Gelderland.
Financially this marriage was probably so advantageous for Willem, that it allowed him to finance his land acquisition policy in De Steeg, Rheden and surrounding area. As a local large landowner, he was elected Holzrichter of the Waldmarken Genossenschaft of the Rheden forests in the 1660s. A position that gave him another opportunity to expand his land ownership. Perhaps he then already planned to build a house here. However, that did not happen because Willem Everwijn died on 29 September 1673.
Later on, in 1698 his eldest daughter Nalida Everwijn(1661-1737) married Hendrik Brantsen (1665-1742). She was the only one of his three daughters who married. She brought into the marriage all the land that her father owned in De Steeg and in the surrounding area. Hendrik Brantsen, since 1705 Mayor of Arnhem, also came from an extremely rich Arnhem family of regents and magistrates. Like his father, he also strove to expand and improve his land tenure in De Steeg and the area west of De Steeg.
After his father’s death, his second son Willem Reynier Brantsen(1701-1789) inherited all the land he owned in Rheden and De Steeg. His two brothers also inherited an equal area of land. Willem Reynier Brantsen, a Doctor of Law, also became mayor of Arnhem in 1735 and two years later counsellor at the Provincial Court. Throughout his life he devoted himself to his favourite hobby: scientific research. That was how he preferred to spend his time; he never married. Willem Reynier Brantsen made a thorough study of all, mainly foreign, literature in the field of forestry and soon after the death of his father he decided to use his knowledge to carry out new afforestation on his land. At first, he turned to the renowned architect, decorator and landscape architect Jacob Marot, son of the famous Daniel Marot. He sent him various designs of gardens in the ‘classic’ French style ‘more geometrico’, which had been preserved in the family archives. At the heart of these gardens lies the house that was actually built during the years 1746 and 1747 by Willem Reynier Brantsen at the place where it now stands. On a hill, called Stickenberg, where there was a derelict farmhouse named Stickhuysen.
The house that was built at that time only consisted of the middle part of the current building and it was much simpler in design. It was a rectangular, two-storey building, with a front door and a back door in the middle; on the left and right, flanked by two fairly tall windows, and on the top floor five rectangular windows at the front and the back. A roof without windows and in the two side walls only two windows on each floor, which means that the house must have been much narrower at the time. Rhederoord owes its present form to several renovations in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Basically, Willem Reynier Brantsen was less interested in the house than in landscaping the gardens surrounding it. It is not clear whether he actually started laying out the gardens according to the Marot design. What is clear however, is that Brantsen’s ideas with regard to the landscaping of the gardens completely changed during the 2nd half of the 18th century. His private archives contain various designs of garden and landscape architects from this period, which exude a completely different atmosphere: not the more formal classical French style with its geometric shapes, such as squares, rectangles, triangles and circles, but more natural designs in the English landscape style: groups of trees with green meadows alternating with winding paths. Although shrunken to 12 hectares, the current design of the gardens proves that this English landscape style was actually realized. The question remains, why Willem Reynier changed his mind. As mentioned earlier, scientific research was his greatest hobby and in the second half of the 18th century the English landscape garden became the new fashion. Towards the end of the 18th century Gelderland already had about fifteen castles and country estates with these modern gardens. Willem Reynier Brantsen was clearly one of the pioneers of this new gardening style. In any case, it is certain that in 1768 stadtholder Willem V consulted him when he intended to change and modernize the afforestation and landscaping of the garden of his hunting manor near Dieren. Rhederoord was already a well-known and renowned attraction during the last 25 years of the 18th century This was not primarily due to the house, but much more to the magnificent view of the IJssel – to be enjoyed from a raised terrace on the west side of the house – and also to the gardens with their multifarious exotics.
Rhederoord remained in possession of the Brantsen family until 1911, although the estate passed through inheritance to other branches of the family. In 1911, the estate was purchased by N.J.H. van Hasselt. In 1919 the last private residents, the Van Heeckeren van Kellfamily, moved into the house. During the 1920s the most western part of the gardens was purchased by the municipality of Rheden for house building purposes. This is where the exclusive rural residential neighbourhood ‘Rozenbosch’ was built. The remainder, with the exception of the 12 hectares belonging to the house, fortunately fell to the Society for the Preservation of Nature (Vereniging Natuurmonumenten). The estate was rented to an international school between 1953 and 1977. In 1977 Rhederoord was sold to the Dutch Christian Community Association and served as a conference centre and a holiday resort. The estate has been privately owned since 2004.
"Welcome to Landgoed Rhederoord, the best kept secret of the Veluwe. We are delighted to welcome you to our comfortable and authentic manor house or our culinary treasure, the Rhederoord Koetshuis Restaurant. We offer pure quality, an organic cuisine and genuine hospitality. We invite you to come and discover our secrets!"Bart-Jan Hallers Director