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History Het Arresthuis

From 1666 to 1794, one of the buildings that still make up Het Arresthuis today was a bishop’s palace and also home to prelates of the Catholic Church. The Damianz Restaurant at Het Arresthuis, is named after the penultimate bishop under French rule, Damianus de Rijksgraaf van Hoensbroek. This restaurant is situated in the former archives building. The bishop’s palace is only part of the current building and has served many different purposes over the years. It has also been a military hospital, magazine, barracks and Halls of Justice.

Roermond came under French rule after the French Revolution. The French general, Miranda, lived in the bishop’s palace on Pollartstraat, then known as Hegstraat. Much changed under Napoleon’s rule, including the penal system. Independent judges administered criminal justice, a number of punishments such as burning, strangling and breaking on the wheel were abolished, and the death penalty became an exception. From then on, restriction of freedom became a punishment. People thought that to have one’s freedom restricted was the worst thing that could happen. This new way of punishing offenders meant that Roermond needed a house of detention (or prison). In 1866 the Netherlands got its own Penal Code.

This house of detention was for small-time criminals and those awaiting trial. The house of detention was first located on the site of the Abbess of the Munster Abbey (now the Munster Church), and not where the current Het Arresthuis can be found. In 1830, a new period of turmoil began. The people rebelled against the Dutch king, and the military police were responsible for maintaining order. The military police left Het Arresthuis, as did the jailer, and a civil servant from Roermond took over their duties. Being jailed in the house of detention was not too bad in those days: prisoners could buy refreshments and the odd beer was drunk in De Windmolen café.

Between 1858 and 1863, a house of arrest, designed by Allard Pierson, was built where the chancellery of the Gelder court used to stand. This chancellery had been used by William I to house the military police in the past, after the merging of Belgium and the Netherlands. Once the building works were completed, the house of arrest was renamed ‘the house of detention’. In 1863 this building became a state prison, in place of the Abbess’ house. This location for a prison was by no means a coincidence, as it was right next to the bishop’s palace, which was used as Halls of Justice from 1822 to 1996.

The house of detention was enlarged a number of times between 1913 and 1916. A new wing was built on Dionisiusstraat and a building to house the archives was erected between the bishop’s palace and the prison. The prison also had stables on the corner of Dionisiusstraat and Geeststraat. The surrounding wall, built partially in 1860 and 1915, also belongs to the prision. From 2000 to 2002 the house of detention on Pollartstraat stood empty as a new prison was being built on the Keulsebaan. From 2002 to 2007 the house of detention served as temporary measure for the so-called ‘body packer’ drug smugglers (Stichting Ruimte Roermond, 2011).

Het Arresthuis was constructed between 2009 and 2011on the former site of the house of detention.

Het Arresthuis was officially opened on 18 April 2011. And is now a venue where guests can enjoy a carefree and relaxed stay.