This “Gezigt van de St. Pieters Kerk,” reproduced from a colored engraving in a series of Dutch views apparently dating from the late 18th century, shows the shops and houses then abutting the Gothic structure. The church, built 1294–1339 and the largest in the city, is in the oldest part of Leyden, had a number of American associations, and was geographically central to the Adamses' activities while they were in Leyden. John Robinson, pastor of the English Separatist congregation that settled in Leyden in 1608, lived in a house on the Kloksteeg (Bell Lane) facing the Pieterskerk, and he was buried within the church in 1625, five years after a substantial part of his congregation sailed to America and founded Plymouth Colony. The names of Robinson and his Pilgrim followers evoked feelings of piety among all the Adamses, although their historical and topographical
information about the Pilgrims' sojourn in Leyden was, like that of many Americans who have visited there since, faulty. See below, John Quincy Adams to John Adams, 21
, 22 December 1780
, and notes there. Most helpful for topographical orientation is the diagram in Henry Martyn Dexter and Morton Dexter, The England and Holland of the Pilgrims
, Boston and New York, 1905, p. 531.
The Adams boys while in Leyden, December 1780 – June 1781, lived on a narrow curving street called the Lange Brug (Long Bridge) behind the great church and must therefore have often passed through the Pieterskerkhof and by the former Pilgrim colony back of Robinson's house (where the exiles' worship was conducted) on their way to and from the University, which was just across the Rapenburg [canal] from these sites. See No. 9 below.