About the famous Van Aytta family who lived in Swichum.
Undoubtedly Wirdum and Swichum's most famous son is Viglius (Wigle) van
Aytta, who was born at Barrahūs (Wirdum) in 1507. He grew up at Aytta State
at Swichum and died in Brussels in 1577.
He was a very clever man and one of the most prominent scholars of law in
the Europe of his time.
As a statesman he played a role in Dutch History. He was chairman of the
Council of State and a member of the Great Council. However the post for
which he is most known was that of member of the Private Council ("Achterraad").
This council consisted of three members only, the other two
were cardinal Granvelle and baron Berlaymont. It was this council that held
the real power during the early years of the independence war against
In 1573 Viglius ordered the building in Swichum of the "Aytta House of
God", in honour of his uncle Barnard Bucho van Aytta, in who's care he was
Barnard himself was born on "Aytta State" and had studied Theology and Law.
The house "Aytta House of God" was used as a home for elderly lower class
people from the area. They could live there without paying, under condition
that they went to the Church for the honour of Swichum and the Van Aytta
But it didn't last long. The properties were sold and later on you had to
pay a grand nephew of Viglius (a regent) to rent a room, entirely in
contradiction to the intentions of the founder.
The castle "Aytta State" is nowadays a farm whilst the "Aytta House of God"
doesn't exist anymore,
it was demolished in 1913. On the picture below you can see the "Aytta
House of God" next to the church in Swichum. (source: "feestboekje 1966/1967").