The convent on the Nieuwstraat is a remainder of late nineteenth-century Catholicism in Breda. In 1899, a local order of nuns bought a row of houses on the Nieuwstraat. They had part of it taken down in order to build a chapel and to start a convent.
The originally medieval houses are appropriately named Waelwijk, Bruheze and Assendelft. Although both the exterior and interior have been altered over the years, the sixteenth-century staircase tower in Huis Assendelft can still be seen from certain angles.
Poor catholic families were offered shelter on the Nieuwstraat. Orphans were strictly divided between catholic or protestant and rich or poor at the time. Rich catholic orphans had their own orphanage on the Sint Janstraat. The rich protestant orphans resided in the orphanage on the Kloosterplein.
The schools that the nuns used to teach at were situated just across the street. A tunnel runs below the street between the schools and the convent so the nuns never had to go out on the street. This tunnel is the only ‘secret passage’ that actually exists. There are many stories about other secret passages in the convent although none of them are true.
Hotel Nassau Breda is now situated in the fully renovated houses and chapel.