Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist


Ypres- or Ieper, as the locals prefer- got trashed in the Great War. The British were in and around the town and the Germans were on the higher ground to the north (There is no really high ground in Flanders) and the bombardment was continuous. Look at pictures taken towards the end of the War and just about the only thing still standing- only it's a shapeless lump of weevil-eaten brickwork- is the hollow stump of the Cloth Hall tower. Afterwards there was a proposal to leave things exactly as they were- as a monument to the dead- but the people of Ypres understandably wanted their town back- and took the extraordinary decision to rebuild it- medieval Cloth Hall and cathedral and all-  exactly as it had been. When it came to the cathedral- which was- as churches often are- an accretion of many hundred of years- they rebuilt the Romanesque bits as Romanesque and the early Gothic bits as early Gothic and the late Gothic bits as late Gothic. Modern Ypres looks like a miraculous survival of the high middle ages, but is, in fact,  almost entirely a creation of the 1920s. 

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