The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Click to see full size Photo © Gavin Stamp
Photo © Gavin Stamp

War memorials

Belgium: St George’s Memorial Church, Ieper

Architect: Sir Reginald Blomfield
Location: Ieper (Ypres)

Of particular British interest is the St George’s Memorial Church in Elverdinghestraat designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield and built 1927-29. The church was a response to an appeal made in 1924 by Field-Marshall Earl of Ypres, formerly Sir John French, the British commander-in-chief in 1914, for a church which would both serve as a memorial to the quarter-million British dead in Flanders and to serve the large British community in Ypres. Indeed, the conspicuous presence of the British in the city caused problems and their high-handed behaviour – acting as if they owned the place – created resentment, particularly among the Flemish Nationalists. When the Menin Gate was opened in 1927, the “commandeering” of the Town Hall for the ceremony without prior consultation with the city council was objected to and both the Nationalists and Socialists feared the event would be a glorification of militarism.

There are also British war cemeteries in the city: the Ramparts Cemetery  near the Lille Gate, the Ypres Reservoir Cemetery at the Western Gate, and the Ypres Town Cemetery & Extension close to the Menin Gate – all by Sir Reginald Blomfield – as well as several cemeteries just outside the city. Of the last, the Assistant Architect, Von Berg, wrote (in 1977) “I remember regarding the great man as rather a fraud since on my asking him for his suggestions for the design of the entrance gates he, after a few vain scribbles, gave up in despair and told me to get on with the job myself!”

Gavin Stamp

The Great War 1914-1918

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