The Cloth Hall in Ypres, then and now.

Brushed With Mystery

ImageThe scribbled handwriting names this photo ‘the cloth hall in Ypres.’ Haunting as a ghost of itself; reminiscent of Henry the VIII’s destruction of the abbeys- only a few walls remain. The space is a barren land. It would take someone of great imagination to fashion what it would have looked like before the war. How did Belgium handle this violation?

Started in 1200 and considered complete on 1304, the Hall stood as a testament of the life of Gothic splendour: an ancient mall of sorts. Used as a storage house for textiles, on market day the place would have been be alive with industry in its primal sense: the sale of natural resources. The upper floors, harbour the more artistic rooms-frescoes and paintings that idealize the boom time of the hall- some 200 years in the middle ages. Here textile dealers would come to discuss and sell wares, the…

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  1. The Cloth Hall has a long and sometimes difficult history. It was rebuilt after the Great War using funds from German reparations. The reconstruction was completing just as WW II got underway. The Cloth Hall houses, among other things, the Flanders Field Museum.

    John Snow

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