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The Pilgrims to Ypres – WW1 Talk

October 30 @ 7:30 pm - 8:30 pm


The Pilgrims to Ypres’, and the price of war on the cityby Mark Connelly

By the time of the Armistice, Ypres was already a legend throughout the British Empire. Five battles had been fought around the city which had turned it, and its surrounding hinterland, into a devastated wasteland. But, this devastated zone had become known as holy ground to the people of the Empire sanctified by the blood of hundreds of thousands of soldiers. As soon as the war ended, visitors began to arrive. Some wanted to find out where loved ones had fought and died while others wanted to see something of the reality of the battlefields for themselves. This immediately created an important distinction between the visitor motivated by genuine feelings of respectful remembrance – rapidly renamed ‘pilgrims’ – and the ‘tourist’ others. At the same time, the local people began to recreate the pre-war lives and communities and also began to service the needs of visitors. In turn, this stirred up the potential for dispute as to who truly owned Ypres and how far reconstruction should be allowed to obliterate the landscape of the war. This talk will explore these issues and the way Ypres was perceived as something akin to a British possession during the 1920s and 1930s.

Sittingbourne is twinned with Ypres….come along and find out more about our Twin City.

Mark works a Professor at the University of Kent. He was drawn into History  when, as a child, he became fascinated by history books. This passion has been taken into adulthood and he now combines his interest in films, television and visual images with his interest in military history.  This is reflected in many of his publications. 

Contact admin@hrgs.co.uk if you have questions including how to buy and collect tickets locally.  Available at the Heritage Hub in The Forum, Sittingbourne,

or online via Eventbrite.

The Historical Research Group of Sittingbourne and the Sittingbourne War Memorials Project team present this talk as part of the Swale Borough Council, WW1 centenary commemorations. Proceeds go towards local WW1 2018-2019 centenary peace events.



October 30
7:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Event Category:


The Avenue Theatre
Central Avenue
Sittingbourne, Kent ME10 4DN United Kingdom
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