Events Calendar
Nov 29
18:00 - 19:00
'Ypres: turning a Belgian city into a corner of the British Empire, 1919-1939'?
Rutherford Grass Roots Lecture
Professor 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. ​Professor Mark Connelly is Professor of Modern British History at the Centre for War, Propaganda and Society at the School of History, University of Kent and Director of Gateways to the First World War (AHRC-funded centre for public engagement with the First World War centenary).

no booking required


Rutherford Lecture Theatre One
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