The Bells of St George’s Chapel, Ypres
In 2014 the OSS undertook a battlefields tour to Flanders and The Somme to commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of WW1. The occasion gave us the opportunity to dedicate a plaque in St George’s Chapel, Ypres to all those Shirburnians who lost their lives in the conflict.
St George’s Chapel was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield who, even more famously, designed the Menin Gate just a short distance away. There is a strong Sherborne connection with Sir Reginald as he was also the architect of the Old Music School which I can see through the November mist from my window as I write. The Chapel was opened on Palm Sunday in 1929 and has retained its quintessentially English atmosphere with the walls surrounded by plaques dedicated largely to the fallen from British schools.
The tower above the church is also typical of its English counterparts with one exception – there are no bells as the original funding became exhausted before they could be cast. Now a group of English bell ringers are planning to install a full peal of eight bells which they hope will be in place by Armistice Day 2017. The funding target is £195,000 and the appeal is already in full swing. If any readers of this article would like to donate they can do so by clicking on the following link.
The Battle of Passchendaele (3rd Battle of Ypres) ended in November 1917 – how appropriate it would be if, exactly 100 years on, the bells of St George’s were to ring out in honour of the glorious dead.