Museum Plantin-Moretus : a UNESCO World Heritage Museum in Antwerp

In the early afternoon after our walking tour in outer Antwerp our coach dropped us off at the car park by the River Scheldt from where we made our way to the Grote Markt and the Cathedral.

Grote Markt

The Grote Markt, Antwerp


Onze-Lieve-Vrouwe Kathedraal, Antwerp

From here we dispersed to find lunch. The plan then was to reassemble at the Cathedral in about an hour in order to tour the Rubens paintings which hang there, currently. However, with no persuasion from me, my friend and I decided we would rather visit the Plantin-Moretus Museum and arranged to meet the group back at the coach at 5pm.

Chocolate Box

Wrapping my purchases at The Chocolate Box

So, after a tasty pub lunch and making some chocolate purchases, we soon found the museum and were very happy with our choice. This is the only museum listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Plantin Moretus

The Plantin-Moretus Museum, Antwerp

Inner courtyard

The Elegant Interior Garden

This is one of the most interesting museums in Antwerp. It is housed in the mansion of Christophe Plantin, who set up as a printer in 1555, one of the first industrial printers in history. In the workshop, the equipment, which includes one of the oldest surviving printing presses, has been left as it was when operations ceased in the early 19th century. There is much else to see here besides, including the family home, a sumptuous patrician home with an elegant interior garden, tapestries, vellum Bible, woodcuts, copper plates, and works by Rubens. The museum’s archives, more than 100 years old, have been placed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.” [Source : My LV City Guide to Amsterdam, Antwerp, Brussels, Zurich, 2012]


The Original Bookshop : books sold here from 1700

The Proofreader

The Proofreader

Christoph Plantin

Christoph Plantin

In The Great Library

In the Great Library

Great Library

In the Great Library/Chapel

The Moretuses’ own private book collection (1640) is an example of a humanist library. The volumes are shelved by size. By 1655 the Library was used as a Chapel.


Art Deco and Art Nouveau in Lille and Antwerp : Day Three

Day 3 : A full day’s excursion today to the historic Belgian City of Antwerp (about 1.5 hours from Lille) famed as the birthplace of Rubens with a strong artistic heritage in its fine museums and churches. This heritage was reflected too in the city’s enthusiastic embracing of the Art Nouveau movement with an entire district, known as the Golden Triangle of some 170 Art Nouveau houses as well as the famed “Five Continents” house and the Reunion exhibition in the Cathedral of Our Lady. Evening free.”

There are so many Art Nouveau houses in Antwerp’s Golden Triangle that it is impossible I’m afraid to give the addresses of each but here are some examples from those 3 streets – Waterloostraat, Transvaalstraat and Cogels Osylei. Quite amazing! According to Mike at one time threatened with demolition this now an area of prime real estate.

AN on Waterloost

Waterloostraat, Antwerp crammed with Art Nouveau houses

With more than 100 Art Nouveau buildings, Antwerp is the second town of Belgium (after Brussels) and one of the two most important ports in Europe.

Zurenborg – Cogels Osylei quarter

This is the Art Nouveau “golden triangle”, a quarter defined by three streets (Cogels Osylei, Waterloo straat and Transvaal straat) that was built mainly between 1890 and 1906. The urban planning of Zurenborg and the Cogels Osylei dates from 1894 (and half of the area was built in 1895, which became an important place for Art Nouveau which began around 1897 in Antwerp). An incredible number of Art Nouveau buildings are still preserved for your pleasure. It is often presented as the most important Art Nouveau quarter in Europe and in the world.” [Source]

So, here are some of those buildings preserved “for your pleasure”.


Den Tijd, Waterloostraat

Close up Den Tijd

Close-up of Den Tijd


On Waterloo Straat

Waterloo St

Also on Waterloostraat

4 seasons 1

One of the Four Seasons Houses at a cross roads, Waterloostraat

[“De Vier Seizoenen” villas built by Joseph Bascourt in 1899 : the 4 symetrical villas corner a cross roads. Each corner is decorated by a fresco dedicated to a season.]

4 seasons spring

Four Seasons – Spring

4 seasons summer

Four Seasons – Summer

4 seasons autumn

Four Seasons – Autumn

4 seasons winter

Four Seasons – Winter


There are the peacock’s eyes!


Plain – but with peacock eye balcony

Art Nouveau triangle

Art Nouveau in the Golden Triangle


Over The Top in the Golden Triangle

Cogels Osylei

Cogels Osylei

Grander House on Cogels Osylei

Grander house on Cogels Osylei

On Cogels Osylei

Also on Cogels Osylei

I probably have another 50 photos but that is enough for now.

Tournai in Belgium : A Unesco cathedral and a small town art gallery of substance

After a dip into the Roubaix swimming pool our coach transported us just over the border and into Belgium. The town of Tournai was our destination. Such a small quiet town but with so much to offer. We were given an hour and a quarter to find a luncheon venue and meet again under the towering belfry at the end of the picturesque town square.

The Belfry Tournai

A life-size black and white cow tempted us into an intimate brasserie Au Boeuf Qui Rit where we chose I salmon salad and  my companion chose cheese croquettes.

World Heritage

Next to the Belfry is the Cathedral of Tournai. Begun in the 12th century the cathedral’s cultural value was recognised by UNESCO and designated a World Heritage Site in the year 2000.

[The Cathedral] has been preserved in its original state , particularly the capitals of the nave, which makes the cathedral one of the few remaining great Romanesque buildings in this region. The World Heritage committee also pointed out the historical continuity of the cathedral as a place of worship from the 5th century onwards as well as the role of the chapter in the political, social, economic, intellectual and cultural life of the city, documented by centuries old archives.” [Poster shown above]

Photos at Tournai Cathedral :

Tournai 1

Tournai 2

Tournai 3

Tournai 4

Repair work on the cathedral continues but we were able to visit the main body of the church and also the Treasury. No photography was allowed inside The Treasury as almost 5 years ago to the day a priceless jewelled cross was stolen by thieves :

22/02/08 — Theft — Tournai, Cathedral — The “tresor” of the Tournai Cathedral was the victim of a major theft on Tuesday 19 February. In broad daylight, three men using baseball bats broke the glass display cases and stole, despite the attempts of several by-standers, thirteen objects including a famous Byzantine cross. This reliquary which holds a piece of the Cross and probably dates back to the VIIIth-IXth centuries was most likely brought to Tournai from Constantinople in 1205 by a Crusader. One can only hope that the object will not be dismounted in order to sell off the precious stones ornating it. ” [Source]

Beaux arts tournai

From the Cathedral it was a very short walk to the Museum of Fine Arts [Musée Beaux Arts Tournai]

Inaugurated on Sunday 17th June 1928, the Museum of Fine Arts is a building created by the genius for spatial conception, the great Belgian  Art Nouveau architect Victor HORTA. He conceived it especially for presenting the very rich collections bequeathed to the city by the Brussels patron of the arts Henri VAN CUTSEM, deceased in 1904.

The combination of the rooms that radiate from the central polygonal entrance hall is so original that the building itself deserves a visit. The collections shown include many ancient paintings, which added to the works bequeathed by Henri VAN CUTSEM, together with purchases, deposits, gifts and legacies, permit to offer the visitors an interesting overvieuw of the pictorial production history from the 15th century up to now.” [source]

I just chose two pictures on a reading theme on show at the Museum.

Courbet The Reader

Gustave Courbet’s “La Lecture”

Fantin-Latour The Reader

Henri de Fantin-Latour “La Lecture”

“Patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards any one.” Edith Cavell (1865-1915)

Photograph of Nurse Edith Cavell displayed in St Mary’s Church, Swardeston

Growing up in Norwich I have always known about Edith Cavell our local Norfolk heroine of the First World War. My school bus passed by the Memorial to her located outside the Erpingham Gate at Norwich Cathedral, her grave lies within the Cathedral precincts and we had a school house called ‘Cavell’.

The Norwich Memorial to Edith Cavell

Born at Swardeston House in 1865  the family of the Reverend Frederick Cavell moved the following year in to the new Swardeston Vicarage which Edith’s father had paid to have built on land next to his parish church of St Mary the Virgin.

St Mary’s Church, Swardeston

Swardeston Vicarage Today

It was here that Edith Cavell spent her early days. You can read much more about her early life, interests, education and travels here.

Edith Cavell in 1910 with her two adopted stray dogs Jack and Don (photo in Swardeston Church)

She had worked in Brussels, become fluent in French and later trained as a nurse working at times in both London and Brussels. She later turned to nurse training and such was her attachment to Belgium that when she heard of the invasion of Belgium by the Germans in 1914 she returned to that country and was already nursing there when Britain declared war on Germany on 3rd August 1914.

To Edith all men were equal and to be treated so at her hospital. She not only treated and nursed German and Belgian soldiers she later became involved in assisting British soldiers who were wounded and cut off from their retreating army beyond the front line.

“Edith also faced a moral dilemma. As a ‘protected’ member of the Red Cross, she should have remained aloof. But like Dietrich Bonhoeffer in the next war, she was prepared to sacrifice her conscience for the sake of her fellow men. To her, the protection, the concealment and the smuggling away of hunted men was as humanitarian an act as the tending of the sick and wounded. Edith was prepared to face what she understood to be the just consequences.” (Edith Cavell website)

Plaque attached to a house in Ghent (Courtesy RB)

In August 1915 Edith was interned and the date for her execution as a collaborator was set as 12 October 1915. The evening before the English chaplain Stirling Gahan was allowed to visit her in her prison cell. There she received Holy Communion and they recited the words of the hymn Abide With Me together. This is what she said to him :

“I am thankful to have had these ten weeks of quiet to get ready. Now I have had them and have been kindly treated here. I expected my sentence and I believe it was just. Standing as I do in view of God and Eternity, I realise that patriotism is not enough, I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone”.

Despite Spanish and American attempts at intervention she was shot at dawn on Tuesday 12 October 1915.

Edith Cavell’s Grave at Life’s Green

After the War, in 1919, Edith Cavell’s body was returned to England and a funeral service was held at Westminster Abbey on 15 May. A special train brought her remains to Norwich station from where she was buried in a spot called Life’s Green in the grounds of Norwich Cathedral. Ironically, her coffin was carried on a gun carriage!

Books and Film 

YouTube film Edith Cavell (1939) starring Anna Neagle

Friends Lynne and Lyn have both written eloquently about a recent biography of Edith Cavell by Diana Souhami. I heard Souhami speak in London about the biography and I’ve read it myself but I refer you to their superior reviews.

Lyn also read and reviewed a novel about Nurse Cavell Fatal Decision by Terri Arthur.

Other Memorials to Edith Cavell

Edith Cavell Window at Swardeston Church

War Memorial at Swardeston, Norfolk

Statue erected in honour of Edith Cavell near Trafalgar Square, London.

Edith Cavell bust in the London Hospital MuseumLynne‘s photo. She says : “Apparently it was in the sitting room of the nurses home I lived in there, not that we ever noticed it.”