Saturday, 28 September 2013

Have we answered the puzzle of the Messines Church Model?


Records reveal that the German artillery spotters were using the bell tower as viewing platform to guide their guns onto the British lines to the east and south of Messines in the early months of the war. The enemy being able to direct his fire with precision was a huge problem for the British Forces and in October or November 14, a well placed artillery shell sliced the bell tower from the stone tower, depriving the enemy of the high viewing platform

Further investigation of archive sources may have revealed the answer to the style of church, we have located a photographic post card of the church dated 1914, which shows the tower without the embellished bell tower on top, giving the appearance of a square Norman style tower.

This image matches more closely with the photos of the model, though legend has it that the model included a pocket watch in the tower as the church clock. A feature that is absent from the actual church, though today the Peace Bells chime with a different melody every quarter of an hour and a full peel on the hour. Well worth pausing to listen.

We  are also pleased to report that we have also been contacted by the family who had the model church in their garden for many years.  They have also been able to provide us with some photographs which confirm the story of the pocket watch embedded in the structure. Unfortunately the model of the church no longer survives but at least we can now tell it's story in full.

1 comment:

  1. Or the model of the church was simply based on a local church? Makes more sense as the NZRB in 1918 would probably not have access to a photo from 1914........