Legends from our own lunchtimes

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Saint Lucky’s
Wednesday 22nd May - Bergues to Bourbourg

There’s a joke that’s probably older than Bourbourg which goes something like:“Lost dog—brown fur, some missing due to mange, blind in one eye, deaf, lame leg due to recent traffic accident. Answers to the name of ‘Lucky’”.  That poor dog can’t hold a candle to the history of the church in Bourbourg.

If we thought that history had dealt the Abbey in Bergues a tough time, it hasn’t got a patch on the stories that this church of Saint Jean-Baptiste could tell.   Built some time in the twelfth century, it had survived being sacked and raided and banged about every few hundred years, and the shelling of the First World War gave it a bit of “what for”, yet still it survived.  Then with the advent of the subsequent war, it was hit by a bomb, set alight by a plane which failed to land safely on its roof, and subsequently had its flagstone floor pulled up by occupying forces no doubt to be repurposed in someone’s ensuite. 

It still quite bravely, perhaps proudly shows many of those scars, and at the turn of the current millennium its choir was treated to a makeover by eminent British sculptor Sir Anthony Caro.  In the accompanying literature, much was made of his enthusiasm, his importance even, and even more effort was put into an almost desperate explanation of each piece.   It may be churlish to criticise the work, which was well crafted, well presented and well…”interesting”, but it seemed to us to be an opportunity lost.   Despite the enthusiasm of the guide, the publicity, and the town, it failed to invoke our emotions and we were left wondering whether we should shout out “the king has no clothes on”.

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