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Before its destruction in the First World War, the Cloth Hall in the Belgian city of Ypres was among the surviving marvels of medieval architecture in northern Europe. Originally built by the wealthy Flemish cloth guilds, the Hall was a splendid example of Gothic civic architecture.
Kerr-Lawson’s painting shows the destruction brought about by repeated shelling by air and artillery fire. Only the central tower of the guild Hall remains recognizable in the rubble; on the right, the Cathedral is in ruins. The central tower and one wing of the Hall were eventually rebuilt, and the debris of the other wing was cleared away, leaving some original pillars standing as a war memorial.