Please find driving directions and map below the main text
This time we are visiting Bruges (Brugge in Flemish) “off the beaten track”, focusing on the city’s historic links with England, which were vital in medieval times to the wool and linen industries on both sides of the Channel.
In the morning the Archers Guild of Saint Sebastian will welcome us. The visit to their historic townhouse includes the Royal Chamber, the Chapel and the garden. The Guild’s archives covering six centuries will also be on display. The Guild has existed for more than 600 years, which is unprecedented anywhere in the world. The members of this longbow guild are exclusively male, with two notable exceptions: Queen Mathilde of Belgium and the Queen of England.
The link with the English Royal Family dates from 1651, when the military government of Oliver Cromwell forced King Charles II into exile, first to France and later to Bruges in the Spanish Netherlands. There Charles and his brothers became members of the prestigious local archers’ guilds. During his stay Charles raised the Royal Regiment of Guards, which accompanied him to London on the restoration of his monarchy. Nowadays the regiment is known as ‘The First or Grenadier Regiment of Foot Guards’.
In the afternoon a city guide will take us around the picturesque neighbourhood of St. Anna, the ‘Quiet Brugge’, to discover hidden treasures such as the Jerusalem Chapel, the St-Anna church, the English Convent, the Lace Centre…
We will close the day’s event at 4 pm, but you might well wish to pop in to Bruges’ oldest inn, the cosy ‘Café Vlissinghe’ (Blekersstraat 2) for a last drink.
Parking: Next to the station. Access via R30 ‘Buiten Begijnvest’ (= city ring). To park your car inside the city ramparts (de vesten) is difficult and limited to 4 hours anyhow. We recommend the parking at the station because it is large, cheap (3,5€/day) and includes a free return bus ticket to the city centre, for the driver and up to 3 passengers.