A lovely day in Bruges

On Saturday 20. November, we spent a lovely day in Bruges. Thanks to the sunny weather the city was able to exude all its beauty.

We were 40 and gathered in front of the gate of the Adornes Estate, the seat of the Adornes family. The Adornes were a Genovese family which had settled in Bruges in the 13th century as traders. The family seat as we know it today was built in the 15th century by the family’s most famous offspring, Anselm Adornes, a successful tradesman and diplomat as well as a humanist and a man of the Flemish Renaissance. Anselm entertained excellent personal relations with the Scottish king James III.

Adornes Estate, Bruges

The centrepiece of the beautiful and proud Estate is the Jerusalem Chapel, built after the return of one of the Adornes from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. We were shown around by two excellent guides who introduced us not only to the treasures in the chapel, but also to the historic tradition of ‘godshuizen’ (almshouses). These small houses were inhabited by less well-off widowed women, most of them lace workers, whose main task it was to pray for the souls of their protecting noble families!

Lack of time prevented us from enjoying the homely, elegant atmosphere (cosy sofas, board games, … ) of the Scottish Lounge, a clear reference to Adornes’ dealings with Scotland. By the end of our tour, -and to our surprise-, we were also introduced to a contemporary art exhibition by a very interesting artist, Cindy Wright. The visit ended when the doors to the private apartments of the present owners opened for a private visit.

We had a delicious light lunch at ‘t Gezelleke, a cosy traditional restaurant in the neighbourhood.

In the afternoon, we visited the English Convent closeby, another place with a strong connection to the British Isles. In September 1629, five English nuns disembarked from a barge in Bruges and founded this convent. It has been occupied by them virtually without interruption for nearly four centuries. It is a walled-in complex, with a spacious 19th century landscaped garden and a beautiful domed church. Over the centuries, and until the 70s, the nuns dedicated themselves to the education of young English catholic girls, but over the centuries the Convent has also been occasionally a home-from-home for many English Catholics at key times of stress. Our visit allowed us to have an idea of the strictly regulated daily life of the seven remaining members of the community. At the end of the visit, Sister Mary Augustine, the only remaining English member, was kind enough to share her daily life routine with us and to answer questions.

Glorious weather, beautiful locations, perfect guides, fascinating historical references and the most appreciated preparatory scouting and perfect organization by André turned this day into an exceptionally successful outing.

Dear André, thank you very much, heel veel dank, merci mille fois!

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