About Hill 62 Sanctuary Wood Museum
The Hill 62 Sanctuary Wood Museum near Ypres in Belgium contains an impressive partially restored British World War One trench system. Located near to the original front lines, the Sanctuary Wood Trenches were left in place by the owner of the land after the war and were preserved in-situ from that time.
A private museum was later opened at the site and the trenches were partially-restored to ensure they survived the increasing number of visitors. Today visitors can explore these trenches and covered passageways as well as a section of the underground tunnel system.
Hill 62 Sanctuary Wood Museum history
Hill 62 gained its name early in World War One because it was literally 62 metres above sea-level, looking out over the town of Ypres. The name Sanctuary Wood dates back to October 1914 when the trees were used as cover – a ‘sanctuary’ – for stragglers waiting to rejoin their units. At this early point of the war, the wood was relatively quiet. However, by November 1014, heavy shelling showed the reputation to be short-lived.
The museum, now owned by Jacques Schier, the grandson of a farmer who had founded the museum and owned the site both before, during and after the war. Jacques kept the land as it was after World War One, and opened a museum including a rare collection of photographs, weapons, uniforms and bombs. Behind the museum lay a preserved section of British trenches.
During World War Two, the museum closed and the artefacts were buried under the concrete cellar – visiting Germans were told the artefacts had been stolen by the British.
Hill 62 Sanctuary Wood Museum today
Today, the Hill 62 Sanctuary Wood Museum is considered to offer the finest preserved trenches on the Western Front. The museum itself is a small, family-run affair and contains a number of artefacts from the site as well as images from the war – note these images are quite graphic in places. Visitors can walk through the trenches dug in over a century ago, and you can clearly see the trees ripped apart by bullets.
The museum also features a small bar, cafe and gift shop for after your visit. Close-by are the Sanctuary Wood Cemetery and Memorial, containing over 2,000 burials.
Getting to the Hill 62 Sanctuary Wood Museum
From Ypres, Hill 62 Sanctuary Wood Museum is a 10 minute car drive via Zuiderring and the N37. Take the road called Canadalaan which leads to the museum. The museum is an hours drive from Dunkirk in France via N8. You can also get the 84 train from Ypres/Ieper Station for 15 minutes to stop Geluveld Zandberg, before walking 20 minutes to the museum.
The ultimate guide to the historic sites of Belgium, from Menin Gate to Waterloo Battlefield and more, includes an interactive map of Belgium's cultural monuments and landmarks.