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Mont-Saint-Eloi abbey near Arras

Mont-Saint-Eloi abbey was founded in the VII century by Saint-Eloi and entirely rebuilt in the middle of the XVIII century. It is located eight kilometres north-west of Arras and has witnessed numerous historical events since several battles occurred in its premises.


In 1477, the king Louis XI settled down here with his army during the Arras siege. Two centuries later, in 1654, the Prince of Condé called ‘The Great Condé’ established his headquarters here before being expelled by the troops of Marshal of Turenne.


During the French Revolution (1789-1799), the abbey was abandoned and sold to the State. Subsequently it was demolished except the façade, the towers, and the main door.


The First World War damaged it even further. Today, only the two 44 metres high towers are left (the fifth floor was completely destroyed during the Great War).


The towers dominate the whole valley as they are on a hill that is 120 metres high.


During the First World War, they were used by the Allies as an observation post before the German forces destroyed their tops and a significant part of the abbey with their cannons. Far in the horizon, both Notre-Dame-de-Lorette hill and Vimy Ridge are visible.

Here is Mont-Saint-Eloi abbey before its destruction :


and after its destruction :



2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Mont-Saint-Eloi abbey near Arras”

  1. Alastair Robertson 25 Jan 2014 at 4:25 pm 1

    My father, L/Cpl Sydney Roberts, was a Lewis Gunner in the 2/18 Battalion of the London Regiment (London Irish Rifles) “D” Company. His Battalion moved into the sector of the Line at Neuville St. Vaast (Vimy Ridge) on 1st July 1916. Thirty-five men were lost moving up to the Line that day (1 killed and 34 wounded). Each tour of duty included eighteen days in the Line and six days out at rest. Rest was taken in the woods behind the ruined tower at Mont St. Eloi. Sydney was seriously wounded on 21st October 1916 and repatriated to England arriving at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Netley, Southampton on 28th October of that Year. He was to spend the next two years at Netley before being discharged from the Army on medical grounds.

    Alastair Roberts (posted 25th January 2014)

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