From 1815 to 2012

Several days from now, I fell across a letter from Edward Stanley to his wife relating his visit to Waterloo Battlefield in 1816°, just one year after the famous battle took place.  This letter was so moving and so well written that it made me want to visit the site once again. I visited often in my childhood and my love for history even made me celebrate one of my teenage birthday parties there. With the good weather that we had last Thursday and a meeting cancelled, I told myself that it was a good time to go back the Waterloo battlefield.
The visitors center (and shop) is brand new, staff is young and nice and a ticket is issued which gives you access to two short-movies on the battle, the opening of the gate to the Lion

(I used to rush up there when I was a kid, now just seeing the 226 steps makes me feel tired and I must admit, I skipped the sacro-saint trek to the top ,leaving that to the day when I’ll come back with my young ones  😉 ) , wax museum and panorama.

Talking of wax museum and “panorama”, there are still there: used wax statues of Napoleon and his aides, The Prince of Orange, The Duke of Wellington and Blutcher and in that same museum you can find several items that were collected after the battle but not much. The building could do with a bit of fresh paint and new furniture but the good old “Waterloo spirit” from school days hasn’t gone off even if I can understand that the 21st century visitor could be disappointed.

I don’t know if I’m going to be clear but the point is that with a battlefield there aren’t really things to visit,and this doesn’t mean that you must not visit of course but you have to put yourself in the mood, or have read or re-read a good book about the battle,or again have a good guide to imagine how troops moved around, where the attacks were etc.
Being a weekday I was nearly on my own but so far so good it was more relaxing than visiting amongst a crowd of camera-mad Japanese 😉
Just a few remarks:
Plus point is the entrance price, 8€
Bad point is that the Battlefield Tour in a coach that takes you around the different places of the battle is only available from April the first although the website mentions it goes all year round.
There are identical explanation posters (one for the general state of Europe in the early XIX century, one for the Ligny battle, one for the, one for the day of the 18th of June on the Battlefield itself, the scales are not the same from one poster to another which isn’t a crime in itself, it’s supposed to give you a kind of “focus on” impression but didn’t work with me. The model farm in the hall of the panorama building, made to explain how troops fought against each other doesn’t have a single word of explanation which is quite sad. Of course, you can always figure out what farm it is or its story on that fateful day but still, it could do with a word or two of explanation which is shouldn’t be too much of a cost I think.
The council of Waterloo should have bought the different farms around (La Haie Sainte, Hougoumont..) just like Wellington’s pub headquarters in the center of Waterloo is now a museum What is surprising is that, now that won’t be much of a surprise when you know that the battlefield is managed by a French company, “Culturespaces”, also owning French places such as Chateau des Baux de Provence or Pont du Gard to name just a few.
I had the feeling that everything was so Napoleon-centered and the fact that there were more souvenirs of Napoleon than of Wellington did not help, especially when you know that it’s the Battle of Waterloo that was determinant in the fall of Napoleon.
It was well worth a visit but there’s much more that could be done out of and for this great historical site !

° Before and After Waterloo.Letters from Edward Stanley (sometime Bishop of Norwich) 18021814-1816,repris dans le Bulletin de la Société D’Histoire Napoléonienne, 1963 pp.26-32

Who Do You Think You Are? Live : Les notes en ligne !

La Society of Genealogists a mis en ligne les présentations et autres notes power point des conférences de leurs intervenants lors du salon « Who Do You Think You Are?Live » . Toujours instructif et intéressant.

Vous les trouverez ci dessous :

Présentations et Notes des Conférences

Archives de l’Etat à Anderlecht (travaux)

Je reprend ici texto ce qu’on peut trouver sur le site des Archives Générales du Royaume :

« Depuis juin 2011, les ascenseurs des Archives de l’État à Anderlecht tombent continuellement en panne en raison d’eaux souterraines montantes. La Régie des Bâtiments ne parvient actuellement pas à résoudre ce problème.
Longtemps, le personnel du dépôt a fait d’immenses efforts pour aller chercher via les escaliers les documents demandés en consultation. Pour des raisons logistiques, cette situation est malheureusement devenue intenable.
À partir du mardi 6 mars 2012, les documents d’archives ne seront temporairement plus mis à disposition des lecteurs pour la consultation.
La salle de lecture reste ouverte au public et la lecture des documents déjà donnés en consultation reste possible. La collection de microfilms et la salle de lecture numérique sont également accessibles.  »

Pour rappel, sont consultables par ce biais les archives notariales,les greffes scabinaux du Brabant,les archives du Conseil du Brabant et bien d’autres trésors encore. Pour patienter, nous avons toujours les microfilms de l’Etat Civil et des Registres Paroissiaux à disposition. Ceci lance un débat très intéressant sur les moyens accordés aux Archives,et notamment ceux pour entretenir les infrastructures, nous y reviendrons c’est certain !

Des nouvelles données en ligne pour le Pays de Galles!

Find My Past vient de mettre en ligne des milliers de données issues des registres paroissiaux, une belle occasion de fêter la Saint David,le patron des gallois !

Plus précisement,il s’agit d’actes de :

  • Baptêmes: 1,418,921 actes allant de 1538 à 1911
  • Mariages: 950,254 actes allant de 1539 à 1926
  • Bans: 340,002 actes allant de 1701 à 1926
  • Sépultures : 1,169,685 actes allant de 1539 à 2007

Et voici le lien pour trouver toutes ces merveilles

ymchwil da! (bonnes recherches!)