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"What did the church at Plancenoit look like in 1815?" Topic

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Westerner Inactive Member15 Apr 2013 1:00 p.m. PST

I suspect that we will never know, but before I embark on a conjectural reconstruction, I thought I'd try at least to rule out the possibility that we do know what it looks like.

The church was originally XVth century. However, the present structure appears to have been heavily rebuilt in the gothic revival style by the architect Coulon in 1857. Not simply the facade and tower, but the windows on all elevations are of this style. I suspect the church was pretty much entirely rebuilt.

I have failed to find a topographical illustration of the church that pre-dates the rebuilding.

I know of two depictions of the fighting on 18 June 1815 that illustrate the church. These are both German and neither are contemporary.

Carl Röchling (1855 to 1920) must have painted the scene long after the church was rebuilt. The tower of his church looks rather german to me. The churches of the lasne region have a rather distinctive style of steeple, a tradition that the rebuilt church follows.

The painting by Ludwig Elsholtz is apparently signed and dated 1843. I have little information on this artist, though he was not local to the scene. What, if any, research either artist undertook is unknown to me. He shows a steeple, albeit of a simpler style.

Each artist portrays the earlier church differently. Both depictions may be entirely conjectural.

I suspect that the best option is to cobble together something based upon the appearance of other churches in the district, such as Ohain, but if there is any information out there specific to Plancenoit church, I'd welcome a chance to learn of it.

dglennjr Inactive Member15 Apr 2013 1:43 p.m. PST

Yes, you can look at other churches and their typical style at the time. It's based on a basic design for an early christian church. I'm guessing that the original church has been lengthened, widened, and the main tower added onto vertically. My guess is that probably the only part of the original church (from the exterior) is the bottom 2/3 of the tower. It most likely began it's life as a simple bell tower with a gable roofed structure behind it.

Here is a picture of a typical, Early Christian/Anglo-Saxon Church:

I found this painting online, which may show the closest thing to what it may have looked like in 1815:


This model pic I found online may be pretty close as well:


If they aren't spot on, it still should give you enough to make it "close enough".

I hope that helps.

David G.

Westerner Inactive Member15 Apr 2013 3:00 p.m. PST

Thanks, Mr G.

The picture you have kindly posted is that I mention by Ludwig Elsholtz (1843) and, in my view, is much the most convincing representation I have seen.

The model in your link has the distinctive steeple seen on these Belgian churches.

I think this is likely to be similar to how Plancenoit church would once have looked:


14Bore15 Apr 2013 3:30 p.m. PST

I was surprised when I saw a photo from a few yards back a few years ago. I think I remember it was on a small rise as opposed to the immediate area.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP15 Apr 2013 3:40 p.m. PST

Of possible interest?








Westerner Inactive Member15 Apr 2013 3:53 p.m. PST

Tango01, yes, this is the rebuilt church. The facade stones are said to have been taken from the original structure.

The pre-1857 structure could have been part stone and part brick (e.g. like Glabais church, pictured above)

I note a number of churches in the area have stone towers (with steeples) but the main body if the church is brick, sometimes built above older stone walls.

Another example is Ohain:


Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP15 Apr 2013 10:23 p.m. PST

Nice church too my friend.


Allan Mountford Inactive Member21 Apr 2013 10:36 a.m. PST

Siborne's model at the National Army Museum would show the church as it was in the 1830's.


Allan Mountford Inactive Member21 Apr 2013 11:00 a.m. PST

In addition, Craan and Siborne show the same building footprint. Both indicate the church located on a shallow mound.


Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP21 Apr 2013 12:27 p.m. PST

Heck, the mound is still there, if you approach from the Prussian side of advance. But it is very subtle indeed and of no military significance (now anyway). Couple of feet (max) elevation to the wall from the North East side

This has been a very interesting exchange. Siborne's work was, of course, well after the battle. Adkin (and you have to admit….he does seem to know his stuff) shows a picture, without attribution, on page 128 of "the book", which looks very like the simpler design of Ohain. Almost makes you wonder if it is actually Ohain…but, no, surely there is evidence somewhere. Primary sources pre 1815 please…..

Westerner Inactive Member21 Apr 2013 2:24 p.m. PST

Siborne's model, that is an excellent point. The Adkin picture I have not seen.

I have looked at the NAM website. There are two shots, one aerial, that, from the layout, must be of the village of Plancenoit.

Allowing for the limitations of the shots and the scale of the original, we can judge the building to be pretty much the simple configuration seen at churches like Ohain. The tower appears to be stone with a simple steeple. The facade also appears to be stone. The walls of the nave cannot be seen. The tower stands in front of the pitched roof of the nave, as at Ohain. The hipped roof at the east end is clearly seen.

The detail is slight, but it confirms pretty much to the Ohain-type church I had assumed for Plancenoit, and looks credible.

Though you would think someone would have sketched the real thing at some point between 1500 and 1857!

Marc the plastics fan23 May 2018 1:19 p.m. PST

Any developments in five years?

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