Travel diary compiled by John Hewitt in Belgium

Object Title

Travel diary compiled by John Hewitt in Belgium

Travel diary compiled by John Hewitt in Belgium







Scope and Content

Hewitt boarded the steamer at Custom House (Royal Victoria Dock) to Ostende on 26 June 1839, and returned to London on 8 July having visited Bruges, Ghent, Brussels, Mechlin, and Antwerp.

Hewitt's interest in monumental tombs, architecture, and art already evident before he began his employment with the Board of Ordnance in 1840. He takes careful note of the art collections in different cathedrals and churches as well as internal features of interest. Amongst the collections he saw were those in the Cathedral of St. Sauveur (Bruges); Church of St. Nicholas (Ghent), where there were also four candelabra formerly belonging to Charles I of England; the collection of Baron Schamp; Cathedral of Notre Dames (Brussels) where he saw the tombs of John, 2nd duke of Brabant and his wife, Margaret, daughter of Edward I of England; the museum (Brussels) with another collection of art works: Church of Notre Dames (Mechlin, although Hewitt compares it to Lichfield in England as a town of 'extreme dullness'), with its Rubens collection; Cathedral of Our Lady (Antwerp) with its Rubens alter pieces; St. Paul's Church (Antwerp) with its unique sculptures in the churchyard and the collection of paintings inside including some of Ruben's greatest works. Hewitt mentions ordnance just once in the text when he examined the mortars and cannon at Ostende (p. 2). Amongst some of the more curious things he notes are the damaged trees in the Palace of the Prince of Orange in Brussels (p. 15) which was the result of the Belgian Revolution of 1830; and the strange appearance of the mounted men who cleared the Ghent race courses, ' men-in-armour mounted on terrible-looking war chargers, as fierce & mightly as Charlemagne' (p. 19). At the end Hewitt stresses 'This is a journal of facts-not opinions' (p. 28)


1 Manuscript

Access Conditions

Open access


Creator(s) John Hewitt