Northern France & Belgium WWI Literature English, Drama & Performing Arts School Trips & Tours

Bring the literature of the war to life for your pupils with an English school trip to the battlefields region and gain an unforgettable insight into the effects of the war on iconic writers. 

On an English study tour to the World War I battlefields your group will have the opportunity to gain an understanding of wartime poets that no textbook could ever provide. The contextual knowledge of your English trip to this region will not only bring educational benefits and a deeper understanding of key war poets such as Own, Sassoon, Rosenberg, McCrae and Blunden, but is also an emotionally moving experience. Plus, there could be no better time for an English educational visit than during the centenary years. 

Prices start from£199pp

Price Shown includes

  • 2 nights’ full board accommodation at NST’s Château d’Ebblinghem
  • Executive coach transport from and to school and throughout your stay
  • Selected visits including: Sanctuary Wood Museum, Tyne Cot British Cemetery, Langemark German Cemetery, Essex Farm, Menin Gate, guided briefing en route to Somme, High Wood, Mansel Copse, Devonshire Cemetery, Lochnager Crater, Thiepval Memorial & Visitor Centre, Ulster Tower, Newfoundland Park, Sheffield Memorial Park, Plugstreet, Hill 60, In Flanders Field Exhibition, St George’s Memorial Church, Poperinge, Talbot House & Lijssenthoek Cemetery
  • WWI experience at NST’s Château d’Ebblinghem (including baking army biscuits, trying on replica WWI uniforms and handling WWI artefacts)
  • Services of an NST History Educationalist Guide throughout your stay
  • Services of your own Group Co-ordinator (Groupie)
  • Extensive group travel insurance
  • 1 in 8 free place ratio

Price shown is based on 40 paying passengers departing from a Zone A departure point in November 2018 and is subject to availability.


On-tour support

On-tour support includes...

  • Services of an NST History Educationalist Guide
  • Your dedicated Group Co-ordinator, if staying at NST’s Château d’Ebblinghem, will ensure the smooth-running of your school tour, acting as all-round support for your group
  • Organised evening activities 

 


Accommodation

Popular options in Northern France & Belgium


Top visits in Northern France & Belgium

Sanctuary Wood Museum & Hill 62

Located close to the original front lines, this fascinating visit shows well preserved original British trenches and covered passageways, as well as a section of the underground tunnel system. The museum consists of two rooms housing many artefacts removed from the battlefields plus a large and rare collection of three dimensional photo images inside special viewing boxes.

Tyne Cot British Cemetery

Tyne Cot Cemetery is the resting place of 11,956 soldiers, and the largest British Military Cemetery in the world. The panels in the rear wall hold the names of 34,888 missing soldiers.

Langemark German Cemetery

A sombre, foreboding place; this cemetery contains the bodies of more than 40,000 German troops, over half of which lie in a mass grave. Here, your pupils will learn how Germany chose to remember its war dead and how their thoughts of war were shaped by the slaughter of the German pupil battalions by British regular troops in 1914, known as the Massacre of the Innocents, an important challenge to pre-war ideas of the glories of warfare. The entrance to the exhibition contains a memorial room dedicated specificallyto the dead of the Student Battalions. In the 1930s, the memory of this battle was incorporated into Hitler’s perverse Cult of the Dead. 

Essex Farm Cemetery & Dressing Station

Probably most famous because of the connection between the preserved British bunker and the Canadian poet, John McCrae, this cemetery and the nearby canal bank, formerly the British Front Line, are also well worth visiting.

Menin Gate & Last Post Ceremony

The largest and the most important of the British memorials to the Missing in The Salient, The Menin Gate holds the names of 54,896 soldiers of the British Empire. This memorial marked the start of one of the main roads out of Ypres towards the Front Line. Following a meal at a local restaurant, your pupils will witness the moving ‘Last Post Ceremony’ which takes place every evening at 8pm.

High Wood

High Wood was of tremendous significance during the Battle of the Somme. The wood was first attacked on 14th July, 1916, but the British were unable to take it. The British 4th and the German 2nd and 1st armies continued to battle for control of the wood until the final assault on 15th September 1916.

Mansel Copse

The area is of interest because the war poets Robert Graves and Siegfried Sassoon served here with the First Battalion of the Royal Welch Fusiliers in early 1916. They mention many of the place names around here in their memoirs.

Devonshire Cemetery

This burial site for some of the British Empire and Commonwealth troops killed during the Battle of the Somme. It is located near to the village of Mametz. The cemetery grounds were assigned to the British Empire in perpetuity by the French state in recognition of the sacrifices made by the Allies in the defence of France during World War I. Most of the graves are of men from the 8th and 9th Battalions of the Devonshire Regiment.

Lochnagar Crater

The result of a mine explosion on 1st July 1916, this is the largest surviving crater on the Western Front, and one of the most impressive sites on the Somme Battlefields.

Thiepval Memorial & Visitor Centre

This is the largest memorial to the British missing on the Western Front, containing the names of over 73,000 men who died in the Somme section before 20th March 1918 and have no known graves. The visitor centre houses an informative exhibition designed to aid understanding of the history of Thiepval during WWI.

Ulster Tower

Built as a memorial copy of the tower that the 36th Ulster Division had trained under in County Down, Northern Ireland, the tower marks the site against which the men of Ulster advanced on 1st July 1916. The northernmost 7km of the Somme Battlefield can be seen from here.

Newfoundland Park

Undoubtedly one of the largest and best-preserved trench memorials on the Western Front. Just outside the park lies Hawthorn Crater, and within it are the ‘Danger Tree’ and remains of the British Front Line. The German Front Line can be seen across No Man’s Land. 

Sunken Lane

The Sunken Lane was a lane running in a north-south direction and situated in No Mans Land, halfway between the opposing front lines west of Beaumont Hamel village until the battle moved beyond the village in November 1916. 

Serre Road

Serre was a strongly fortified village held by the Germans at the beginning of the Battle of the Somme. The village marked the most northern point of the main attack on the 1st of July 1916.

Cemetery No.2

Cemetery No. 2 has a total of 7,127 British and Commonwealth burials. Of these only 2,183 are identified. The cemetery was started in May 1917 when soldiers' remains were cleared after the territory around the cemetery came into British hands. Hundreds of soldiers had been killed in the vicinity of this cemetery in the British offensive of 1st July 1916 and it had not been possible to retrieve their bodies for almost a whole year.

Sheffield Memorial Park

Sheffield Memorial Park is preserved as a memorial to the Pals Battalions who fought west of Serre village in the Battle of the Somme 1916. 

Plugstreet

The name of this small village, and of the nearby wood, is actually Ploegsteert, but to those who served here during WWI, it became known as ‘Plugstreet’. There were no major battles here and Ploegsteert remained in British possession during the major part of the war. However, there are cemeteries and other sites of interest on all sides of, as well as within the wood, including a plaque commemorating Winston Churchill. 

Hill 60

Hill 60 was heavily shelled and mined during WWI. The ground forming Hill 60 remains the final resting place for countless soldiers buried somewhere beneath its grassy foundations.

The hill proved to be an invaluable vantage point from which to view the wider battlefield and so was much sought and fought after by the allied and German forces.

St George’s Memorial Church

St. George's Memorial Church was built in commemoration of British and Commonwealth troops who lost their lives during WWI. The church is now a destination for many thousands of pilgrims who visit the battlefields of Flanders since the war ended in 1918.

Poperinge & the Death Cells

This quiet village was of great importance during WWI.  As the war dragged on, desertion, cowardice and crime increasingly became a problem. To combat the problem, commanders began executing deserters and mutinous troops. The British shot 320 men and the French as many as 700. The Germans, by contrast, shot about 50.

In one of two cells near the Poperinge monument, where soldiers were held before their execution at dawn, is now a place to remember not just the heroics of war but also its horrors.

Nearby, the College Stanislas was the HQ of The Friends Ambulance – about 1,000 Quakers served in this unit on the Western Front and here pupils will look at the dilemmas, both moral and practical, faced by conscientious objectors during WWI.

Talbot House

In 1915, this British soldiers’ club, known as ‘Toc H’, opened to all ranks. Today, Talbot House is a fascinating living museum depicting daily life in the club. Groups are also able to visit the recently renovated concert hall where many recreational activities and concerts took place. 

Local Boulangerie Visit

There are a number of boulangeries in the region where your pupils will watch and listen to the baker describe, in French, the process of making traditional French bread and croissants, before getting the chance to produce and eat their own. 

Les Chocolats de Beussent

Learn about the industry of chocolate making and combine the demonstrations of melting, moulding and coating with worksheets, a guided tour of the workshop (in English or French), and the chance to enjoy tasting samples!

Local Goat Farm

Gain an insight into French farming and cheese making. There are also opportunities for cheese tasting and, at certain times of the year, to help milk the goats. 

Louvre-Lens

This art museum, located in the city of Lens, displays objects from the collections of the Musée du Louvre that are lent to the gallery on a medium or long term basis.

Nausicaá Sea Centre

This fascinating sea centre promotes French learning through interactive exhibits. Their range of educational workshops is now available for all age groups in French or English, covering marine-based topics such as climate change, plankton or marine life. Coastal boat trips are also available from Nausicaá too.

Lijssenthoek Cemetery

The story of the cemetery - the largest hospital cemetery in the Ypres Salient area with almost 11,000 victims, representing 30 nationalities - is told in this new visitor centre. The exhibition includes a photo and listening wall where stories from the war can be discovered.

Bellewaerde Theme Park

Spend a day at this fantastic theme park, home to a wonderful mix of rollercoasters, shows, animals and water features.

Boulogne-sur-Mer

This port town provides several cultural experiences located close together. 

  • Take a guided tour of the town and practise your language skills with the local French guide. 
  • Explore the Roman old town, spending time in its shops and cafés and practising language skills. 
  • Pupils can also compare French life past and present. 
  • Local market days are Wednesday and Saturday. Pupils can interact with traders, build language confidence and pick up a bargain or two.

 

Aqualud

Home to over 5,000m² of wave pools and water slides that will keep your pupils active whilst they’re away.

Becasuc Sweet Factory

Take a tour of the sweet factory located in Boulogne-sur-Mer, where pupils will learn from the French commentary, demonstrations and be able to taste the delicious sweets produced. 

Les Escargotières

Get a real taste of France! At a working snail farm, your group will learn how one of France’s most famous foods is reared. Then sit back and see which of your pupils will be first to sample one for themselves. 

In Flanders Field Museum

This superb state-of-the-art, interactive museum is now an even richer experience with the updated larger museum. Covering most aspects of the war in Flanders, each visitor will receive a wristband that will take them on a journey in the museum through the eyes of someone who was there. Educational worksheets and study resources and workshops are available - http://www.inflandersfields.be/en/educational-new

 

Journey’s End performance - 10th October to 12th November 2018

A production of R C Sheriff’s ground-breaking play exposing the tragedy and horror of conflict. ‘Journey’s End’ is set in a dugout over four days leading up to a massive German attack on the British trenches in 1917, it charts the tension, claustrophobia and cold terror experienced by a company of officers as new recruit, Lieutenant Raleigh, discovers Captain Stanhope, his childhood friend and hero, has changed almost beyond recognition. The play is performed at Ypres iconic Ammunitions Dump.


Evening activites

  • ​WWI experiences (including trying on replica wartime uniforms and making traditional ‘army biscuits’ at NST's Château d'Ebblinghem
  • Viewing WWI artefacts (examples of items include whistles, replica medals, drill rounds, regimental cap badges and button sticks) at NST's château
  • Organised evening activities at the château (including a French night, snail tasting, making traditional tarte au sucre, mini Olympics, a disco or karaoke, Superhero Challenge, NST’s Got Talent, boules...and much more!)
  • Excellent recreational facilities at the château (including a games room, a teachers’ bar, a shop, two football pitches, volleyball area and four hectacres of private grounds
  • Most other hotels can provide a room for groups to use in the evening for quizzes or discos

Educational resources

Educational study packs & remembrance journals 

For your WWI literature tour you can download your free remembrance journal for every pupil, plus, our free resources for use before, during and after your tour – helping to save you time and ensure that your pupils get the most from their trip.

 


Transport

Available from any location in the UK, our executive coaches are fitted with seatbelts, toilet facilities, air conditioning, DVD and reclining seats.

Coach


Giving you full support throughout

Before your tour

  • Your own dedicated NST contact
  • Bespoke tour itineraries
  • Unrivalled local knowledge & expertise
  • Curriculum linked visit programmes
  • Great value for money - no hidden costs
  • Free group leader inspection visits
  • Risk assessment guidance
  • Safety assured, transport, accommodation and visits

Whilst you're away

  • Free educational resources
  • Group-friendly accommodation
  • Exceptional standards of coaching
  • On-tour support from our reps on the ground
  • Support & assistance from our specialists guides throughout your tour
  • 24/7 support just a call away
  • Extensive group travel insurance

On your return

  • Priority rebooking services
  • Rewarding your loyalty with our reward scheme
  • You say, we listen - we're committed to continuously improving our tours
  • School travel company of choice since 1967

“Alana, our guide, was outstanding. Her knowledge of everything from where we should stand and when we should arrive for the Menin Gate ceremony, to the location of the toilets and the timings for all points, was invaluable.  She had a wonderful rapport with our pupils. It really felt like she went the extra mile to ensure the success of our tour. We were delighted with all aspects of our trip.”

Claudine Hakim, International School of London