Sanctuary Wood
Sanctuary Wood
3.5

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3.5
3.5 of 5 bubbles751 reviews
Excellent
277
Very good
198
Average
129
Poor
82
Terrible
65

Patricia G
Worcester, UK1,198 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2020
Poignant and atmospheric, Sanctuary Wood will stay in my memory forever. Original trenches, original shell craters, old shells, bones, rolls of rusty old barbed wire - even some of the original blasted tree stumps that were standing in 1915, now bearing moving tributes from visitors over the years. You really feel the spirit of those who fought and died here, many of them buried in nrarby cemeteries. Inside the museum is an extraordinary archive of photographic material and other items.
At the end of your visit you can pause to reflect over a coffee in the museum tearoom. Not to be missed
Written February 23, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

LanceSmallshaw
La Hulpe, Belgium182 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2022 • Solo
Had another opportunity to visit here. The museum is really good and Yiu must view the postcards in the viewing boxes to get a real look at what happened here. Walking through the trenches you come across the stunted now monuments of trees that were fought over. A C must see when in Ypres.
Written April 18, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Lily Grace
World1 contribution
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2023 • Family
Please do not spend your money here!
To start off, when you walk into the building, you walk right into a bar, which isn’t very professional. After you’ve paid, you walk into the “museum”. That’s where you find the only interesting thing: around a dozen photo boxes with pictures from the First World War. I did think that those were interesting, since they put the war into perspective without sugar coating anything.
But the entire “museum” is more like a personal collection of items that have been found. There was also no information provided! It was just a big collection of items, some not even from the First World War. I spotted a plastic flask and an AK-47 bayonet, which come from after the First World War. And those are only two examples.
Everything just felt really unprofessional. The museum’s purpose seemed more commercial than to share the history of the war.
In conclusion, I do not think that the museum is worthy of your money. Any information you would like about the First World War can be much better provided in other places.
Written March 4, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Sailorsgirl
Springfield, MO5,948 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
While visiting the Flanders Field Museum located in the Cloth Hall in Ypres (Ieper) Belgium, we were told about the WWI Sanctuary Wood Trenches and Hill 62 about a 30 minute drive from the city. There we found an incredible museum full of WWI artifacts and miles of trenches from WWI that have been excavated by the owner of the property. We walked through the trenches to get a feel for what it must have been like for the soldiers. The area is full of shell craters. The trees have since grown back, but one has to imagine what it was like during that time in that barren landscape where nothing living was left to stand. There is one "sole survivor" left, the trunk of an original tree now covered with small wooden memorial crosses. Just down the road you will find the WWI Sanctuary Wood British Cemetery, which I believe is the second largest after Tyne Cot British Cemetery, also well worth a visit and located outside Ypres. If you don't have a car to get around to these places, tours are available as there was a group of British tourists visiting on a bus tour. This area is well worth spending time in. Sometimes we forget that before WWII, there was The Great War.
Written November 8, 2009
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

kentgoldings
Reading, UK23 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2012 • Solo
On entering the building the smell of stagnant water or worse, was dominant. Walking through the main exhibition room to the trenches I noticed a lot of cluttered exhibits lacking information. Out to the trenches and what a shambles I found. The whole area has become overgrown by saplings and trees obviously grown wild and unmanaged over decades. The ground is just bare earth (or mud) and the trenches are ankle deep in stagnant mud and drain water. They are just like roadwork ditches, shored up by a variety of rotten corrugated sheets (not WW1 sheets) and angle iron. The trenches are unwalkable but you can walk around the top and peer in. They are in very poor condition indeed. The rest of the site is also a shambles with various bits of genuine equipment and artefacts, WW1 and 2 randomly mixed and with no information whatsoever. It was akin to walking around a small, poor quality scrapyard.
The two aero engines decaying on the wet ground were a shame. What would it take to pressure wash them, identify them and lift them onto a pallet with an information sheet next to each? Just too much effort I guess.
Walking to the 'museum' I found a foul smelling bungalow, adorned by bric-a-brac collected from jumble sales, various cheap prints, plastic dummies dressed in uniform etc. There were a couple of good, early motorcycles and other bits behind glass but again no information. Outside again and walking back to the main exhibition room and entrance/exit I couldn't help but notice the heap of garbage, old fridges, freezers and microwaves (no I'm not kidding) loosely jumbled next to more unidentified artefacts. Into the exhibit room and that smell again. Lots of unlabelled things and old photoprints etc. The old 3D photoviewers are very good though. I don't know who the man with the faded 'security' jacket was or why security might be needed in such a place. Perhaps he has to protect the owner from dissatisfied visitors wanting a refund? Anyway he did stop people from taking photographs of the site. If published they could be very damaging for business.
One feels compelled to visit the site but I would urge against wasting your money, being disappointed and further swelling the coffers of the owner who frankly needs a kick up the backside.
How would I improve it? Hire a JCB for a day and dig drainage ditches above the site to divert drain water from the hallowed trenches. I'd use a bilge pump to dry them, place new duckboards in them, clear the entrances, make the sharp and jagged steel sheets safe for walkers and place loads of detailed information in them such as the units and dates deployed there, information on the battles, ordnance used and some poignant information about a few chosen men who fell there. I'd improve access by laying mesh along the upper ground surfaces, cut back the trees and uproot the next generation of saplings, clear the scrap fridges, sort everything and label it. I haven't started on the buildings and contents yet. Let's clear the whole lot out and discover and deal with the source of the odour and rebuild and catalogue from there.
Would I go again? Certainly not. Unless I could take it over and manage it as it should be managed, as befits a site of such historic tragedy and international importance.
Written May 6, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

JeffandLin
Sheffield, UK78 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2014 • Solo
As part of my book research I visited Sanctuary Wood Cemetary and, wanting to turn my car around, I bumped into this 'museum' a hundred yards up the road. The outside sitting area was full of Brits 'doing the Salient'. I got into conversation with some of them, and asked if they thought it was worth the money (now €8, not 10). They all reckoned it was really worth it, so I pitched up my €8 and went in.
Firstly the cafe.
Plastic tablecloths, stacks of ham rolls wrapped in clingfilm on the counter, plus that all pervading smell of cats and old building that other reviewers have mentioned elsewhere.
Not for me I'm afraid, I'm no Howard Hughes when it comes to hygiene, but Nothing could have made me eat there...and despite the many signs forbidding visitors to smoke, there whole room reeks of the cigarettes being smoked incessantly by the ladies who now run the place.
Next...The Museum.
Okay, it's still the same museum that was probably set up in the 20's to catch tourists (apparently there were very many round about), and after paying you move through to a viewing room full of the old '20's stereoscopes with battlefield views (all of French troops BTW from an entirely different part of the Front), for those who have not seen anything like it, there are some quite gruesome views, but they are so old now they are difficult to make out.
From there you have access to another room which is a static display of battlefield detritus and different uniforms, it's about 20x10 feet wide, with exhibits around the outside walls.
Once you have seen that (about 2 minutes max to get round), you can visit the trenches outside, and as a military researcher and ex soldier, this is where things seemed a little strange to me...
The museum advertises itself as giving access to the original front line trenches of Sanctuary Wood, which is odd, because if you have access to a trench map showing the line here, they are actually facing the wrong way.
And the actual bulk of Sanctuary Wood itself is across the road from the cafe, which is now built over with various large bungalows set back in the trees.
Hazarding a guess, these shoulder height corrugated iron walled trenches are probably the communication trenches that took soldiers into the Front Line some 200 yards further east. There appears to be no maintenance taking place.
All in all, my visit to this place cast a bit of a dampener on the day. It's very tired, it's very expensive for what it is, it isn't that hygienic, and worst of all, it is no memorial to the thousands of young men who fought and died here in Sanctuary Wood.
Visit the Cemetary by all means, but rather than visit here, turn around and visit the museum in Zonnebeke, or second best Hooge Crater, both offer a lot more visually, they are a lot cleaner, and a whole lot more reverential to the soldiers who fought in the Salient.
My Grandfather fought in the Salient for three years, leaving Ypres nightly for the front or support lines. He had fond memories of the friends he left there.
I know what he would have said had he lived to see this.
Sorry for such a long review, I hope it helps.
Written October 3, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

oscarthedoggy
London, UK86 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2012 • Family
On arriving, we were met my a man sat in a large armchair by the cashier who repeated private museum, must pay, at least 10 times every minute. This was the entrance of the museum with a cafe next to it, full of stuffed cats, and other dusty random sundries. The first part of the museum smelt of cat wee and cigarette smoke, and was full of photos viewed using a photo viewer, all of which were filthy. Some of the photos were very moving but some totally unsuitable for children, showing body parts of both soldiers and animals.
The trenches themselves were outside and wonderful to see. Sadly they were left to rack and ruin with no attempts to conserve them for future generations. Kids were jumping all over them and corrugated ?iron that made up the sides was left to rust away. Underground bunkers smelt of wee also. After this we followed the line of people to another "museum" - rooms full of random WW1, WW2 paraphenalia. No information signs to explain what was what. We even noticed one "British" uniform had German buttons sown on it. No information about what it must have been like for those poor men who lived in, and died in, those trenches. No sense of humility, nothing. Just a random collection of decaying items. Outside were heaps of bones (I assume horses or other) corrigated iron, various missiles, even an underwater bomb. Quite what this had to do with anything remains to be seen. The bathroom was filthy, absolutely disgusting. There was another in the cafe which may have been cleaner but we didn't use. There was a charge to use the bathroom.
On leaving another large group were paying their 10 euros each to enter. Appalling. This site is not being conserved and the owners are sitting back, letting it rust whilst cashing in. I, and our whole party felt disgusted with the owners using this site for commercial gain with no apparent respect for it al all. Please do not encourage this. I really hope this site gets taken over by a charity who will give it the respect and reverence it deserves.
Written May 12, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

ASL795
Leeds, UK4 contributions
2.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2014 • Friends
I first visited this museum in 1978 whilst residing in Belgium. I have returned several times in the intervening years. On one visit in the late 1980’s the owner was extending and redesigning the trench system to his own design, curtesy of an industrial earth excavator (Do not accept the current system as being genuine). My last visit was earlier this year and the trench system bears no resemblance to that in 1978. The museum exhibits within the museum building have not improved or have been significantly enhanced since 1978. Entrance to the museum in 1978 was priced at 50 Belgium Francs (Approximately 80 pence). The entrance fee has obviously been significantly inflated over the years and, in my opinion is now not worth the exhibits provided. The museums at Ypres and Zonnebeke are by far better value. This once prestigious site is now nothing more than a proverbial cash cow for the owner.
Written July 26, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Natalie C
Yateley, England, United Kingdom8 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2013
The trenches were fascinating and well preserved. The museum was run down and thrown together with no information regarding the artefacts there. The whole place could have done with a clean especially the toilets! The whole thing lacked respect to those who died there and just seemed a money making pit for the unhelpful and arrogant owners. The Belgium equivalent to the national trust or the War Graves Commision should buy them out and give this place the respect and restoration it so desperately needs.
Written April 19, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Caroline M
Scotland128 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2012 • Family
I can only reinforce what other reviewers have said. All the other WW1 sites we visited in Flanders gave the fallen the dignity they deserve. This was the exception. It had "rip-off" written all over it. A coachload of school pupils from England was leaving just as we got there, and another Belgian school group was passing through while we were in the building. I just hope that teachers planning a trip to Flanders will look at TripAdvisor and remove this awful place from their itinerary, as I cannot imagine what it might add to a young person's understanding of the war. The toilet in the private house which doubles as an add-on museum was disgusting. Save your money and go to Hooge Crater and/or the Memorial Museum in Passchendale.
Written May 15, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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