Site of Belgian refugees’ home, Llandrindod Wells

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Site of Belgian refugees’ home, Llandrindod Wells

Refugees from Belgium in the First World War were accommodated at Templefield House. The building was demolished before the Hotel Metropole’s enlargement in the 1920s. Templefield House was where the hotel’s northernmost section now stands (to the left, if you’re looking at the hotel’s Temple Street frontage).

In 1914, c.250,000 Belgians came to the UK seeking refuge after German forces invaded the eastern part of Belgium. Llandrindod Wells volunteered to host some of them. Local Quaker Charles Binyon organised a Belgian Relief Committee. By January 1915 there were 20 refugees in the town, living in groups in several buildings.

Local people sent food and other donations to the “Belgian Refugees Home” in Temple Street. The Belgians raised money towards their upkeep through activities such as giving French lessons and making baskets and wood carvings. One refugee left in January 1915 after getting a job with a Liverpool-based shipping firm. Another joined the British Army. All but one of the remaining refugees left the town in November 1916.

In January 1916 the refugees living at Templefield organised a New Year concert at the house, in which Belgians and locals performed. Refugee Marcel Joostens sang a duet with the rector’s wife, Ida Singers-Davies. His son, also called Marcel, was praised in February 1916 for his bravery during a concert at the Council School after a faulty footlight set fire to the fairy dress of fellow pupil Peggy Watmough. She ran in panic towards a group of children who fled, apart from Marcel. He tore the dress from her, suffering burns to his arm and hand. Peggy was unhurt and later presented him with an inscribed book from her grateful mother, who ran the Beaufort Hotel. Peggy’s brother John had died of meningitis in 1915, aged 18.

Before the war, Templefield House was home to a Mrs Coleman, who later lived in Wellington Road. Her son Louis served with the Canadian Infantry and died in Belgium in April 1915.

Postcode: LD1 5DY    View Location Map

To continue the Llandrindod Wells in WW1 tour, stay where you are. The QR codes for the Metropole are by the hotel’s entrance
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