Legendary wartime "angels" inspire a new generation

ANGELIC ART: Mark Smith of York Castle museum holds two watercolours by Alfred Pearse, themed on the legend of the Angels of Mons.

ANGELIC ART: Mark Smith of York Castle museum holds two watercolours by Alfred Pearse, themed on the legend of the Angels of Mons.

First published in News Darlington and Stockton Times: Photograph of the Author by

THEY were said to have protected British troops in the first major battle of the First World War – and now they are inspiring children through art.

The Angels of Mons is a legend that gained popularity after the Battle of Mons in Belgium in August 1914, almost exactly 100 years ago.

Works from York Art Gallery depicting the legend will be on show at special children’s workshop in the city’s Castle Museum on August 23.

And artist Jo Walton will help children create their own watercolour paying homage to the men involved and the myth for which the battle is now famous.

Assistant curator of art learning Gaby Lees said: “The Angels of Mons is one of the most famous legends of the First World War which has inspired many artists and authors over the last century.

“We have some fantastic examples in our collection so we thought it was fitting to mark the 100th anniversary by running a workshop where children can learn about the Angels and paint their own versions.”

The drop-in session is taking place from 11am to4pm and is included in the admission price to the museum.

*The legend of the Angels of Mons sprang up after a short story by Arthur Machen called The Bowmen was published in the London Evening News in September 1914.

It was written as if it was a genuine news article and described how the ghosts of fallen archers from the Battle of Agincourt in 1415 appeared to protect British soldiers during the Battle of Mons.

In the months following publication, papers and occult magazines began to publish “first-hand” accounts of soldiers who claimed to have seen apparitions on the battlefield. Like all urban myths, the more the story was told the more it was believed.

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