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First World War events - the Cathedral remembers

Posted By : Marie Thomas Tuesday 27th September 2016

Throughout October and November we will be remembering those who died in World War 1 with a series of lectures, an exhibition and acts of Remembrance.



At noon on Friday, 1 July the names of men from across Dorset and Wiltshire who died on the first day of combat on the Somme were read out in the Cathedral to mark the centenary of the battle. Since then, just after noon every Friday (until 18 November) the names of those from across Dorset and Wiltshire who fought and died during the whole campaign have been and are still being read out in St Michael’s Chapel.



Over a million died or were wounded in the course of the entire offensive. In all 125,000 young men from across Britain and its Empire gave their lives to claim, at its maximum, just seven miles of ground. A further 300,000 were wounded. The Autumn lecture series is dedicated to exploring different perspectives on that long and bloody campaign.

The Somme: Can it be justified?

On 20 October Nigel Biggar, Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology at the University of Oxford, author of In Defence of War and an expert in the Christian tradition of 'just war' reasoning, will deliver his lecture exploring the cost and justification for the Somme. Prof Biggar argues that, although the carnage was appalling and General Haig’s strategic ambitions were overly bold, the battle itself was not necessarily futile. Book here.

Shellshock versus Cowardice on the Somme
The following month, on Wednesday 9 November, Professor Sir Simon Wessely shares the story of a young soldier shot for cowardice and explores the psychological impact of battle, particularly in WW1. Sir Simon is Chair of Psychological Medicine, King’s College London, Director of the King’s Centre for Military Health Research and President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. His subject, Private Harry Farr, was a British soldier executed on October 16th 1916 for alleged cowardice during the Battle of the Somme. His fate was particularly tragic because he had a history of shellshock. Book here.




In addition to the lectures a unique Remembrance exhibition, 100 Hearts for 100 Years, opens in the Morning Chapel from 9-24 November, with a small preview exhibition in the St Michael's Chapel from 4 November.



Organised by the military charity, SSAFA Wiltshire, this exhibition in the Morning Chapel features four original WW1 ‘sweetheart’ pincushions made by wounded soldiers as they recuperated from their injuries alongside 100 recreated hearts made by present day soldiers, veterans, military wives and schoolchildren, as well as groups from the Royal School of Needlework (RSN), Fine Cell Work, the Embroiderers Guild and NADFAS. One of the hearts made by the Royal School of Needlework was from a design created by 5-year-old Bobby from Malmesbury.



In support of the SSAFA project and exhibition, Great British Sewing Bee finalist, Lt Col Neil Stace is holding workshops in Salisbury Cathedral and delivering a lecture, Sewing on the Frontline, which takes place on Armstice Day, Friday 11 November at 19.00.

Lt Col Stace explores the role of sewing as an aid to the recovery of sick or injured soldiers, in particular during WW1. The wounded were given regimental felt stuffed with sawdust to create pin cushions to send to loved ones. He’ll also explore modern day sewing soldiers, drawing upon his own frontline experience, and discuss how sewing can reduce tension in the high stress combat situations.


Sarah Rickett, Director of Outreach and Learning said:

“We are delighted to host both the lectures and the 100 Hearts for 100 Years exhibition. World War 1 shaped the lives of a generation and its repercussions touched countless individuals in generations that followed on. In a world seemingly full of turmoil and conflict at the moment, remembering the slaughter on the Somme highlights the consequences of war, whether fought then or now. It is an important message for the Cathedral to share.”


On Friday 18 November, SSAFA Wiltshire will also be bringing a replica WW1 Bristol Scout plane into the Close and a mockup of a WW1 trench, to mark the last day of the Battle of the Somme one hundred years ago. Inside the Cathedral visitors can learn about the WW1 memorials in the Cathedral, the WW1 commemorative books and the wooden gravemarkers that line the wall of the West Cloister.


Lieutenant Colonel Bill Common, Wiltshire Branch Secretary SSAFA said:

“It is important to mark events like this because they raise awareness of the sacrifice made by many, many individuals on behalf of their country and for freedom. The plane, the trench and the colourful and meaningful sweetheart pincushions help symbolise the continued significance of the Armed Forces in our community, and the continuing role of SSAFA in supporting the Forces family."


DATES, TIMES and BOOKING for all events:

  • The 100 Hearts for 100 Years exhibition can be seen in St Michael’s Chapel from Friday, 4 Nov until Tuesday 8 Nov when it will be moved into the Morning Chapel, where it will remain until Thursday 24 November
  • Lt Col Neil Stace’s WW1 Sweetheart Pincushion Workshop will be held in the North Transept on:
    Sunday 6 November from 13.30 - 15.30
    Sunday 13 November from 13.30 -15.30.
    Tickets can be booked online, no charge but a suggested donation to SSAFA of £5 per adult and £2 per child.
  • Lt Col Stace’s lecture, Sewing on the Frontline, will take place at 19.00 and is free – but there will be a retiring collection in aid of SSAFA.  Book online via the Cathedral website 
  • Both Autumn lectures take place in the Cathedral at 19.00pm. Tickets £7, seats unreserved. Book online in advance or purchase on the door.                                                                        


For any other enquiries contact Marie Thomas 01722 555148