Armistice and the World War 1 Centenary | Salisbury Cathedral

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Armistice and the World War 1 Centenary

There are spectacular plans in place to remember the fallen of two World Wars this October and November at Salisbury...

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Armistice and the World War 1 Centenary

Posted By : Marie Thomas Thursday 27th September 2018

There are spectacular plans in place to remember the fallen of two World Wars this October and November at Salisbury Cathedral.

Over Armistice weekend the West Front of the Cathedral will be illuminated by The Royal British Legion Poppies installation, a gigantic and evocative colour projection of 'tumbling poppies'. The projection will be switched on by the Dean of Salisbury at 18.30 on Thursday 8 November and will subsequently be lit up at sunset and run until 22.30 until Sunday 11th November. 

Raising awareness via the installation, The Royal British Legion are inviting the public to take part in a movement to say Thank You to the First World War generation who served, sacrificed and changed our world. The display is sponsored by Doccombe Global Logistics.

On the eve of the Armistice Day centenary (Saturday 10th November), Benjamin Britten's epic War Requiem will be performed by Salisbury Musical Society and the Cathedral choristers. The choirs will be accompanied by the Chelsea Opera Group Orchestra with soloists Alwyn Mellor (soprano), Mark Wilde (tenor), and Julien Van Mellaerts (baritone). David Halls, Salisbury Cathedral’s Director of Music conducts.

The War Requiem was commissioned for the opening of the new Coventry Cathedral in 1962. It is both a personal response to war and the loss of friends in battle, and a larger and more political statement about war by Britten, who was a lifelong pacifist. Just as the two Coventry cathedral buildings sit side by side, a stark reminder of the past and a beacon of hope for the future, so Britten interspersed words from the traditional Latin Mass for the Dead with poetry by Wilfred Owen, who was killed in France just a week before Armistice Day 1918. On the title page of the original score Britten quoted Owen:

My subject is War, and the pity of War.
The Poetry is in the pity ...
All a poet can do today is warn.

Doors open at 19.00 and the performance starts at 19.30. Tickets are £10 - £35 (free unreserved tickets available on the door to under-19s). Book via the Cathedral website or through Wiltshire Creative/Salisbury Playhouse on 01722 320 333. This concert is sponsored by I. N. Newman Ltd and Fawcetts LLP.

On Armistice Day itself there will be a special Eucharist incorporating the two-minute silence. Across the North Quire Aisle, in the Morning Chapel, an outreach exhibition will bring together two of the most potent symbols of Remembrance – red poppies and puttees (the lower leg wrappings, worn by soldiers in two World Wars).

Binding the Past to the Present Through Remembrance, a Heritage Lottery funded project executed by local artist Suzie Gutteridge with Salisbury Cathedral’s Outreach team, will be on display in the Morning Chapel from Thursday 25 October until Sunday 25 November. Suzie’s project was inspired by puttees given to her by her late father, a former soldier. Working with 15 community groups and volunteers to make the red felt, shape the poppies and build the artwork, Suzie has created a display of 100 poppy-covered puttees that will be exhibited in the Morning Chapel

In another World War 1 commemorative initiative, BBC Wiltshire has partnered with the Cathedral to provide a series of films that will be shown on the Cloister screen. The films include a community performance of Ivor Novello’s Keep the Home Fires Burning (first published in October 1914), Suzie Gutteridge talking about her community art work and a guide to some of the stories behind the World War 1 memorials, including the wooden crosses on the Cathedral’s cloister walls.

A reading of the Royal Regiment of Artillery Roll of Honour from World War 1 by serving soldiers will take place at midday on Friday 2 November in the Morning Chapel.  Believed to be the first time this has ever taken place, the soldiers will read out the names of 49,076 artillerymen who died in battle.

The part played by Royal Army Chaplains' Dept (RAChD) in conflict is explored in a display of banners that will be sited in the South Transept. Artefacts dating from the period and original art work depicting World War 1 conflict will also be on show, and serving chaplains will be present throughout the weekend (Friday 9 November – Sunday 11 November) to discuss the historical contribution of military chaplains and their roles in modern day Service life. 

In the week leading up to Armistice Weekend the theatre company, Antic Disposition, is putting on a production of Shakespeare’s masterpiece, Henry V. Played in World War 1 costume, the performance moves effortlessly between 1415 and 1915, combining Shakespeare’s epic history play with original songs inspired by the poetry of AE Housman. The production is a powerful tribute to the young soldiers caught up in two conflicts five centuries apart.

Performances take place nightly on Monday 5 November, Tuesday 6 November and Wednesday 7 November at 19.30 in Salisbury Cathedral. Tickets are £30 unreserved, £40 reserved, and under-25s get £10 off. Booking details are on the Cathedral website:

Throughout the Cathedral there are permanent memorials to the dead of World War 1, including the moving display of simple wooden crosses in the Cloisters, that marked the graves of young men from the Close who were killed. Two free drop-in tours, based on research done in the Library and Archive, uncover the stories behind those memorials and will take place at 11.00 on Thursday 8 November and 14.00 Sunday 11 November. Meet your guide in the Cloisters near the main visitor entrance. Tour duration approximately 1 hour.


For any other enquiries or further information contact Marie Thomas at Salisbury Cathedral 01722 555148