Service to mark 100th anniversary of Edith Cavell’s final journey home

The Edith Cavell memorial in Norwich. Picture: Paul Hurst

The Edith Cavell memorial in Norwich. Picture: Paul Hurst - Credit: Paul Hurst

She was a Norfolk heroine who helped more than 200 soldiers escape from occupied Belgium during the First World War.

Edith Cavell, picture from 1895. Published with permission of St Mary's church Swardeston.

Edith Cavell, picture from 1895. Published with permission of St Mary's church Swardeston.

But Edith Cavell's selfless efforts resulted in her execution by a German firing squad on October 12, 1915.

This month marks the 100th anniversary of her body being returned to the UK and her burial at Norwich Cathedral on May 15, 1919.

A century on and two poignant services are being planned to commemorate the Swardeston-born nurse's final journey home.

On Wednesday, May 15, there will be a midday service at Westminster Abbey in London, followed by a 6.30pm service of commemoration at Norwich Cathedral.


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The dean of Norwich, the Very Rev Jane Hedges, will preach at the Westminster Abbey service which will also celebrate the life of Florence Nightingale.

She said: "May 15 this year gives us the opportunity to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Edith being laid to rest in her beloved Norfolk and we are delighted to be doing this in partnership with Westminster Abbey, remaking the journey by rail that was made with her body 100 years ago."

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Later in the day, the dean of Westminster, the Very Rev Dr John Hall, will preach at the Norwich Cathedral service, part of which will take place beside Nurse Cavell's grave.

All are welcome to attend the service at Norwich Cathedral.

Miss Cavell, who was born in 1865, nursed soldiers from both sides of the conflict in occupied Belgium during the First World War.

She was head matron of Belgium's first nurse training school in Brussels and for nine months she worked with the Belgian and French resistance to shelter more than 200 soldiers from the German occupying forces, helping the soldiers escape to neutral Holland.

But she was betrayed, arrested, and ultimately executed by a German firing squad at the Tir National.

On the night before her death, she famously said: "Standing as I do in view of God and eternity, I realise that patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone."

Her words are echoed on her grave which was restored with a new headstone and ledger as part of commemorative events marking the 100th anniversary of her death.

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