Walking and cycle trail to honour Norfolk’s wartime heroine Edith Cavell

Edith Cavell

Edith Cavell - Credit: Archant

Norfolk nurse and national heroine Edith Cavell paid the ultimate price for helping hundreds of Allied soldiers escape from Occupied Belgium during the First World War.

The Very Rev Jane Hedges with a new booklet on the new Edith Cavell pilgrimage trail.

The Very Rev Jane Hedges with a new booklet on the new Edith Cavell pilgrimage trail. - Credit: Nick Butcher

Now, in the centenary year of her death, people are being encouraged to honour her immense bravery and follow a special walking and cycle trail which links her home village of Swardeston to her final resting place at Norwich Cathedral.

The Edith Cavell Pilgrimage has been created by Norwich Cathedral and Edith Cavell expert Nick Miller, and it is one of many ways our county is paying tribute to her in 2015.

The Very Rev Dr Jane Hedges, Dean of Norwich, said: 'The pilgrimage from Swardeston Parish Church, which played such an important part in Edith's early life, to the cathedral, where she was laid to rest at the end of the First World War takes you on a route through fields and villages, along riverbanks and through woodland and then into the hustle and bustle of the city.

'Whether you are walking or cycling alone, or with a group of people, this gives you the opportunity to reflect on Edith's Christian faith, her amazing service to her local community and later to her country, and the eventual sacrifice of her life.

Service at Edith Cavell's grave beside Norwich Cathedral to mark the 99th anniversary of her executi

Service at Edith Cavell's grave beside Norwich Cathedral to mark the 99th anniversary of her execution during the First World War. Photo: Bill Smith

'We hope that this pilgrimage route will be a great inspiration to the people of Norfolk and beyond as we approach the 100th anniversary of her death.'

Nurse Cavell – who was the founding director of the first professional nurse's training school in Belgium – cared for soldiers from both sides during the First World War and she helped some 200 Allied servicemen to escape Occupied Belgium.

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For this, she was executed by the Germans on October 12, 1915.

Her body was returned to England in May 1919 and following a state funeral in Westminster Abbey she was brought home to Norfolk and buried at Norwich Cathedral.

Cavell House, Swardeston Common. Birth place of Nurse Edith Cavell.

Cavell House, Swardeston Common. Birth place of Nurse Edith Cavell.

The Edith Cavell Pilgrimage trail map has been designed by local artist Fiona Gowen and is available at various venues across the city and at www.cathedral.org.uk

People can choose to do either a one-way walking route of seven miles between Norwich Cathedral and Swardeston or an extended 14 mile circular cycling route. Both routes are signposted along the way with the Edith Cavell Pilgrimage trail logo.

For more events planned to mark the centenary of Edith Cavell's death visit www.edithcavell.org.uk

Postcard of Edith Cavell's funeral.

Postcard of Edith Cavell's funeral.


1. Cavell House, Swardeston – Edith, the first child of the Reverend Frederick and Louisa Cavell, was born here on December 4, 1865.

2. The Old Vicarage, Swardeston – the Cavell family lived here from 1866 until 1909 when Edith's father retired.

3. St Mary's Church, Swardeston – Edith was baptised here and worshipped at the church for more than 40 years. Her parents are buried in the churchyard.

4. Keswick Hall – Edith was governess here for the three children of the Gurney family in 1888. She continued as a governess until 1895 and spent five years with a family in Brussels before enrolling for nursing training in London at the age of 30.

5. Former Norfolk and Norwich Hospital – Edith was never a nurse here but the surviving building could be seen as a reminder of the role she played in establishing modern nursing practice in Belgium.

6. 24 College Road, Norwich – Edith's parents moved here in 1909. Edith's father died a year later, but her mother lived here until 1917. It was here Edith made her decision to return to her work as a nurse in Brussels at the outbreak of war in August 1914.

7. Holy Trinity Church, Essex Street, Norwich – Edith worshipped here with her mother and the church contains a memorial to Edith.

8. Alongside the A47 Southern Bypass – walkers are safely separated from the traffic here, but the pilgrimage organisers suggests that the noise of the traffic serves as a good place to ponder the chaos of warfare.

9. Thorpe Station – this railway station was the gateway for Edith's many journeys to and from Brussels. The final time she returned was following her state funeral at Westminster Abbey in London on May 15, 1919.

10. Edith Cavell's Grave, Norwich Cathedral – Edith's final resting place is at the east end of the cathedral as her family preferred for her grave to be near to her home rather than at Westminster Abbey.

11. Memorial, Erpingham Gate – this statue by Henry Pegram was unveiled by Queen Alexandra in 1918. The depiction of the soldier offering a wreath represents the men she protected at the cost of her own life.

12. Koblenz Avenue – Edith is celebrated here alongside Horatio Nelson and Stephen Fry in a piece of artwork that was created after schoolchildren were asked to suggest some Norfolk figures that should be featured.