How well do you know Edith Cavell?

Edith Cavell centenary project. Pictured: Edith Cavell. Picture: Imperial War Museums

Edith Cavell centenary project. Pictured: Edith Cavell. Picture: Imperial War Museums - Credit: Imperial War Museums

The story of Edith Cavell has been heard countless times over the years.

Pomp and circumstance: the military pall-bearers prepare to carry Edith Cavell's coffin through the

Pomp and circumstance: the military pall-bearers prepare to carry Edith Cavell's coffin through the Erpingham Gate on its journey to her final resting place on Life's Green at her 1919 funeral. - Credit: Archant

But the nurse, who was hailed with saving soldiers from both sides during the First World War and helping more than 200 allied soldiers escape Belgium, had a fascinating life before her untimely death in 1915. And today, on the 101st anniversary of her death, we look at 14 things you may not have known about her.

1 She was the daughter of a vicar but as a child she thought her father's sermons were boring – but her faith was strong, as some of her last words revealed.

2Her father was something of a Puritan and would want to keep a strict Sabbath on a Sunday, but although she wouldn't be allowed to play, this was family time and laughter would be had.

3 As Frederick Cavell, Miss Cavell's father, had used most of his own money to build the vicarage, the family were quite poor. But still generous, they would often share Sunday lunch with neighbours.

Edith Cavell graveside service at Norwich Cathedral. British Red Cross standard bearer Marie Aldred.

Edith Cavell graveside service at Norwich Cathedral. British Red Cross standard bearer Marie Aldred.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant


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4 When she was a girl, one of her favourite winter pastimes was ice skating, and she could often be seen with her siblings skating on the moat behind the church.

5 Miss Cavell enjoyed art, and villagers would receive paintings and drawings from her on special occasions.

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6 As a young woman, she once ruined her new shoes by dancing until her feet bled.

7 She is thought to have had a romantic fondness for her second cousin, Eddie, but he had a nervous condition which he had inherited and didn't want to pass on, so never got married. But Miss Cavell didn't forget him, as on the day she was executed she wrote in her copy of The Imitation of Christ: 'With love to E.D. Cavell'.

Nurse Edith Cavell memorial service - Norwich pic taken 12th oct 1966 m3977-00a

Nurse Edith Cavell memorial service - Norwich pic taken 12th oct 1966 m3977-00a

8 Despite being described by her nursing teachers as not being very punctual, once she was matron Miss Cavell was know to sit with a watch at breakfast. Any trainee who was more than two minutes late would have to work an extra two hours.

9 The underground network Miss Cavell worked for in Belgium was organised by an aristocratic family –and their password was Yorc, the family's name backwards.

10 Miss Cavell was keen not to incriminate others, so most of her work with soldiers was done at night. She was so thorough that even when the nursing school was searched, no papers could be found, her nurses knew nothing, and she had sewn her diary into a cushion to hide it. The only evidence found against her at the hospital was one tatty postcard, sent from a English solider thanking her.

11 She was not arrested for espionage, as many people believed, but for treason.

Edith Cavell timeline. Pictured: Cavell vicarage, built 1865-6. Picture: Supplied

Edith Cavell timeline. Pictured: Cavell vicarage, built 1865-6. Picture: Supplied - Credit: Supplied

12 Her last words, spoken to the German Lutheran prison chaplain, Paul Le Seur, were: 'Ask Father Gahan to tell my loved ones later on that my soul, as I believe, is safe, and that I am glad to die for my country.'

13 She was humble, and didn't want to be thought of as a martyr. She said: 'Think of me as a nurse who tried to do her duty.'

14 Her body could not be buried inside Norwich cathedral as Victorian public health legislation prevented burial inside cathedrals and other public places. But when her body was finally brought home in 1919 her family turned down an offer for her to be buried at Westminster Abbey, and she was buried outside the cathedral here.

Timeline

? Edith Cavell was born in Swardeston, near Norwich, in 1865 and grew up in the village where her

father was vicar.

? After finishing her education she became a governess, including a spell with a family in Brussels, but came home to Norfolk and nursed her father when he became ill.

? It was then, aged 30, she decided to train to become a nurse and she was accepted at the London Hospital.

? Once qualified she worked in various hospitals across the country but travelled back to Brussels to nurse a poorly child.

? While there she was recruited to head a newly established nursing school.

? Despite being back in Norfolk visiting her mother when the First World War broke out, she travelled back to her hospital, where she treated wounded from both sides.

? In November 1914 she began sheltering allied soldiers and helping them to reach safety in the neutral Netherlands.

? She was arrested in August 1915 and immediately admitted her guilt.

? The British government could do nothing to help her and she was sentenced to death but she remained magnanimous, even admitting the justice of their

sentence.

? She was shot by firing squad on October 12, 1915.

? Her body was returned to the UK after the war and she is buried at Norwich Cathedral.

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