2019 Commemorations

Edith Cavell Flower Festival, Swardeston, October 12th and 13th 2019.

A special Festival is held in the church and its surroundings every other year in Swardeston, the home village of Nurse Edith Cavell (1856-1915).

Our two-day 2019 Festival was held on Saturday October 12th and Sunday 13th

  • The beautiful medieval church was filled with thirty flower arrangements on the theme ‘A Day to Remember’.
  • Unique material from our Cavell archive was on display, along with exhibitions about Edith Cavell’s life.
  • Music associated with her was played in the church.
  • Visitors used a newly created map to walk around the village and see places she will have known.
  • A special Sunday morning service was held remembering Edith Cavell.

Annual graveside service at Norwich Cathedral

Saturday 12th October 2019

A brief service was held in the Cathedral (because of rain) remembering Nurse Cavell on the anniversary of her execution. The preacher was the Revd Paul Burr, Rector of Swardeston.

Earlier 2019 commemorations

In early May 1919 Edith Cavell’s remains were exhumed from the Tir National shooting range in Brussels where she had been shot on 12 October 1915. Her coffin was returned to Dover from Ostend on the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Rowena. Early on Thursday May 15th it was conveyed in a specially prepared railway van (now located in Kent – http://www.preservation.kesr.org.uk/wagons-vans/cavell) to Victoria station in London. The coffin was taken on a gun carriage with full military honours to Westminster Abbey for a memorial service at 11.45. Queen Alexandra and the Prime Minister, David Lloyd George,  were present.

The coffin then travelled through the crowded London streets to Liverpool Street station where a special 14.30 train took it to Norwich. All along the line people stood in silence remembering nurse Cavell.

At 17.30 that day her remains were laid to rest in a simple grave outside the east end of Norwich Cathedral.

There were events in May 2019 to mark the centenary of these events:

In Ostend, Belgium26th April to 13th May 2019
Oostende Town Hall, Vindictivelaan 1, 8400 Oostende
 – Edith Cavell Exhibition

In Brussels May 2019
Holy Trinity Pro-Cathedral, Rue Capitaine Crespel 29, 1050 Bruxelles
Edith Cavell Memorial Service.

In Dover, Kent: On Tuesday May 14 the bells of St Mary’s church were rung from 10 am – 1 pm in memory of Edith Cavell – see https://www.dadonline.eu/updates/the-bells-of-st-marys-will-peal-once-again-for-edith-cavell/. An exhibition of photographs of 1919 events were on display.

In Swardeston, Norfolk (where Edith grew up): From Saturday May 11th in church a new exhibition of material from the church’s archive and a new walk around the village seeing sites relevant to her. Parties wishing to have a guide for the walk please book via enquiry@edithcavell.org.uk  Music related to Edith Cavell will be available to listen to in the church.

Wednesday May 15 2019 – the centenary of the return of Edith Cavell’s body to London with services at Westminster Abbey and Norwich Cathedral. 

In London : Edith Cavell was remembered along with Florence Nightingale at Westminster Abbey in a service for nurses at noon.

In Norwich : The Dean of Westminster preached in Norwich Cathedral at 6.30pm on May 15th at a service marking the centenary .

In Harwich Suffolk : from July 5-14 centenary commemorations of the return of the body of Captain Charles Fryatt from Belgium on July 8.

More detail on Capt Fryatt at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Fryatt. The ‘Cavell Van’ which conveyed both his coffin and Edith Cavell’s and that of the Unknown Warrior (November 11th 1920) was open to visitors at the Mayflower Heritage Centre in George Street Harwich. See https://kesr.org.uk/our-heritage/stations/ for more details (scroll down to the section on Bodiam Station, the Cavell Van is mentioned in the final paragraph). There was a new exhibition on nurse Cavell by a local embroiderer’s guild and other linked events.

The background story of 1919

For an extended account of the 1919 events from contemporary records please link to https://www.edithcavell.org.uk/1919-2.