St Albans Cathedral Marks First World War Centenary With A Month Of Remembrance

Thu, 24 July 2014

St Albans Cathedral will be marking the centenary of the start of the First World War in August 2014 with a commemorative exhibition exploring the parish’s 10 unique war memorials situated in the streets of those who died. This is believed to be the only cluster of intimate street memorials of its kind in England.

The display invites visitors to place themselves in St Albans at the outbreak of war in 1914, in a notoriously poor parish that would later experience a heavy loss of life. Visitors will learn about entire families who played a part in the war effort, the role of women both at home and in France, and decorated war heroes who never returned.

The exhibition forms part of a full programme of events commemorating the centenary of the First World War.

A free Family Discovery Morning on Thursday 7th August encourages children to explore historical ideas of conflict and resolution depicted throughout the building. For older children, there are workshops available during the summer holidays with specially themed activities including creating ‘War Horse’ puppets, beautiful watercolours, and handling original pieces of First World War ‘trench art’ – small pieces of art and toys crafted by soldiers out of bullet shells, shrapnel and other paraphernalia. Places can be booked via the Cathedral website. Workshops are £7 and last for two hours.

For adults, there is a free More to Explore tour examining the many memorials to fallen soldiers within the building, and walks around the Cathedral’s unique parish memorials offered in partnership with St Albans City Guides.

Later on in the year, St Albans Cathedral Study Centre are also offering a special series of lectures and seminars focused on the topic of the First World War from distinguished speakers including Professor Jack Spence OBE, who will be giving a talk on 'Poets Vs. Historians: Competing Narratives of World War One' on Thursday 27th November at 7.30pm. Places can be booked via the Cathedral Study Centre.

Canon Chancellor, Kevin Walton said ‘In our wide ranging programme commemorating the outbreak of the First World War we will remember its profound and devastating effects on our community – not least in the tragic loss of so many young and promising lives. We hope people of all ages and experience will come to learn, to share and reflect, and perhaps to pray – for the departed, and for peace and reconciliation in our own community, and in Europe’.

A vigil service to commemorate the outbreak of war in 1914 will be held on Monday 4th August, from 10pm – 11pm in the Quire. This will be a service of reflection, readings and compline to commemorate the start of the First World War. All are welcome to attend.

View full details of the First World War Centenary Programme


Notes for Editors

  • This exhibition has been created with the kind assistance and research of St Albans and Hertfordshire Architectural and Archaeological Society.
  • The exhibition opens from 12pm on 1st August until 18th August. It is open daily from 10am – 3.45pm and is free to visit. Visitors are advised to check the Cathedral website before attending.
  • Tickets for the Children’s Workshops can be booked via the Cathedral website (, by calling 01727 890290 or visiting the Box Office located in the Cathedral Gift Shop.
  • Professor Jack Spence, OBE is Professor of Diplomacy at the Department of War Studies at Kings College London. He was appointed his OBE in 2002 for teaching services to the Ministry of Defence.
  • St Albans Cathedral has been awarded a grant of £438,000 from the First World War Centenary Cathedral Repairs Fund. This grant will fully fund urgent work to the great west front, the Cathedral’s main ceremonial entrance, to repair and protect the medieval stonework of the west porches, the surrounding 19th century masonry, the grand oak doors and the stunning first world war memorial window.
  • There will be a national candlelit vigil at Westminster Abbey on 4th August, 11pm to commemorate the lights going out across Europe. Churches across the country will be taking part.

Plan your visit

Download our brochure

Book Tickets