Summer Festival 2004

Remembering the 90th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, 4th August 1914

Over the time I have been here in Nottingham, I have gently been trying to encourage us to use the opportunity of our Patronal Festival of St Peter (29th June) to promote a range of events for the city as a whole - in other words to create a Summer Festival, something notably lacking in the city in recent years.

As I have mentioned before, this year is the 90th anniversary of the beginning of World War 1. This is not of course something to celebrate, but it was and remains a formative historical event; and since it became known as “the war to end all wars” it seems to be a fitting moment to reflect on that theme. It is especially relevant because the key political event that led to the declaration of war, the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo, took place on 28th June which is the day before St Peter’s Day.

So from the end of June this year, through July and into the beginning of August when our choir is undertaking a week’s tour in Northern Europe in places very much associated with the battlefields of that war, we are promoting in collaboration with a number of other organisations a range of special events to give us the chance both to remember that terrible conflict and the effects on individuals and families that it had, but also to think about the theme of the War and Peace and the struggles of war right through to the present day.

Our Patronal Festival weekend will begin on Saturday 26th June with a coffee break concert which will include a performance of a range of wartime songs by Liz Robertson, who gave a performance three years ago in St Peter’s of Songs from the Shows. On Sunday morning at our Festival Eucharist we shall welcome an old friend back as our preacher, the Bishop of Cyprus and the Gulf (and President Bishop of the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East) Clive Handford, whose diocese of course includes Iraq. In the evening, we shall have a service that will include readings of war poetry and sacred music appropriate to the occasion.

On 1st July there will be a City Debate (I am still in the process of confirming who will be the speaker at that) followed by a reception and the opening of our Exhibition at Waterstones (who are willing collaborators in the project, along with the County Archives Office and others), but for this to be a success we really do need offers of material from your family archives. A number of people have offered material, but there is plenty of room on the top floor of Waterstones!

On 3rd July John Lord and John Burr are planning a walk/pilgrimage to the Vimy Ridge Memorial in Nottinghamshire, which will enable anyone to join in for as much or as little as they wish. It will end with an act of remembrance at the memorial, provided we can get permission to do it. Vimy Ridge was the battle in 1916 where the Sherwood Foresters lost around 20,000 men. The whole walk is quite long, but most of the way very easy being along the banks of the Grantham Canal. And on 4 July we will be welcoming the Dean of Durham, Michael Sadgrove, as our preacher. Michael was both my Old Testament tutor and subsequently my training incumbent in Alnwick, and he is coming partly to mark the twentieth anniversary of my ordination.

On Tuesday 13th July at 5.45pm we shall host the latest in our series of Rush Hour Concerts led by the English Pro Musica, and a choir, including members of our own choir, who will perform Haydn’s ‘Mass in time of War’.

During the whole month of July, Broadway Cinema is going to show a series of films which pick up the theme of the personal cost of war, and one of those, the silent film ‘Hearts of the World’, will be shown in St Peter’s on Saturday 17th July. On 18th July we shall be welcoming the Bishop of Natal, Rubin Philip, who was a very key figure in the struggle against apartheid and now is of course a close friend as we develop our Companion Link relationship with the Diocese of Natal.

The Footprints Theatre Group (who produce the Mystery Plays that we have hosted with St Mary’s and St Nic’s) are going to put on performances of their play that explores the famous Christmas Truce of 1914. This is aimed at children but is also quite appropriate for adults, and there will be a couple of afternoon performances specially for older people; but we shall also, we hope, be seeing large numbers of school children coming in for that and visiting the Waterstones Exhibition as well.

And on the the anniversary of the outbreak of the war itself, 4th August, we hope that Broadway will be showing the original film ‘Oh What a Lovely War’, and we will either precede it or follow it with an appropriate Act of Remembrance, depending on the time of performance. The Choir then goes off to sing services in Cambrai Cathedral, St George’s Memorial Church and the Menin Gate in Ypres, in Laon Cathedral and in Ypres Cathedral, and we hope they will also visit some of the key sites and museums.

There will be other concerts and events, for which all details have not yet been tied up. If anyone would like to help with the organisation of individual events, or publicity do let anyone in the Parish Office know. We would be especially glad to have assistance with mounting and staffing the exhibition which will be open all of July.

Andrew Deuchar
© St Peter's Church, Nottingham
Last revised 2nd May 2004