The Battle of the Somme, remembered at Lichfield Cathedral

Wed, 13/07/2016 - 14:21

‘Before Action’ is a special commemoration event, and an exclusive art installation, taking place at Lichfield Cathedral this August, to mark the anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.

The commemoration event will take place over three evenings from 4th – 6th August and will transform the inside of the Cathedral into a thought-provoking, emotive and poignant landscape. This will symbolise the journey taken by soldiers to the front, using the words of war poets, visual arts, light and sound.

The event incorporates a series of stunning light projections and sound artworks created by artist Peter Walker and composer David Harper, who collaborate as ‘Luxmuralis’; an exhibition of  WW1-related prints by artist Dennis May; an Edwardian sitting room; and exclusive recordings of war poetry by Oscar-winning actor Eddie Redmayne.

Eddie Redmayne OBE is a critically acclaimed actor best known for his roles in films such as ‘Les Miserables’, ‘The Danish Girl’, and ‘The Theory of Everything’, for which he won the Academy, BAFTA, Golden Globe and SAG Award for Best Actor.

Jason Dyer, Development Director at Lichfield Cathedral, says: ’Within the Cathedral there are Books of Remembrance that record all those who sacrificed their lives from our region in the Great War.  We hope this very special commemoration event for the Battle of the Somme will provide a poignant, respectful and moving way in which all visitors can remember those who lost their lives during this tragic time.”

This installation has been developed by the team at the Cathedral as part of Peter Walker’s Artist in Residency programme. Other projects for this programme have included ‘A Cathedral Illuminated’, a fantastic Christmas light show; and ‘The Second Day’, Somme et Lumière during Lichfield Festival.

Peter Walker adds: “In the heat of conflict 100 years ago, some of the most remarkable poems in the English language were written by young men and women who lost their lives. Eddie Redmayne’s recitations of 4 of these poems form a central moment of reflection on the beauty and emotive nature of art.”

There is no charge to attend the event, however donations to the Cathedral are hugely appreciated. Entry will be every 30 minutes from 19.00 to midnight on Thursday 4th, Friday 5th and Saturday 6th August. There will be a special ending to the event each evening at midnight.


Lichfield Cathedral

Lichfield Cathedral is the only medieval three-spired Cathedral in the UK, and is a treasured landmark in the heart of England. It is one of the oldest places of Christian worship, and the burial place of the great Anglo-Saxon missionary Bishop, St Chad. 

Peter Walker, Artist in Residence

Peter Walker is the Cathedral’s Artist in Residence. Peter Walker is the Cathedral's Artist in Residence. He is orginally from Lichfield, and is an internationally renowned sculptor and artist. Peter is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and member of the Royal Society of British Sculptors. Producing sculptures, paintings, drawings, installation pieces, as well as Son-et-Lumiere, his extensive creative ability has led him to produce over 15 public statues located around the country and have works in private and public collections worldwide. 

Cathedral Treasures

Lichfield Cathedral is home to the St Chad Gospels and the Lichfield Angel. The St Chad Gospels, an illuminated Anglo Saxon gospel book which dates from about 730 (that is, about 50 years older than the famous Book of Kells). Discovered in 2003 the Lichfield Angel is a remarkable survival of Saxon sculpture. The carved limestone corner-piece, which is dated to around 800 A.D., comprises three separate fragments which are thought to have formed part of a tomb chest, presumably that of St Chad (d.672).