World War I: reflecting and remembering

by Katie Rowe

Category: History & heritage
July 9 2014

As the days draw closer to the centenary of World War I, we round up some of the key events and exhibitions that commemorate one of the most devastating conflicts in modern history.

War Stories, Brighton Museum & Art Gallery

As part of the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery’s season of remembrance, there will be a major exhibition at the Brighton museum commemorating the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I. Witness the impact of wartime and its effect on individual lives via the stories of 15 people who experienced the Great War first hand. See the war through the eyes of a young girl born in 1914, an Indian soldier wounded on the Western Front and taken to a hospital in the Royal Pavilion, nurses and a gardener who was imprisoned for his pacifist beliefs. The exhibition begins on July 12 and continues until next March.

Statue 1101, Durham Heritage Coast

Statue 1101, Durham Heritage CoastSpend some time reflecting with 1101, a giant steel statue of a solider perched beside Seaham Beach, next to the Terrace Green cenotaph. Commissioned to commemorate the end of World War I, the title is a reference to the armistice that went into effect at 11am on November 11, 1918. Created by local artist Ray Lonsdale, the crestfallen 9ft 5in Tommy is stark reminder of the post-traumatic stress that many of the returning soldiers endured. Elsewhere in the picturesque market town of Barnard Castle, little ones can learn about the impact of World War I at the Bowes Museum. Children can take a look at precious artefacts, including a gift made by a soldier for his loved one, and then try making their own on October 27 and 29.

Trent to trenches, Nottingham Castle Museum & Art Gallery

This major exhibition marks one hundred years since the outbreak of the Great War, exploring the experiences of the people of Nottingham and Nottinghamshire at home and in the trenches. See photos, diaries, letters and artefacts, many on loan from members of the public, highlighting the lasting impact of the conflict on the communities of Nottinghamshire. Organised by Nottingham City Museums and Galleries, and researched and made possible by a large team of volunteers, Trent to Trenches is part of the Imperial War Museum’s First World War Centenary Partnership and runs from July 26 to November 16. Visit for your chance to win tickets.Trent to trenches, Nottingham Castle Museum & Art Gallery

A Day of Remembrance, Westminster Abbey

August 4, the day Britain entered the war, will be marked with a candlelit vigil of prayer at Westminster Abbey. The service is one of a number of events being announced by the Government to mark the centenary of the start of the Great War. During the evening of silence, prayers, readings and music, the congregation will see the light of candles disappear one by one until a final remaining candle is extinguished at 11pm. Other remembrance events will be held around the country. For more information, visit

Imperial War Museums

IWM London’s new First World War Galleries open on July 19. Drawing on IWM’s First World War collections – the richest and most comprehensive in the world – the Galleries will feature objects large and small, many of which have never been seen before. 14 exhibition areas will provide an extensive yet stimulating guide to poignant events throughout the Great War, bringing the past to life through diaries, letters, souvenirs, iconic recruitment posters, huge ship models, weapons, uniforms and even lucky charms made from shell fragments. Highlights include the Life at the Front area, where a Sopwith Camel plane looms above and a recreated trench blasts with gunfire, giving you a sense of what the troops had to endure.

In Manchester, From Street to Trench: A War That Shaped a Region will be the largest exhibition to explore the North West of England during the First World War, at IWM North. Running until May 31 2015, it illustrates how the region was shaped by the conflict and how the local people played a significant role in global events.

Over at IWM Duxford in Cambridgeshire, the focus will be on the hangars and buildings that date back to the latter stages of World War I. Visitors will be able to discover aspects of land warfare and mechanisation in the museum’s Land Warfare exhibition as well as First World War aircraft in its AirSpace exhibition.

Memories of August 1914, Liverpool

Liverpool will host the UK’s flagship First World War Centenary commemoration event – and it’s going to be big. Well, giant, to be precise. Memories of August 1914 is a spectacular piece of street theatre created by Royal De Luxe, the artists behind the Sea Odyssey, which captivated crowds of 800,000 people back in 2012.  A co-commission by Liverpool City Council and 14-18 NOW, spot the Little Girl Giant and her canine companion Xolo as they make their way round the city from July 23 to 27 as part of a brand new, poignant story that recollects the role of Liverpudlians in the Great War, the heroic achievements of the city and the memories of Liverpool in this magical tale of hope, loss and bravery. 

Memories of August 1914 in Liverpool


Dunham Massy, Cheshire 

During the First World War, this Georgian house was transformed into a military hospital, becoming a sanctuary from the trenches for almost 300 soldiers. Discover what life was like for the patients and how the war changed everything for those who lived and worked at Dunham, now a National Trust property. To mark the centenary, the house is turning the clocks back, allowing you to spend time in the ward, recreation room and operating theatre, experiencing what it was like to live and work at Stamford Hospital back in 1917.

Dunham Massy, Cheshire


Historic Houses Association (HHA)

The HHA has launched a new Historic Houses Wartime Trail to commemorate the centenary of the outbreak, sharing the stories of some of England’s great houses during wartime. The online heritage trail shows the impact that wars have had on those who stayed at home supporting their country during these difficult times and features HHA member properties across England, all of which have a story to tell about their property in times of conflict.

Discover more of England’s military heritage.

Katie Rowe

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