Church set to be centre of commemoration events

Church members Janice Parks (left) and Pat Baker who are helping to stage a World War I flower festival at St James' Church at Morpeth.'REF 2107149379
Church members Janice Parks (left) and Pat Baker who are helping to stage a World War I flower festival at St James' Church at Morpeth.'REF 2107149379

The Parish of Morpeth has organised a series of events to commemorate the impact of the First World War, both in the field of battle and on the home front.

A flower festival, featuring displays marking the contribution of different organisations during the conflict, will run from Friday, August 1, to Monday, August 4.

It will also highlight the way in which the war altered lives by reminding those who go along to St James’ Church in Copper Chare that prior to August 1914, the people of the time were ‘people like us’ living ordinary lives and enjoying some of the same hobbies and interests that we do today.

An historical display by the Morpeth Antiquarian Society will focus on the impact of the war on the local community.

Outside, in the church grounds, there will also be a memorial garden where visitors can place a cross in remembrance of those who were involved in the war.

One of the organisers from the church management group at St James, Anna Greig, said: “When we were looking at ways in which the church could be used and could be more involved in the life of the community, we discussed a whole range of activities including concerts, exhibitions and significant national and local events.

“We realised the centenary of the start of the First World War was one such event and felt that we wanted to create an opportunity for people to remember this. We felt that in the church, we could host a series of events that would not only be enjoyable in their own right, but would allow people the space to reflect on the impact of the First World War.

“It affected the whole of Morpeth and the programme will recognise the contribution of those who went to fight and those who were on the home front.”

The flower festival will be opened by the Mayor at 7pm on Friday, August 1, and this preview event will run until 9.30pm.

It will then be open, along with the historical display, between 10am and 6pm on the Saturday, Sunday and Monday – excluding services at 12.30pm on August 2, and 10am and 2pm on August 3.

The one at 10am on Sunday, August 3, is a special civic service of commemoration. The Parish of Morpeth congregation will be joined by members of other churches in the town, as well as representatives of Morpeth Town Council and local uniformed organisations.

Another of the main organisers, Liz Scott-Tatum, said: “The final event in the programme is a vigil service from 10pm to 11pm on Monday, August 4. It will mark the time 100 years ago when war was declared and all hopes of peace were lost.

“The flower-arrangers taking part are from all three parish churches (the others are St Mary’s Church and St Aidan’s Church) and the displays will include one about the First World War poets and one showing what people did before they went to war.”

Refreshments will be available for visitors throughout the weekend and there will be a donation box in the church – all monies raised during the events will be distributed to military charities.

In addition, the Anchor section members of Morpeth Boys’ Brigade helped with the planting of some poppy seeds in the memorial garden.