Over 450 people attended the Cathedral on Sunday 11th November to pay their respects at a special Service of Remembrance and Reconciliation to mark the Centenary of the Armistice. This moving service commemorated the lives of all those affected by the First World War and recognised the common humanity between opposing sides in conflict, culminating in a cascade of poppies descending from above. Visitors to the Cathedral were also invited to attach a message of peace to a stunning 9 metre high willow sculpture, the Spire of Peace, created especially for the Centenary.
A large congregation, including veterans and civic dignitaries, heard a sermon by the Bishop of Chichester, the Right Reverend Dr Martin Warner. Invited guests at the service included the Mayor of Chichester and County Council Chairs, the Lord-Lieutenant of West Sussex, Mrs Susan Pyper, the Vice Lord-Lieutenant of East Sussex and the High Sheriff of West Sussex, a representative of the Friends of Chartres and the Cathedral's ecumenical link from Germany, together with members of the Royal Sussex Regimental Association, whose President, Colonel Roderick Arnold, presented the names of those from the Regiment who gave their lives during the war.
With a focus on the theme of reconciliation and peace-making the Armistice Centenary service also featured war poetry read by actress Nimmy March, and music sung by the Cathedral Choir with texts from poets Laurence Binyon and Edward Thomas. Symbolising a united commemoration and ambition for global harmony, petals from British poppies, French cornflowers and German forget-me-nots cascaded down from the roof of the Nave over the altar before the congregation were invited to commit to working together for peace.
The Bishop of Horsham, The Right Reverend Mark Sowerby, said of the service: 'Along with the parishes, the Cathedral has helped Sussex to observe the 100th Armistice Day with solemnity, but with imagination and hope for the future.'
The day was also marked with a series of special events by the Cathedral's bell ringers, as they joined with villages, towns and cities throughout the country to take part in the national 'Ringing Remembers' event. At 12.30pm they joined with bell ringers across the nation to mark the Armistice Centenary and followed this up with a further peal of the Cathedral bells, before, and after, the service.
Visitors to the Cathedral were also able to explore an impressive 9 metre tall willow installation - a 'Spire of Peace'- newly installed in the Cathedral's North Transept. The sculpture has been designed and hand-woven by local artists Mark and Rebecca Ford (of 'Two Circles Design') using over 15,000 individual willow branches. The outside of the structure is covered in a beautiful spiralling mass of over 1000 paper butterflies - symbols of transformation and renewal - all hand-folded by local young people and community groups. Visitors are able to step inside the sculpture and contribute to the Spire by attaching their own personal pledge for peace. This extraordinary willow Spire will be on display until Thursday 22nd November and is free for all to explore.