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Events put spotlight on the day 100 years ago when war came

By Ashbourne News Telegraph  |  Posted: July 22, 2014

  • In Flanders fields the poppies grow ... a symbol of sadness. Tommies go over the top and come under fire in the First World Ward.

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Next weekend, Ashbourne will join the nation in remembering the outbreak of the First World War. Gareth Butterfield rounds up the events organised in the town.

ASHBOURNE is due to see one of the biggest line-ups of events in the area as part of the national commemoration of the outbreak of the First World War in 1914.

The centenary will be marked across the country but, in Ashbourne, a hard-working team has put together a busy itinerary of events that take place throughout the town, many of which are free to attend.

From exhibitions covering life in wartime to an uplifting party in the park, the event promises entertainment, education and opportunities of remembrance for everyone.

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Dates for your diary:


Ashbourne Town Hall Ballroom: An exhibition of memorabilia, family and local history. A free exhibition which explores the town's men who went off to fight in what they thought would be a great adventure, to be returning by Christmas.

The stories of the men who were sadly never to return are told by the 2014-2018 Commemorative Group.

History, audio, and visual displays will be open daily from 10.30am to 4pm.

Ashbourne Town Hall Marion Abbot Room: Brian Stone will give a talk entitled Legacy of WWI from 1pm on the exhibition's opening day, explaining the aftermath of the Great War.

Century Hall, Station Road: The hall will be transformed into a re-creation of a Red Cross Hospital which will be opened at 10am on Saturday by Lady Scarsdale, whose predecessor opened the original hospital in 1914. The original beds are still in existence and will be brought out of storage for the event.

The exhibition will be open every day from 10.30am until 2.30pm except for Sundays.

Ashbourne Heritage Centre, Church Street: The Heritage Society will run an exhibition daily from 11am until 4pm entitled Home Front, examining the place of women in war while their men were away and how it affected the town.

From tending the fields to ploughing and sewing seed, the women showed great tenacity and spirit and this is their story.

On show will be a work by artist Ken Flint who has been commissioned to produce a painting of Shrovetide being played in the trenches when a ball was sent to France to the Sherwood Foresters.

The Gallery, St John Street: A series of paintings depicting a young street urchin and his progression through the war produced for the commemoration committee also by Ken Flint.

Ashbourne Leisure Centre: The community facility will host an exhibition of children's art throughout the commemoration.

Members of the commemorative group have been visiting schools and pupils were asked to design plates depicting their thoughts on the war.

Visitors to the free exhibition will be invited to pick their favourite plate and a winner will be chosen.

The exhibition will follow the leisure centre's usual opening times.

St Oswald's Church: The Mayfield Road church will be home to a display of art by pupils from Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School.

The exhibition will run until mid September.

Ex-Servicemen's Club: The Market Place venue will hold an event called the Relative Exhibition from the end of July until mid-September. It will be open every Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 10.30am.


Kitchener's Party in the Park: A free family day in the Memorial Gardens, where people will be serenaded by Ashbourne Town Band while enjoying a picnic and games from the time with a modern twist.

Also taking place will be a 1914 joining-up re-enactment from the Mercian Regiment, who will put people through their paces, and a display of vintage vehicles.

Ashbourne Cricket Club: The club will be staging a cricket match, taking on some of the town's Shrovetide players and cream teas will be served in the pavilion.

Fishpond Meadow: A boys' Shrovetide football game, for pupils from Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School, will take place.

The game, which has been organised by the Green Road school and the Shrovetide Players' Committee, will recreate the football match on the Somme.

There are two matches for two age groups and the games are due to begin at 1.30pm.

Recreation Ground: There will be entertainment and amusements from the era and a fancy dress competition for under-10s – and look out for "Suffragettes" who will be handing out leaflets.

Exhibitions will be closed today.


Ashbourne Library: A quiz night takes place at 7.30pm in the Compton public building.

The cost is £5 per person and the questions, set by the librarians, will follow refreshments served by the commemoration group members. There is a £30 prize for the winning team.

Tickets are available from the Tourist Information Centre behind the town hall.


Ashbourne Methodist Church: Dr Ian Whitehead, who is a published authority on early 1900s medicine from the University of Derby, will host an illustrated talk on Army medicine and its progress. The talk begins at 7.30pm.


Ashbourne Town Hall ballroom: Vintage costume expert Notty Hornblower and friends host a display of fashions of the time from 7pm.

Tickets are available from the town hall or the Tourist Information Centre.


St Oswald's Church Hall: A talk entitled The Three Armies, focusing on the British Contribution, will be given by Dr Alun Thomas from Birmingham University. The talk will take place at 7.30pm.


Empire Ballroom: The King Edward Street venue becomes an old-time music hall with entertainment for all ages from 7.30pm provided by local talent for a one-off appearance.

Tickets are available from the town hall or the Tourist Information Centre.


Town Hall balcony and Market Place: A re-enactment of the declaration of war will be read by MP Patrick McLoughlin from the Town Hall balcony at 2.15pm.

The Market Place will be transformed into a lively and vibrant 1914 market with period features.

There will then be a procession to St Oswald's Church, where a special service will start at 3pm, followed by the laying of a specially commissioned wreath at the memorial gates in Park Road.

Exhibitions will be closed today.


Memorial Gardens: Marking the anniversary of the day of declaration and rounding off the commemoration events, a candlelit vigil will take place from 9.30pm until 11pm.

The names of 111 soldiers who fell during the conflict will be read out.

A drum major and a bugler from the 2nd Battalion Mercian Regiment will attend.

This event will be moved to St Oswald's Church if it is raining.

As part of a national commemoration, everyone is invited to show a mark of respect by turning off their lights from 10pm until 11pm this evening, leaving on a single light or candle for a shared time of reflection.

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