On Monday August 4, the nation will be commemorating the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, and Kensington will be marking the occasion with great solemnity. At the War Memorial, outside St Mary Abbots Church, there will be an opportunity for members of the public to light a candle and leave it burning, in remembrance of the outbreak of the war. Candles have been generously sponsored by JH Kenyons Funeral Directors, and so any donations collected at the war memorial will be for the Royal British Legion.
During the day, St Mary Abbots Church will be open all day for people to come in for quiet contemplation and prayer, as usual. In addition, at each hour, passages from the Great War poets and scripture will be read aloud. The first reading will be read at 11am by the Mayor, who will also lay a wreath at the memorial to the postal workers who died between 1914-18. In addition, a bell will be tolled for each of the 177 men from St Mary Abbots who died during the first war.
There will be opportunity for members of the public to write their own prayers, and display them on a “Prayer Wall”. These prayers will be read at the services of Morning and Evening Prayer, and Holy Communion during the rest of the week. At 1.05pm, there will be a very simple service of Holy Communion, with a particular focus on the beginning of the war (and the breaking of the peace), to which all are welcome.
At 10pm, the day culminates with a vigil, lasting about an hour, including some music, readings, and silence. Once again, all are welcome to this service. It will begin in church, and end with a candlelit procession to the war memorial, where the candles will finally be extinguished—in recollection of the words of Sir Edward Grey after war had been declared, “The lamps are going out all over Europe.”