The centre of any remembrance service is the Cenotaph, a monumental tomb to those who fell. The one most will be familiar with is the Cenotaph in Whitehall, London, which is where the televised service, involving the Queen, takes place. Southampton too has a cenotaph, designed by Edwin Lutyens and opened in Watts Park on 6 November 1920, 93 years ago last Wednesday.
As Lutyens was well known for designing these monuments he included designs he had used on similar cenotaphs around the world. Even the Whitehall cenotaph is said to be based upon the one stood in Southampton. Today the monument is accompanied by several glass panels with the names of the fallen, added recently. The old monument unfortunately ran out of room for names only two years after it was built and those names had started to erode away.
In addition to inspiring the Cenotaph in London, Southampton has another claim to having influenced Remembrance Sunday services and a clue to this lies in the city’s clock tower.
Keen listeners may have noticed that the tower does more than just ring every hour. Every four hours it plays a little tune – O God our help in ages past. This song was written by Sir Isaac Watts, who was born and lived in Southampton. He is remembered at his old school, King Edward VI school, and even has a park named after him as well as a statue in his memory. The song itself is a firm favourite at remembrance services across the country and it is for this reason that it is played from the clock tower.
So when you’re next in the city centre listen out for the chimes around 8am, noon and 4pm and do look at the cenotaph as you pass on the U1 and 2 buses.
There are several ways to remember:
- Buying and wearing a poppy
- The national services are broadcast on television, including the Festival of Remembrance (Saturday at 9.15pm, BBC One) and the national service from Whitehall (Sunday, 10.20am, BBC One)
- Join the service at the Southampton Cenotaph on Sunday at 10.50am.
- The University will also have its own small moment of silence on Monday at 10.50am.