THE light of candles flickered movingly amid the darkness of Winchester Cathedral.
An estimated 750 people took part in a vigil of remembrance on Monday to mark the centenary of the outbreak of World War One.
At one stage the great church was plunged into the black before a verse of the great hymn about death, Abide with Me, was sung. Moments later the paschal candle was brought in and small candles of peace were passed around the congregation.
The Dean of Winchester, the Very Rev James Atwell, speaking to the Chronicle, said of the anniversary: “One of the things you suddenly realise is that all those thousands of names on war memorials across the land are real people.”
The Dean, whose great uncle was a stretcher bearer in the trenches, said the theme of the evening, which comprised hymns, readings, music and period film projected onto columns, was reconciliation and the hope that lessons have been learned.
The event, part of the nationwide Lights Out initiative, was attended by young and old, many service men and women, local political leaders including city council leader Rob Humby, mayors from Winchester, Fareham and Eastleigh and the Lord Lieutenant Mary Fagan.
Across the country people were encouraged to turn off their lights for an hour from 10pm and leave a candle in a window.
At 9.30pm on Monday, a work of art was unveiled outside the cathedral to the strains of The Last Post played by an Army bugler.
Box 459 (pictured below) is a metal cube with 459 holes to mark the number of men from Winchester killed between 1914-18. Another 43 apertures symbolise the dead from the parishes in the city council district.
Its creator, local architect Andy Ramus, managing director of AR Design, based in Southgate Street, said the city council had suggested a light sculpture but with a four-week deadline.
"My first thought was ‘no chance’. It took three weeks to build and we only got it on Saturday afternoon.”
Mr Ramus explained how he got the idea: “How could we connect the people of Winchester and the war? And then I thought of the number of dead.”
The cube, made of Corten steel, the same as the Angel of the North, and weighing a quarter of a tonne, was due to remain in place in front of the war memorial for four days. It will reappear for Remembrance Sunday and then potentially be relocated in the Outer Close until 2018, said Mr Ramus.
The cube dimensions are 1,100mm echoing the symbolic 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, when the fighting ended in 1918.
Meanwhile am exhibition about a usually overlooked aspect of history has opened at the Quaker Meeting House in Colebrook Street.
The exhibition in the garden is on conscientious objectors, people who refused to kill on ethical grounds. It runs until October 12. Opening times are Mondays to Thursdays 3-5pm, Fridays 3-7pm, and Saturdays 10am-5pm.