Born in Swardeston in 1865, Edith Cavell left Norfolk and trained as a nurse from 1895. She was responsible for starting the first professional school of nursing in Belgium in 1907 and, after the outbreak of World War I, nursed soldiers from both sides of the conflict. For nine months she worked with the Belgian and French resistance to shelter well over 200 soldiers from the German occupying forces, helping them escape to neutral Holland. She was betrayed and arrested, before being executed at 7.00am on Tuesday 12th October 1915.
On the night before her death her last words were: “Standing as I do in view of God and eternity, I realise that patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness for anyone.”
A walking / cycle route was designed between Swardeston and the Cathedral for pilgrims to follow, which includes significant locations Edith would have known in her early life, as well as her final resting place. A print-at-home trail map is available to download here
In May 2016 Edith's grave, located outside the East End of the Cathedral, was rededicated. In addition to being re-landscaped, the grave now features a new headstone and ledger stone.
Paintings of The Passion of Edith Cavell
To mark the centenary of Edith’s death, the Cathedral commissioned 14 paintings of The Passion of Edith Cavell: The Way of the Cross from artist Brian Whelan.
The paintings are displayed in the Cathedral Ambulatory around the time of her reburial in Norwich (15 May) and of her martyrdom (12 October). At other times, they are hung in the Historic Library (open Tuesday - Thursday 9.30 - 4.30 or by arrangement).