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Abbey marks ANZAC Day in lockdown

Saturday, 25th April 2020

Abbey marks ANZAC Day in lockdown

The Abbey has upheld its long tradition of marking ANZAC Day by holding a special wreath laying ceremony conducted by the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr David Hoyle, at the Abbey’s West Door overlooking the Grave of the Unknown Warrior.

The Abbey was due to hold its annual ANZAC Day service today, 25th April, to commemorate the Gallipoli landings of April 1915 and to honour all Australians and New Zealanders who have given of themselves in the service of their countries and communities. It is believed to be the first time that the service has not been held for over 45 years.

The wreath laying is included in a special film released today by the High Commissions of New Zealand and Australia to mark Anzac Day.

His Excellency, New Zealand Acting High Commissioner to the UK, Mr David Evans and His Excellency the Honourable George Brandis QC, Australian High Commissioner to the UK, also laid wreaths at High Commission Offices in London.

The Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr David Hoyle, said:

Each year, in the Abbey, we commemorate the bitter cost of the unhesitating commitment that Australia and New Zealand made to the Commonwealth as they sent troops to Gallipoli.
Historian Robert Rhodes James ends his account of Gallipoli with a quotation lifted from Caxton’s Preface to Le Morte d’Arthur, ‘Herein may be seen noble chivalry, courtesy, humanity, friendliness, hardiness, love... Do after the good and leave the evil’. 
ANZAC day does not just summon up a memory of a terrible battle. In truth, it is a recollection of the ties that bind us into greater loyalties that stretch beyond the family into a nation and a world.  This year, in a world of bolted doors and empty streets our ANZAC celebration is candle in the dark, a reminder that we belong together and we will be together.

As well as the wreath laying ceremony the Right Honourable Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand, and the High Commissioner for Australia have provided readings for the Abbey’s podcast series, Abbeycast which will be released on Sunday 26th April at 9.00am (UK time).

The Abbey has also released a new historic article about Anzac Day and the Abbey’s involvement in commemorations.

The Abbey’s chaplain, the Reverend Jenny Petersen who is Australian, has also recorded a personal Reflection for Anzac Day.

One year after the Gallipoli landings, commemorations were held in 1916 in Australia, New Zealand and at Westminster Abbey. King George V and Queen Mary attended the Abbey service, as did hundreds of troops from New Zealand and Australia. It later became a regular annual observance at the Abbey.

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It’s a privilege to live and work here – the Abbey really is the heart of the country and its history.

Martin - The Dean’s Verger

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