Blog

Swardeston - Visiting Edith Cavell's Birthplace

Posted on

Edith Cavell War memorial Swardeston

The war memorial in Swardeston, Norfolk, is rather special. A simple, granite stone Celtic cross has the name Edith Cavell at the top of the list of villagers who lost their lives in World War I (1914 - 1919). Nurse Edith Cavell was executed on 12th October 1915, by a German firing squad during World War I, for her role in assisting over 200 soldiers to escape from occupied Belgium. I visited Swardeston, the village where Edith was born and spent her childhood and taken on a walking tour by Nick Miller, Edith Cavell expert and author, to see the locations that were significent to Edith.

Edith Cavell - Swardeston

Edith Cavell's birthplace, Swardeston (private house NOT open to the public)

Edith Louisa Cavell was born in Swardeston on 4th December 1865. Her father was the Reverend Fredrick Cavell, vicar of St Mary's church, and her mother Louisa. She was the eldest of four siblings.

Edith Cavell - Vicarage Swardeston

The Vicarage (private home NOT open to the public)

Edith enjoyed a happy, Victorian middle class family childhood and was educated at home, in the Vicarage. She lived in the village until she was about 16 years old and then she would return to see her family for holidays.

 Edith Cavell - St Mary Church Swardeston

St Mary's Church

Edith's father was vicar of St Mary's Church, Swardeston for forty six years. St Mary's is a beautiful village church, in a picturequest setting, dating back to the 1100s.

 Edith Cavell - St Mary Church Swardeston

 St Mary's Church

Inside the church is a stunning simplity. The open beamed roof, white washed walls and wooden pews.

Edith Cavell - St Mary Church Swardeston

St Mary's Church 

 There is an ornately carved rood screen, seperating the chancel from the nave.

Edith Cavell - St Mary Church Swardeston The east window behind the altar - St Mary's Church

Edith Cavell - St Mary Church Swardeston

 Detail of the Edith Cavell window - St Mary's Church

 Edith Cavell - St Mary Church Swardeston

Plaque - St Mary's Church

The plaque says that the artist and craftsmen that made the memorial window gave their work free of charge, as their contribution towards the memorial.

Edith Cavell - Cavell family grave St Mary Church Swardeston

The Cavell family grave - St Mary's Church

Edith's parents are buried in St Mary's churchyard.  

Edith Cavell - Cavell family grave St Mary Church Swardeston

The Cavell family grave - St Mary's Church

Edith's family were given the option of having her buried in Westminster Abbey. However the family decided they wanted her back home and Edith is buried in the grounds of Norwich Cathedral.

The author of this blog is a qualified City of London and City of Westminster Tour Guide who leads guided walks combining world famous landmarks with hidden treasures often missed by the crowds.