Skip to content

Remembrance Day at Trinity

Trinity College students will plant 619 poppies on the grass in Great Court for the annual Remembrance Day service, which this year marks the end of the First World War.

619 members of College lost their lives in the conflict – they are commemorated in the Chapel – and as part of the 100th anniversary ofthe war’s end, Trinity is organising a special service of remembrance on 11 November.

‘At the start of the service, we will gather in Great Court at 10.45am for the Act of Remembrance in front of 619 poppies laid out in one of the lawns in Great Court,’ said Head of the Chapel and Music Office, Paul Nicholson.

‘Each poppy represents a student, Fellow or member of staff who fought and died in the war, and every Trinity student will receive a unique invitation to the service, with information about one of the members who died in the war.’

Following the Last Post and two minutes silence, the congregation will be welcome to attend Mattins in the Chapel at which Sir John Tusa will preach. The service is open to the public. Mattins in the Chapel will be webcast live via

Molly O’Brien, President of Trinity College Students’ Union (TCSU) said: ‘The student body of Trinity today owes so much of its freedom to those who lost their lives 100 years ago. In the centenary year of the end of the First World War, it is especially moving to think of students who were here, like us, eating in Hall, reading in the library – but who ended up giving their lives in the war.’

Becky Shepherdson, TCSU Vice President said:

We look forward to commemorating the price that Trinity students paid for global peace and using this moment to reflect on our duty to learn from the past to prevent such atrocities from happening again. Students at Trinity come from all over the world and we will ensure that everyone knows about the two minutes silence on 11 November and the poppy tradition – as usual, poppies will be available (for a donation) in the Porters’ Lodge.

Nevile’s Court Cloisters during the First World War

There are memorials in Trinity’s Chapel to those who fought and died in the First and Second World Wars: the 619 men who fell in the First World War are carved into the wooden panelling at the east end; and the 384 who died in the Second World War are sculpted into the massive marble wall in the Ante-chapel.

Those who can’t visit Trinity in person can view each tribute on the Chapel’s website, which lists every member of College who died in the two world wars.

During the First World War, the Royal Army Medical Corps established the headquarters of the First Eastern General Hospital at Trinity and the College grounds were filled with temporary wards for injured soldiers.

The conflicts affected students, staff and Fellows of Trinity. Henry Montagu Butler (1833-1918) was Master of Trinity from 1886-1918. His three sons from his second marriage fought in the First World War. Two survived but his middle son, Gordon Kerr Montagu Butler, died in Egypt in 1916.

Trinity was home to Fellows with very different views on the two world wars. Two members of the Trevelyan family, several generations of whom studied at Trinity, were opposed to Britain’s entry into the war.

Part of the First World War memorial in Trinity’s Chapel

Robert Calverley Trevelyan, who studied Classics and Law at Trinity, was a pacifist who sheltered the conscientious objector John Rodker. Sir Charles Trevelyan, a Liberal and later Labour MP, resigned from the government in 1914, founding the Union of Democratic Control, in opposition to the war.

Their brother, the famous historian George Macaulay Trevelyan, was unfit for military service due to poor eyesight and commanded an ambulance unit close to the Italian front, an experience that shocked him. He was Master of Trinity from 1940 to 1951.

The philosopher Bertrand Russell had been appointed to a special five-year lectureship in 1910 and was on the verge of being appointed a Fellow when he was convicted for opposing conscription and deprived of his lectureship. A prominent anti-war activist, Russell came round to the belief that war against Nazi Germany was the necessary ‘lesser of two evils.’ Symbolic of the reconciliation between the College and Russell was his election to the Fellowship in 1944.

A protégé of Russell’s, the Austrian, later British, philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein, had immediately signed up with the Austro-Hungarian Army when war broke out in 1914. Two decades later, by then a Professor at Cambridge and Fellow of Trinity, Wittgenstein insisted on working as an orderly at Guy’s Hospital in London, in frustration with teaching philosophy when war was raging.

The memorial to members of College who died in the Second World War

Other commemorative events in Trinity’s Chapel

Saturday 10 November, 2.30-3.30pm

Lydbrook Band: A concert of music for brass band to commemorate the centenary of the end of the First World War

Sunday 11 November, 6.15pm

A special Service of Music and Readings for Remembrance

This article was published on :

Back To Top
College Crest

Contact us

        Intranet | Student Hub

Access and Outreach Hub