On Monday night, 4th August, everyone in the UK is invited to take part in the “LIGHTS OUT” project to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. Participating individuals or organisations can do so by turning off their lights from 10pm to 11pm on the evening of 4th August, leaving on a single light or candle for a shared moment of reflection.
Around the country people can take part in whatever way they choose, marking the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War either individually or by attending one of the many events being organised around the country for a collective experience.
At Freemasons’ Hall in London’s Great Queen Street we will be turning off all lights except those on the Memorial Shrine in the Grand Temple Vestibule. The Shrine commemorates the 3,225 Freemasons who died on active service in the First World War and in whose memory Freemasons’ Hall was built.
The national Lights Out event is supported using public funds, approved by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and funded by the heritage lottery fund and the Arts Council for England.
The enormous losses and upheaval incurred by the First World War changed the world forever.
The British Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey, was among those to glimpse the enormity of the imminent war. Late in the afternoon of 3 August, on the last day of peace, Grey stood at the window of his office in Whitehall and was overwhelmed by a sense of foreboding tragedy. As he looked out he saw that the street lights were being lit down below. He turned to a visiting friend and observed:
‘The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.’
In Britain, the 1914 declaration of war was on 4th August.