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Churches During VE Day

Chichester’s Cathedral floodlit during VE Day celebrations  (Acc. 12.11.46)

Church services across the city and across all denominations began at 7pm. The Observer records:

We have never seen a larger congregation at the Cathedral and many people were disappointed of gaining admission to the subdeanery church. St Pancras and St Richards were both packed and the free churches also had large admissions.

They sang or recited the Te Deum, joined in hymns like 'Now thank with all our God' and 'O God, our help in ages past' and rose to patriotic fervour in rendering the National Anthem. They joined in prayer of gratitude for victory, for the valour of the fighting forces who had made it possible and remembered with honour the sacrifices of the fallen.

There were many members of the forces at these services and civilians of every age.

The band continued playing at the cross until 9pm, with bursts of singing and cheering, impromptu processions round the Cross, making up a scene of much animation. There was a considerable element of sailors, soldiers, airmen and members of the women's services, parties of whom, with linked arms, and colours flying, paraded the streets singing patriotic choruses or popular ditties. One party of young khaki-clad men formed a ring at one spot and started a dance on their own. Laughter and good humour held the field everywhere.

There was a lull for the broadcast of the King's speech at 9pm, after which the band headed a tremendous following of people, singing and cheering to the Cattle Market, where dancing went on in an effectively illuminated area until 10.30 and radio music being used there afterwards. When it became sufficiently dark the crowd remaining in West Street greatly admired the illumination of the City Cross and the assembly there became considerably augmented for the flood lighting of the Cathedral which can only be described as a very beautiful spectacle.

The effect was enhanced by the inside lighting, revealing the many colours of the stained-glass windows, except those still protectively covered - a reminder that there was an occasion when a German nuisance raider dropped a bomb at no great distance from this building. A late peal on the bells harmonised with the impressiveness of the scene and a great many people visited the interior of the cathedral.