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National Memorial Arboretum

The Millennium Chapel of Peace and Forgiveness
The ChapelspaceIt was always the intention to build a Chapel at the site where dedicatory and remembrance services could be held and where people could stop a while in contemplation.

When it seemed that building work would coincide with the millennium celebrations, it seemed natural to link the chapel to that great event. In the end it was the only place of worship built in this country to mark specifically that milestone in faith.

The seats and kneelers in The Chapel have been donated or worked by men and women of every country.

Millennium Prayer
Anna beside Millennium Prayerspace This millennial aspect is made apparent at the entrance where the Millennium Prayer, written by Anna Crompton, and the winning entry in a competition run by Lord Lloyd-Webber, is mounted on the wall. The picture shows Anna standing beside the millennium prayer. It is displayed on the front of the building to greet all our visitors. The carving was executed by Tom Standon of Cedar of Lebanon.

St. Peterspace
The Chapel's wood construction echoes the early wooded churches that were built in Britain to house the new religion some 1700 years ago but its design goes even further back to the Greek temples where some of the earliest Gospel teaching would have been heard.
CockerelspaceThe structure is supported on twelve trunks of Douglas Fir, each one representing one of the twelve apostles on whose witness the early church was built. Each pillar has a carving by Jim Heath of one of the apostles. Saint Peter stands by the Chapel door, keys in hand with a cockerel at his sandalled feet. You can also see the carvings of two other apostles in the left margin. Click on any of the images to see larger pictures.

The Storyteller
The StorytellerspaceIn the corner of the chapel the Essex Woodcarvers have created 'The Storyteller' depicting a group of 12 children in modern dress listening to the same words that the apostles themselves heard. Thus we are trying to show the present day relevance of this 2,000 year-old teaching.

The Font
The font in The Chapel consists of a block of limestone provided by P.J.Neville, a Lichfield monumental mason. It stands in a shallow pool in keeping with the many biblical references to streams of living water. The water in the font flows from the top as from a spring and comes from Buxton, Derbyshire where it is drawn from a level that is over 2,000 years old. Thus the water in the font will have fallen as life-giving rain some 2,000 years ago. It is felt that this is an appropriate symbol of the message of the Millennium.

The Altar
The altar, pulpit and lectern were all carved by the inmates of Swinfen Hall Young Offenders Institute, just a few miles from the Arboretum. For this reason the altar has two texts, 'When I was in prison ye visited me' and 'What they doest in private thy Father will reward thee openly', carved upon it.

TreespaceThe altar cloth was commissioned by The Women's Section of The Royal British Legion with a design based on the theme taken from Revelations; 'The leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations' . This text appears on the lectern frontal and its theme continues on the pulpit frontal with the text 'And nation shall speak peace unto nation'. Both frontals are the work of Mrs Enid Newman, a member of the Trefoil Guild.

The Candlesticks
Raise up a living nation

These have been designed after an idea by Arboretum director David Childs. Each of the candlesticks is supported by six knives, mounted on a silver ring base and bound together by a silver ring of barbed wire representing a crown of thorns.

Three crosses hang on the wall behind the altar. The central one is the Sword of Sacrifice that is present at every Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery. The other two are made from dead elms. They represent the thieves' crosses, with one having both handcuffs open while the other is still struggling to be free.

The Two Minutes Silence
From the beginning it was felt that The Chapel should be the one place within the United Kingdom where the two minute Silence was observed every day of the year.

To achieve this, the Last Post and Reveille were recorded by the band of the Royal Marines and an introduction to the Silence made by the BBC News Reader, Peter Donaldson.

At 11 o'clock every day a light shines on the altar from the bearing and elevation of the sun at 11.00 am on the 11th November, Armistice Day. All those in The Chapel or amphitheatre at that time are invited to stop in silence and recall those who have lost their lives in conflict.

Other Pictures of the Chapel
Below is a list of other pictures of the chapel which you may like to see. Just click on the title to view them in a separate window.

  • Distance view of Chapel (1)
  • Distance view of Chapel (2)
  • An apostle
  • A third apostle
  • The Candlesticks
  • A close view of outside of Chapel
  • Another close view of outside of Chapel
  • Cross with handcuffs

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