Farnham marks centenary of two-minute silence

Farnham remembrance parade Image copyright Museum of Farnham
Image caption Marching bands led a procession through the town

A town has paused to remember what it claims was the world's first two-minute silence, 100 years earlier.

The commemoration was held at the site of the original event in Castle Street, Farnham, Surrey, on 1 May 1916.

A document found in the National Archives shows it was the first place to commemorate Britain's war dead with a two-minute silence.

Three years later, the nation held a two-minute silence on 11 November for the first anniversary of Armistice Day.

The centenary was marked by a procession through the town led by marching bands from the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment and Farnham Sea Cadets.

Following a short ceremony, a two-minute silence was held at 11:00 BST, followed by a May Day fair during the afternoon.

Image copyright Farnham Town Crier
Image caption The commemoration was held at the site of the original event, in Castle Street, Farnham

The discovery of the archived document was made by Farnham Maltings.

It revealed that on May Day in 1916 a group of local farmers held an agricultural jumble sale and general fair to raise funds for the Red Cross.

However, they were asked if it was appropriate to hold the event at the height of World War I, and a programme for the event included a two-minute silence "as a token of respect to the memory of those who have fallen in the war, to the wounded, to the prisoners and to those who are fighting for their country".

An exhibition celebrating the event through stories from Farnham's past, and the experiences of local men and women who served in World War I, is being held at the Museum of Farnham until 29 October.

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