Spot where British foreign secretary spent night before Great War declared still remembered

The River Itchen north of Winchester

The River Itchen north of Winchester

First published in Winchester
Last updated

THE GENTLE meanderings of the River Itchen between Alresford and Winchester is possibly as soothing a place for an anguished soul as it’s possible to find.

Understandable then that British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey found solace fishing there as diplomatic dialogue hardened in run up to the outbreak of the Great War a century ago.

Grey is most famous for foretelling the dreadful fate that awaited a splintered Europe on the evening of August 3 1914, telling a companion: “The lamps are going out all over Europe. We shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.”

He then spent the night that war was declared at his fishing bothy by the Itchen.

Cognisant of his relative’s contribution to this country at a pivotal moment in its history, great nephew Adrian Graves still retraces Grey’s footsteps every year to mark the early August anniversary by the riverbank.

And this year, he and his siblings will also attend tonight’s candle-lit vigil at Westminster Abbey, marking the exact moment war was declared.

Rightly ensuring once again that the deaths of 17 million soldiers and civilians across Europe between 1914 and 1918 never slips down the national agenda.

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