Candles lit to mark the start of the First World War yesterday will be extinguished at 11pm tonight – the exact time the war broke out exactly a century ago.

More than 250 people attended a civic service of commemoration and reconciliation at St John the Baptist Church, in Chipping Barnet, to mark the declaration of the Great War.

Representatives of Barnet’s twin towns Siegen-Wittgenstein and Tempelhof-Schonberg in Germany, and Le Raincy, in France, also attended the service.

Both the French and German national anthems were played at the close of the service, before a rendition of the British national anthem.

The service included a ceremonial page turning of the Barnet Urban District Council Book of Remembrance by UK and German representatives, who lit the candles.

Readings were given by the Representative Deputy Lieutenant for Barnet, Martin Russell, and Mayor of Barnet Cllr Hugh Rayner, as well as the Venerable Dr Trevor Jones, Archdeacon of Hertford.

Deputy Lieutenant Russell said: “The presence of representatives of twinned towns in France and Germany was a powerful symbol of more recent efforts at reconciliation, and has served to reinvigorate mutual ties.

“Tens of thousands of Barnet people were involved in the Great War, and local interest seems to be undimmed.”

Cllr Rayner said: “I felt honoured to be involved in this moving service to mark the commemoration of the declaration of the war.

“I was delighted to see so many representatives from all branches of the community, both young and old, and the presence of our visitors from Germany and France who reinforced just how far we have come from those dark days in August 1914.”

The next event in Barnet to mark the declaration of the Great War is the unveiling of a commemorative paving stone to Private John Parr, who lived in Lodge Lane, Finchley.

His death near Mons in Belgium is widely recognised as the first Allied fatality of the war, but the circumstances surrounding it remain a mystery.