The Cenotaph is a war memorial on Whitehall in London, England. Designed by Edwin Lutyens, the permanent structure was built from Portland stone between 1919 and 1920. Its origin is in a temporary structure erected for a peace parade following the end of the First World War. After an outpouring of national sentiment it was replaced in 1920 by a permanent structure.
About The Cenotaph in brief
The Cenotaph is a war memorial on Whitehall in London, England. Designed by Edwin Lutyens, the permanent structure was built from Portland stone between 1919 and 1920. Its origin is in a temporary structure erected for a peace parade following the end of the First World War. After an outpouring of national sentiment it was replaced in 1920 by a permanent structure and designated the United Kingdom’s official national war memorial. An annual Service of Remembrance is held at the site on Remembrance Sunday, the closest Sunday to 11 November each year. Lutyen’s cenotAPH design has been reproduced elsewhere in the UK and in other places of historical British allegiance including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Bermuda and Hong Kong. Over 1.1 million men from the British Empire were killed in the war. In its aftermath, thousands of war memorials were built across Britain and the Empire, and on the former battlefields. Amongst the most prominent designers of war Memorials was Sir Edwin Lutiesens, described by Historic England as ‘the foremost architect of his day’ The word ‘cenotaf’ derives from the Greek term ‘kenotaphion’, which means ‘burial place’ or ‘place where the dead are buried’. The word was used to refer to a garden seat that Lutyes designed for Gertrude Jekyll in the 1890s. The first commission for a memorial was the Rand Regiments Memorial in Johannesburg, South Africa, dedicated to casualties of the Second Boer War.
The end result lacks the subtlety of Whitehall’s monument, but introduces several design elements common in Lutyers’ subsequent memorials, including Whitehall. The prime minister, David Lloyd George, learnt that the French authorities’ plans for a saluting point for the marching troops in Paris included a similar similar structure for the British parade. The idea was to replicate a similar one at Whitehall, which Lloyd George emphasised that would serve a similar purpose at the British parade in Paris. It seems likely that one or both men discussed the idea for the Cenotsaph on the same day that it was sketched and sketched again to his chief architect at the Works Office, Sir Alfred Llewelyn Earle. In 1917, Lutyons travelled to France as an advisor to the fledgling IWGC and was horrified by the scale of destruction. He felt that neither realism nor expressionism could adequately capture the atmosphere at the end of the war. The experience influenced his later designs for war memorial and led him to the conclusion that a different form of architecture was required to properly memorialise the dead. He was already acting as an adviser to the Imperial War Graves Commission when he was commissioned for the cenOTAFH. He broke with the Ancient Greek convention, though, in that his designs for London’s and Southampton’d contained no explicit reference to battle.