THE CENOTAPH is a war memorial on
Whitehall in London, England. Its
origin is in a temporary structure erected for a peace parade
following the end of the First World War and 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.
Edwin Lutyens , the permanent structure was built from
Portland stone between 1919 and 1920 by Holland, Hannen "> Paris
Victory Parade of 14 July 1919 and the temporary catafalque (right) by
Arc de Triomphe
Arc de Triomphe (left).
The first cenotaph was a wood-and-plaster structure designed by Sir
Edwin Lutyens and erected in 1919. It was one of a number of
temporary structures erected for the
London Victory Parade (also
called the Peace Day Parade) on 19 July 1919. It marked the formal end
of the First World War that had taken place with the signing of the
Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles on 28 June 1919. As one of a series of
temporary wooden monuments constructed along the route of the parade,
Whitehall's was not proposed until two weeks before the event.
Following deliberations by the Peace Celebrations Committee, Lutyens
was invited to
Downing Street . There, the British Prime Minister,
David Lloyd George
David Lloyd George , proposed that the monument should be a catafalque
, like the one intended for the
Arc de Triomphe
Arc de Triomphe in Paris for the
corresponding Victory Parade in France, but Lutyens proposed instead
that the design be based on a cenotaph .
The temporary wood-and-plaster structure had the same shape as the
later permanent stone structure, and consisted of a pylon that rose in
a series of set-backs to the empty tomb (cenotaph) on its summit. The
wreaths at each end and on top were made from laurel rather than the
later carved stone sculptures. The location chosen along the parade
Whitehall was between the Foreign Office and Richmond
House . The unveiling (described in The Times as 'quiet' and
'unofficial') took place the day before the Victory Parade. During the
parade, those saluting the temporary cenotaph included the allied
John Pershing ,
Ferdinand Foch ,
Douglas Haig and David
Beatty . For some time after the parade, the base of the memorial was
covered with flowers and wreaths by members of the public. Pressure
mounted to retain it, and the British
War Cabinet decided on 30 July
1919 that a permanent memorial should replace the wooden version and
be designated Britain's official national war memorial. The
announcement was made on 23 October 1919 that the Portland stone
version would be a "replica exact in every detail in permanent
material of present temporary structure".
Lutyens had first heard the term "cenotaph" in connection with
Munstead Wood , the house he designed for
Gertrude Jekyll in the
1890s. He designed a garden bench seat there, consisting of a large
rectangular block of elm set on stone, which acquired the name
Cenotaph of Sigismunda" at the suggestion of their friend Charles
Liddell, a librarian at the
British Museum .
Cenotaph was constructed from
Portland stone between 1919
and 1920 by Holland, Hannen and 1919 – MCMXIX). The wreaths at each
end are 5 feet (1.5 m) in diameter, while the one on top is 3.6 feet
(1.1 m) in diameter.
Its sides are not parallel, but if extended would meet at a point
about 300 metres (980 ft) above the ground. Similarly, the
"horizontal" surfaces are sections of a sphere whose centre would be
900 feet (270 m) below ground. This element of the design, called
entasis , was not present in the temporary structure and was added by
Lutyens as a refinement when designing the permanent structure. It is
35 feet (11 m) tall and weighs 120 tonnes (120,000 kg).
The architects waived their fee for designing the cenotaph, meaning
that it cost £7,325 to build, a sum equivalent to £255,332 when
adjusted by inflation in 2010. Construction began on 19 January
1920, and the original flags were sent to the
Imperial War Museum
Imperial War Museum .
The unveiling ceremony on 11 November 1920.
The memorial was unveiled by King
George V on 11 November 1920, the
second anniversary of the
Armistice with Germany which ended the First
World War . It was decided not to dedicate the memorial, as not all
the dead it commemorates are
Christian . The unveiling ceremony was
part of a larger procession bringing the Unknown Warrior to be laid to
rest in his tomb nearby in
Westminster Abbey . The funeral procession
route passed the Cenotaph, where the waiting King laid a wreath on the
Unknown Warrior's gun-carriage before proceeding to unveil the
memorial which was draped in large Union Flags .
White Ensign ,
Union Flag , and
Blue Ensign on the Cenotaph.
Cenotaph is flanked on each side by flags of the United Kingdom
which Lutyens had wanted to be carved in stone. Although he was
overruled and cloth flags were used, his
Rochdale cenotaph (unveiled
26 November 1922) has stone flags. In the years following 1919, the
Cenotaph displayed a
Union Flag , a
White Ensign and a
Red Ensign on
one side and a Union Flag, a White Ensign, and a
Blue Ensign on the
other side. On 1 April 1943, an
RAF Ensign was substituted for the
White Ensign on the west side. The flags displayed as of 2007
Royal Navy , the
British Army , the
Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force and
the Merchant Navy . The
Blue Ensign represents the Royal Naval Reserve
Royal Fleet Auxiliary , and other government services; it is
possible that it was also intended to represent
Initially the flags were changed for cleaning every six to eight
weeks, but between 1922 and 1923 the practice gradually stopped until
letters to the media led to its reintroduction. The initial lifespan
of a flag was set at five periods of three months. By 1939, they were
changed ten times a year, each flag washed twice before being disposed
of. By 1924, it was decided that all discarded flags would be sent to
Imperial War Museum
Imperial War Museum who could redistribute them to properly
Whitehall, along with other areas of London, was the scene of
celebrations on 8 May 1945 when victory in Europe was declared in the
Second World War
Second World War . More formal processions past the
place during the
London Victory Celebrations on 8 June 1946. The
Cenotaph had been designed to commemorate the
British Empire military
dead of the First World War, but this was later extended to include
those that died in the Second World War. The dates of the Second World
War were added in Roman numerals on the sides of the memorial
(1939—MCMXXXIX; and 1945—MCMXLV), and the memorial was unveiled
for a second time on Sunday 10 November 1946 by King George VI . The
memorial is now also used to remember the dead of later wars in which
British servicemen and servicewomen have fought. The
designated a Grade I listed building on 5 February 1970.
Wreaths being laid at the
Cenotaph during the Remembrance Sunday
service in 2010.
Cenotaph is the site of the annual National Service of
Remembrance held at 11:00 am on
Remembrance Sunday , the closest
Sunday to 11 November (
Armistice Day ). From 1919 until 1945, the
remembrance service was held on Armistice Day, but since 1945 it has
been held on Remembrance Sunday. Uniformed service personnel
(excluding fire and ambulance personnel) salute the
Cenotaph as they
Armistice Day ceremony fell away during the Second World
War, in recent years the tradition of holding a ceremony at the
Cenotaph at 11am on 11 November has been reinstated by The Western
Front Association , a UK-based charity dedicated to perpetuating the
memory of those who served in the First World War.
The first such modern ceremony was held on 11 November 1919,
following a suggestion by King
George V for a two-minute silence
across the United Kingdom and a ceremony to take place in London.
Thousands had gathered around the wood-and-plaster
Whitehall, where Prime Minister
David Lloyd George
David Lloyd George walked from Downing
Street to place a wreath. A wreath was also laid by a representative
French President , and soldiers and sailors provided a guard of
honour . There were also processions past the
Cenotaph organised by
Annual remembrance services also take place at the
Cenotaph on other
days of the year. These include the regimental parade held by the
Royal Tank Regiment
Royal Tank Regiment on the Sunday following Remembrance Sunday. This
is the closest to Cambrai Day (20 November), the anniversary of the
Battle of Cambrai that was one of the earliest deployments of British
tanks. An annual parade and service is also held by the Combined
Irish Regiments Association to commemorate the war dead of the Irish
regiments that were disbanded on 12 June 1922 after the First World
War. This parade is now held on the Sunday in June that follows the
Queen's Birthday Parade. The Belgian Parade at the
Cenotaph has taken
place yearly since 1934 on the Sunday preceding the Belgian National
Day (21 July). Belgium is the only nation that is allowed to parade
its troops in uniform and carrying arms in central London.
Remembrance Day parade, at the Cenotaph
in the City of Hamilton ,
Bermuda , 1990.
Lutyens' first cenotaph design was for The Cenotaph, Southampton
(unveiled 6 November 1920). The temporary
(unofficial unveiling on 18 July 1919) was followed by the permanent
Cenotaph (unveiled 11 November 1920). Lutyens' Whitehall
Cenotaph design was used in the construction of other war memorials in
the UK and in the British Empire. Two smaller versions that included
several additions and differences were built as regimental memorials,
the Queen\'s Own Royal West Kent Regiment
Cenotaph in Maidstone, Kent,
Royal Berkshire Regiment War Memorial in Reading, Berkshire.
These were unveiled on 30 July 1921 and 13 September 1921
respectively. The Midland Railway War Memorial , Derby, was unveiled
on 15 December 1921. The Middlesbrough cenotaph , derived from
Lutyens' design, was unveiled on 11 November 1922. The Rochdale
Cenotaph was unveiled on 26 November 1922. The Hong Kong cenotaph , an
almost exact replica, was unveiled in 1923 between the Statue Square
and the City Hall in Hong Kong. The Manchester
Manchester, England (also the work of Lutyens), was unveiled on 12
July 1924 and has similarities and differences. The Welch Regimental
War Memorial , in the form of a Lutyens 'Whitehall' cenotaph, was
Maindy Barracks , Cardiff, on 11 November 1924. The
Cenotaph was unveiled on 11 November 1925 and is modelled on
Whitehall's design. A two-thirds scale copy was unveiled in Hamilton ,
Bermuda, on 6 May 1925. A close copy of the
unveiled in November 1929 in
Auckland , New Zealand. An exact replica
London, Ontario , Canada, and was unveiled on 11 November
REPLICA OR SIMILAR CENOTAPHS
Cenotaph , Hong Kong
Cenotaph , New Zealand
London, Ontario , Canada
OTHER CENOTAPH DESIGNS BY LUTYENS IN THE UK
Queen\'s Own Royal West Kent Regiment
Cenotaph , Maidstone
Midland Railway War Memorial , Derby
Welch Regimental War Memorial at
Maindy Barracks ,
* Grade I listed buildings in the
City of Westminster
City of Westminster
Grade I listed war memorials in England
World War I
World War I memorials
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Whitehall Cenotaph". MSN Encarta. Microsoft Corporation.
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* ^ "
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* ^ Regimental Day, The
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* ^ The history of the Association, Combined Irish Regiments Old
Comrades Association, accessed 5 October 2011
* ^ The history of the Association – today, Combined Irish
Regiments Old Comrades Association, accessed 5 October 2011
* ^ "80th Belgian
Cenotaph Parade". Retrieved 1 February 2017.
Historic England . "The Queen\'s Own Royal West Kent Regiment
National Heritage List for England . Retrieved 6
Historic England . "The Royal Berkshire Regiment Cenotaph
National Heritage List for England . Retrieved 6 August
* ^ Pevsner, Nikolaus (1966). Yorkshire: The North Riding. p. 252.
* ^ "North Yorkshire War Memorials – Middlesbrough". The
Yorkshire Regiment – First World War Remembrance. Retrieved 3
* ^ "Brief Information on Proposed Grade 1 Items" (PDF). Leisure
and Cultural Services Department, Hong Kong. Retrieved 3 July 2011.
* 'The Story of the Cenotaph' by Eric Homberger, in The Times
Literary Supplement, 12 November 1976