On Remembrance Sunday (the closest Sunday to Armistice Day, 11th November), the Cenotaph in Whitehall is the site for the annual National Service of Remembrance. The war memorial itself is the perfect understated yet imposing structure to invoke a time of reflection as the nation remembers those that have suffered as a result of the world’s conflicts.
The name Cenotaph derives from the Greek term kenostaphos, meaning empty tomb. It began as a temporary structure erected for a peace parade following the end of the First World War but, following the public reaction, it was rebuilt as a permanent war memorial in 1920. It consists of a pylon that rises in a series of set-backs to the empty tomb on its summit and is undecorated apart from a carved wreath on each end and a smaller carved wreath on top. The design has been repeated for other war memorials across the UK and the rest of the world including Hong Kong, New Zealand and Canada.
The architect behind the design of the Cenotaph was Sir Edwin Lutyens. As well as designing the Cenotaph in Whitehall, he also designed the Thiepval Arch on the Somme and many other memorial and cemeteries for the Great War. Born in 1869, Lutyens is considered by some to be the nation’s greatest architect. Lutyens started work as an architect in his twentieth year, 1888, and as he worked persistently, with very little time for other interests, his output is enormous.
In honour of Lutyens’ dedication to supporting the season of remembrance, we thought it would be helpful to point people in the direction of a couple of peaceful walks that give some time for reflection and also provide an opportunity to enjoy some of Lutyens’ other architectural achievements.
If you’d like more ideas for tours of Lutyens buildings in Britain and abroad, visit The Lutyens Trust.
10 November 2013