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Auchonvillers Military Cemetery design


Gazetteer No. G0660


Address Auchonvillers, Somme France


The cemetery, as realized, was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield with Cowlishaw as his assistant. Lutyens had already created a design in October 1917 for this relatively small cemetery. The design gives a good picture of the first ambitions of the architects, which were later dimmed down due to the costs. The design consisted of a forecourt with a colonnade around a central basin with water, with the War Stone on one side and a square shelter of brick and natural stone in the style typical of Lutyens in his later-realized cemeteries. Adjoining the War Stone, there stood two pillar-like oaks and there were four lime trees around the shelter building. The axis from the entrance is framed at the end of the cemetery by two pyramidal oaks. The entrance consisted of two gate pillars that recur at several places in the design. The combination of the water basin, with pillars linked by architraves around it, calls to mind Villa Hadriana in Tivoli near Rome.

The cemetery was surrounded by a hedge and a wall covered with roses. At some places, groups of roses stood between the headstones. The Cross of Sacrifice had not yet been included in the design because a compromise was still being reached about it. Jekyll’s scheme for the plants and greenery shows an abundant growth of borders with lavender, weigelia, holly and roses against a background of birches and cypresses that had been envisioned around the cemetery.

After three experimental cemeteries had been realized, all three under the responsibility of Blomfield, the ambitions were reduced. In principle, smaller cemeteries would no longer have buildings and a War Stone. Walls and hedges around cemeteries would be kept low in order to reduce costs and to increase the visibility of the cemetery.

This ambitious design by Lutyens was not implemented and, in the realized cemetery, where most graves already lay that February, nothing of Lutyens’ design can be seen. (Geurst, 2010, p.201)


Geurst, J. (2010) Cemeteries of the Great War by Sir Edwin Lutyens. Rotterdam: 010 Publishers.

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Listing Grade


Listing Reference


Imperial War Graves Commission