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Photographer: Tim Skelton

Bancourt British Cemetery

Gazetteer No. G0663


Address Bancourt, Pas de Calais France


The village of Bancourt lies to the east of Bapaume. The original cemetery consisted of plot i, rows a and b, at the front of the cemetery. After the war, graves were transferred from the battlefield and from several cemeteries in the vicinity. Special memorials have been installed behind the Cross of Sacrifice and at the municipal cemetery on the other side of the access road.

The cemetery is a ‘classical’ Lutyens’ cemetery with the War Stone on the east side and the graves oriented toward the War Stone. The cemetery is similar to Bagneux British Cemetery or Warlincourt Halte British Cemetery, for example. The entrance pavilions are not situated next to the Stone as sentry boxes, but have been shifted a little toward the road, probably not to isolate the already existing graves of plot i, rows a and b, too much.

The architecture of the entrance buildings is typical of the work of Lutyens and Goldsmith. However, the combination of various design elements is unique. The stone roof, the combination of brick and white natural stone, and the entrance with the semicircular arch and the interrupted tympanum recur in various cemeteries. The positioning of two sentry pavilions opposite one another also recurs at other places. However, the transparent character of the buildings and the columns that stand on an ongoing plinth is fully unique. This transparent character did not allow a storage space to be incorporated into the two buildings. The pavilions are characteristic for the play of classical motifs of the Greek temple and the Roman arch of triumph.

There are no major differences in height but the slightly descending ground has been evened off at the roadside to enable a plateau with the War Stone, the pavilions, and the first graves. A few steps connect the plateau to the field with the graves. There is a double entrance that fits in with the layout of the cemetery. Instead of a central path between the War Stone and the Cross of Sacrifice, as was mostly applied, there are two paths that divide the field longitudinally into three sections of 20 graves. In comparison: Bagneux British Cemetery is broader and has four sections with 16 to 17 graves and a central path. In the breadth, cemetery is also divided into three sections of 12 rows, with an extra section at the end with 3 rows and the Cross, which is a mirror image of the plateau at the front.

The architectonic treatment of the tree structure rein- forces Lutyens’ idea of a green church or cathedral. At the end there are two pyramidal oaks as sentries flanking the Cross of Sacrifice and, on the long side in front of a low wall, there are yews as green pillars that support the divine vault of the green church area. This effect can also be seen in the Vaulx Hill Cemetery nearby. (Geurst, 2010, pp.205-6)


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

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Imperial War Graves Commission