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Photographer: Tim Skelton

Chauny Communal Cemetery British Extension

Gazetteer No. G0683


Address Chauny, Aisne France


This exceptionally fine cemetery forms one of the highlights of Lutyens’ work for the CWGC in France. The cemetery was constructed after the Armistice and lies on a gently sloping piece of ground in a large complex of cemeteries in the built-up area of Chauny. Besides the British cemetery there are also fields with French and German graves and a French memorial. The whole unit lies in the middle of a large communal cemetery.

The entrance to the British part lies at the rear of the complex and consists of a low wall of white natural stone that encompasses a semicircular forecourt. The visitor enters via a higher part of an elongated platform with the Cross of Sacrifice and the War Stone. The Cross of Sacrifice has been included in a stairway with several steps. The horizontal plane with the War Stone is situated a little lower and is accessible via two steps that are mirrored at the bench at the end of the axis. The frames of natural stone form a splendid setting in which all the architectonic elements have their place. The former borderwalk continues onward after the Stone to a stone seat, which has been incorporated between two storage spaces embedded in the platform.

The War Stone stands in front of the two shelters rather than between them. The pavilion-shaped shelters are linked by a wall. Lutyens applied this solution on only one other occasion, in Noeux-les-Mines. The architecture of the pavilions is relatively sober with a heavy cornice, corner piers and double pillars at the entrance. The yellow brick deviates from the common red colour that Lutyens usually applied. In their structure, the pavilions resemble the shelter at Aix-Noulette Communal Cemetery & Extension, which was also elaborated by assistant architect Hutton. It tends to radiate the spirit of Baker and Blomfield, for whom Hutton often worked, rather than of Lutyens.

The War Stone stands on the east side of the field with graves, and these graves are oriented toward the Stone. From the entrance, the field with graves slopes downward and is connected to the platform at three places – at the Cross of Sacrifice and in front of the two pavilions with unequal stairways. A second field with French graves and a memorial is situated beyond the seat. The cemetery is surrounded by a low wall with a side entrance to the general cemetery. Perhaps the most impressive feature is the presence of large bean trees (catalpa), which grow round the cemetery and, with their irregular branches and enormous leaves, largely determine the ambience of the location. (Geurst, 2010, pp.241-2)


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

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Imperial War Graves Commission