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Photographer: Candia Lutyens

Croisilles British Cemetery

Gazetteer No. G0690


Address Croisilles, Pas de Calais France


The cemetery lies just outside the village of Croisilles along a disused railway line. The old railway line is now a hiking route that leads along various cemeteries.

The monumentality of the cemetery is immediately evident. A shelter that calls to mind a temple is situated on a high platform with the War Stone directly opposite. The platform is connected to the field with graves via an interesting routing with various perspectives involving five different steps and intermediate plateaux. The front part of the cemetery is occupied by the original cemetery with practically unbroken rows of graves. Moving to the rear part with graves dating from after the Armistice, the visitor is led along a wall with a monumental bench before arriving at the field. Looking back from the field with graves, the platform with the shelter makes an even more imposing impression than on arrival, and calls to mind a temple from Classical Antiquity.

Just like the layout of the cemetery, the architecture of the shelter is exceptional in Lutyens’ work. Here, the reference to a temple is emphasized to a greater extent than in other buildings. Pilasters have been introduced around the building, bearing an architrave, with three blind walls in between. Two pillars mark the entrance at the front. The space inside contains four columns with an alcove with a bench on one side and a vista through a gateway with barrel vaulting toward the cemetery on the other. The pilasters on the outside continue on into the interior, so that in fact four corner volumes are generated behind the pilasters. In comparison to the gateway building at Brown’s Copse Cemetery, there is mention of a building that comprises two gateway buildings linked here via a hipped roof with pillars. As described in the section on Brown’s Copse cemetery, each gateway building comprises two interconnected shelters. This is especially evident from the cemetery. The entire unit has been implemented in beige natural stone, so that all the subtle reliefs are splendidly clear.

The difference between the shelter and the field with headstones is 32 steps, around 4 metres. Adjacent to this, the road ascends reasonably steeply and the various levels are attuned to and derived from this. The field with graves slopes in the same direction as the road, but lies somewhat lower. The cemetery is encompassed by a stone wall into which a storage space has been incorporated. The storage space is identical to that at Brown’s Copse Cemetery in Roeux, which lies more northerly. The wall runs alongside the road, with jumps in height according to the lie of the land, and functions as both a simple wall and an earth- retaining wall for the platform.

The entrance lies on the roadside, along the central axis of the cemetery, and provides an immediate overview of the entire cemetery. The entrance dissects the 75 cm high platform, as it were, which extends at the same height as the earth-retaining wall on the other side. There are four posts at the entrance. The layout of the cemetery is symmetrical in principle, but due to the substantial differences in height and the deviating routing, the two lateral axes with the shelter and long bench have become dominant. A sense of symmetry can only be obtained in the rear part of the cemetery. The War Stone is situated up high on a platform on the east side adjoining the main axis and the Cross is a good distance further up, on the other side, although on the central axis. The headstones are oriented toward the Cross of Sacrifice.

The cemetery is surrounded by ten large lime trees and there is a birch next to the shelter alongside the road. In order to break the length, backborders have been laid out at two places behind the headstones. (Geurst, 2010. pp.255-6)


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

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Imperial War Graves Commission