DescriptionThe cemetery is an excellent example of the image that Lutyens pursued of a church or cathedral in the open air, with the open landscape as decor for the War Stone and Cross of Sacrifice. It lies to the south of the village of Écoust-Saint- Mein, on a higher field along a trunk road, and is clearly recognizable from a distance due to the tall poplars that surround it. The village of Écoust-Saint-Mein was capture by Australian soldiers on 2 April 1917. In the battle, almost the entire unit of the Second Honourable Artillery Company lost their lives.
The easy stairway parallel to the road, which leads to the middle of the entrance, is both characteristic and unique. Subsequently, a few steps lead to the central path of the cemetery. The War Stone lies just to the side of the path and, in the continuation of the War Stone, the Cross of Sacrifice has been placed in the corner alongside the road. The shelter stands on the west side of the cemetery at the end of the central path.
The building has a central loggia with three arches and two Tuscan columns. The space in the loggia contains two alcoves with a bench on the short side. Each arch is continued with barrel vaulting of stucco work in the portico. A cordon embraces the whole building just under the arches. The corners are symmetrical, with pilasters that extend to the cordon. In their structure, the short sides are related to the long side, but the central part is replaced by an access to the storage space. At the rear, which is clearly not intended as a side to be viewed, the central part is lower and plainly finished at the top. The cornice has a double frame and the roof bears red tiles. The building has been implemented in brick with white stone. The loggia is related to the entrance building of Anneux British Cemetery.
The cemetery is as good as level and lies on a high flat upland alongside the road. It is accessed via an easy stair, a solution that is somewhat similar to the situation at Mory Abbey Military Cemetery in nearby Mory, but due to its slight slope has become a unique elaboration of this theme. The low wall that surrounds the cemetery on three sides has been lowered at the front and functions as a retaining wall for the upland on which the cemetery lies. In its entirety, the easy stairway forms the entrance to the cemetery and lies parallel to the lateral axis with the War Stone and the Cross of Sacrifice. Due to the turn in the stairway, the visitor is directly facing the graves when at the top of the stairs.
On the north side, the irregularity of the otherwise almost regular rectangular cemetery is striking. A number of graves have been added in a triangular part, and due to the rotation of the headstones they have become recognizable as an addition. The deviating brickwork in this part of the wall around the cemetery confirms that it involves a later supplement. In the rectangular part, there are 200 graves in the right-hand section at the front that belong to the original cemetery constructed during the war. These graves are oriented toward the east. The rest of the cemetery was constructed to join up with this part, and contains two central paths of which the left one ends at the shelter. The War Stone stands on the east side between the two central paths, adjoining the main path, but nevertheless in the middle of the field, although the shelter apparently stands in the middle. Lutyens also applied this shifted symmetrical composition at Hangard Communal Cemetery Extension. The Cross of Sacrifice stands next to the War Stone at the end of a lateral axis that commences at the main stairway.
The cemetery is surrounded on three sides by a total of twenty Lombardy poplars, and thus acquires a dignified appearance. The trees manifest themselves as green pillars that support the vault of heaven. (Geurst, 2010, pp.312-4)
BibliographyGeurst, J. (2010) Cemeteries of the Great War by Sir Edwin Lutyens. Rotterdam: 010 Publishers.
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Listing GradeComing soon
ClientImperial War Graves Commission