DescriptionThe cemetery lies on the road east of Hangard village on elevated ground amid arable land, adjoining the municipal graveyard. The original extension of the municipal grave- yard was constructed by the Canadian army in August 1918 and consisted of 51 graves in plot i. After the war, the cemetery was greatly extended with solitary graves from the battlefield and from smaller cemeteries.
What makes the cemetery particularly remarkable is the beautiful monumental stairway that leads the visitor in different stages to the higher field with graves. The cemetery has its own entrance and is visible from a distance, because the Cross of Sacrifice has been placed in a high position by the road, at the top of the stairway. This stairway has two intermediate balconies where the stairway changes direction, thus making the climb to the spot a significant event. The route begins at a bench that is a continuation of the third step, then via the first balcony and a transverse stair- way to the cupboard with the register. Subsequently the stairway winds into the direction of the cemetery again and ends in the section of natural stone close to the Cross of Sacrifice. The route is continued along a grassy path between the graves and ends at a plaque just in front of the low wall that borders the cemetery on two sides. Goldsmith used the continuing step, ending in a seat, in various cemeteries, such as Tigris Lane Cemetery and Landrecies British Cemetery.
The stairway and retaining walls have been realized with grey-brown stone rubble with white coping slabs that are used as step, seat and covering at the same time. The high retaining wall by the road is also found in Adelaide Cemetery and Mory Abbey Military Cemetery, and in brick at Sunken Road Cemetery. The stairway construction as a whole forms the entrance to the cemetery and is part of the entry ritual, preparing the visitor for the visit to a deceased relative. Similar to other cemeteries by Lutyens with identical stairways on the road, it has been decided to place the Cross of Sacrifice directly in front, so that it is clear from the start that one is going to a cemetery, something one might have missed altogether without the Cross of Sacrifice.
The ground is rectangular and rises slightly from the side of the road. The graves face southward, in the direction of Cross of Sacrifice. It is a striking aspect that in this cemetery with 576 graves no War Stone has been placed, although 500 graves was usually regarded as the critical number for placing a memorial stone. There are a number of smaller cemeteries with fewer than 500 graves that do have a stone, such as Fouquières Churchyard Extension with 388 graves and Delsaux Farm Cemetery with 495 graves. A low storage space of natural stone has been incorporated in the low wall, beside a passage, on the side of the municipal cemetery.
It is interesting indeed to see how Lutyens plays with shifting symmetries, an aspect that he had mastered when designing numerous stately homes in the English country- side. The central path is the axis of symmetry of the cemetery, linking up with the stairway. The shift from the axis of the Cross of Sacrifice is therefore highly unusual, although the two flower boxes on either side disguise this shift from the middle of the cemetery to some extent. The ground plan of the cemetery shows how plot i, which was established at an earlier stage, has been subtly incorporated in the new arrangement. A similar axis shift is visible in H.A.C. Cemetery.
Ten whitebeams occupy two sides of the cemetery. There is lavender on either side of the central path and the bank along the road is grown over with a ground-covering shrub. Without Lutyens, Goldsmith also designed the nearby Hangard Wood British Cemetery. (Geurst, 2010, p.318-20)
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