DescriptionAfter the cemetery in Étaples, this is the largest cemetery designed by Lutyens. It contains more than seven thousand graves. The cemetery was begun as a small battlefield cemetery and was substantially extended after the Armistice. The original cemetery is clearly recognizable in the middle of the field with graves, due to the deviation of several plots. The design was elaborated in 1928 by assistant architect Rew who, after Goldsmith’s departure, became Lutyens’ right-hand man at the IWGC. A year earlier, he designed Sanctuary Wood Cemetery.
The cemetery is surrounded by cornfields on a piece of land sloping eastward and upward from the road. The cemetery is recognizable by the great lime trees that sur- round the area. A horizontal plateau with a gatehouse has been created on the roadside. The plateau lies three steps higher than the road, and the steps have been cut out in a natural stone strip that leads to the gatehouse. The gate- house displays great similarities with the gatehouses at Brown’s Copse Cemetery and Grévillers British Cemetery, although the latter is a variant in brick. The gatehouse con- sists of two shelters that are linked by a portal. Assistant architect Rew himself designed a comparable building a little distance away at Serre Road Cemetery No. 1 in Hébuterne. In contrast to Brown’s Copse Cemetery, aediculae have been added on the outside, partly to create closed alcoves. On the inside columns have been added in the corners. These principles have been further elaborated in the two pavilions of Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery.
The War Stone is not situated on the east side of the cemetery but in the middle, as at Sanctuary Wood Cemetery, and the Cross of Sacrifice is at the rear of the cemetery although it is on the east side. It may well be that Lutyens thought the east side to be too far away from the entrance and suspected that the War Stone would not be visible behind the headstones of the old cemetery. Usually he situated the Cross behind the Stone because this produced a more attractive perspective. Due to the field with the original graves he could not extend the central path, and he placed the War Stone in front of the existing graves on a broad terrace with a wide staircase. At a little distance from the terrace there is a row with small red-leafed trees, which contrast beautifully with the white headstones.
Parallel to the central axis, two wide paths extend toward the two shelters that have been erected on either side of the Cross of Sacrifice. The shelters resemble those at Hooge Crater Cemetery, but these are built completely of white stone. They are a fusion between a temple and a classical arch of triumph, based on Roman tetrapylons. The roofs are also made of natural stone and have a concealed gutter. Surprisingly, flint has been applied in a block bond as decoration on the inside, calling to mind the loggia at Marsh Court. The buildings are connected by a wall in the form of almost a quarter of the circle, with the Cross of Sacrifice in front of it, so that an apse-like space has been created. Plants have been laid out in front of the wall. From the pavilion plateau, there is a splendid panorama of the landscape over the descending ground and the gatehouse. (Geurst, 2010, pp.408-9)
BibliographyGeurst, J. (2010) Cemeteries of the Great War by Sir Edwin Lutyens. Rotterdam: 010 Publishers.
Also Cited InButler, A., 1950. The architecture of Sir Edwin Lutyens: the Lutyens memorial series. Vol III: Town and Public Buildings: Memorials: The Metropolitan Cathedral, Liverpool, Country Life: London and Scibners: New York.
Listing GradeComing soon
ClientImperial War Graves Commission