Treasures of London – Australian War Memorial…


Tomorrow is the 25th April – commemorated every year as Anzac Day in Australia in memory of that country’s soldiers who lost their lives. This year marks 100 years since Australian troops first landed at Gallipoli during World War I. 

While attention will be focused on Anzac Cove in modern Turkey and the Australian war memorials on what was the Western Front in western Europe, in London there will be several events including a wreath laying ceremony at The Cenotaph in Whitehall, a commemoration and thanksgiving service in Westminster Abbey and a dawn service held at the Australian War Memorial in Hyde Park Corner.

This last memorial, dedicated to the more than 100,000 Australians who died in both world wars, was unveiled on Armistice Day, 2003, in the presence of Queen Elizabeth II, then-Australian PM John Howard and then British PM Tony Blair.

It records the 23,844 names of town where Australians who served in World War I and II were born.

Superimposed over the top are 47 of the major battles they fought. Principal architect Peter Tonkin said the somewhat curvaceous design of the memorial, made of grey-green granite slabs, “reflects the sweep of Australian landscape, the breadth and generosity of our people, the openness that we believe should characterise our culture”.

For more on the wall – including the ability to search for town names – see

Famous Londoners – Sir Edwin Lutyens…

We’re looking at some of London’s World War I memorials so it’s only fitting we look at the life of acclaimed architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, the man credited with designing the Cenotaph – the UK’s national war memorial – in Whitehall (pictured below).

Lutyens was born in London at 16 Onslow Square, South Kensington, on 29th March, 1869, and – the ninth son and 10th of 13 children of soldier Captain Charles Lutyens and his wife Mary – was named for painter and sculptor Edwin Henry Landseer, a friend of his father’s. He grew up in London and Surrey and in 1885 commenced studying architecture at the South Kensington School of Art. In 1887, he left before completing the course, briefly joining the practice of Ernest George and Harold Peto before starting his own practice in 1889.

Cenotaph-in-LondonEarly commissions included country houses and it was during this period that he met with mentor and landscape gardener Gertrude Jekyll, a relationship which led him to design her home, Munstead Wood near Godalming in Surrey.

In 1897, Lutyens, known familiarly as ‘Ned’, married Emily Lytton – daughter of the late Viceroy of India and first earl of Lytton, Edward Buller-Lytton – and by 1908 the couple had five children. The family’s London addresses included 29 Bloomsbury Square (which also served as his office), 31 Bedford Square and 13 Mansfield Street, Marylebone, while his offices were located in numerous places including at 17 Queen Anne’s Gate.

Lutyens continued designing country houses – he eventually designed more than 35 major properties and altered and added many more – and among his commissions were Castle Drogo in Devon and the refurbishment of Northumberland’s spectacularly sited Lindisfarne Castle – both now National Trust properties. He was also involved in helping to plan and design Hampstead Garden Suburb in London, work which included designing two churches.

In 1912, Lutyens was invited to advise on the planning of the new Indian capital in New Delhi and his most important contribution was the design of the Viceroy’s House which combined elements of classical architecture with traditional Indian decoration. He was knighted in 1918 for his contributions in India and for his advice to the Imperial War Graves Commission.

It was his role in this latter effort which led to his becoming a national figure. He was involved in the creation of numerous monuments to commemorate the war dead, the best known of which are the Cenotaph in Whitehall – initially commissioned as a temporary structure (see our earlier post here) –  and the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme in Thiepval in northern France as well as the Australian War Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux and the Anglo-Boer War Memorial in Johannesburg.

He also designed more than 100 war cemeteries in France and Belgium and other war memorials – including overseas in places like Dublin – as well as London’s Tower Hill Memorial (see our earlier post here). Other London buildings he designed included the headquarters of Country Life magazine in Tavistock Street, Britannic House in Finsbury Square, the head office of the Midland Bank in Poultry and the Reuters and Press Association headquarters at 85 Fleet Street (now home to the Lutyens Restaurant, Bar and Private Rooms).

Lutyens was elected a fellow of the Royal Academy in 1920 (he was later president) and in 1924 was appointed a founding member of the Royal Fine Arts Commission. Even as he continued work in Delhi, he took on other commissions – such as the British Embassy in Washington, DC – and in 1924 he completed one of his most lauded – and smallest – designs: that of the one twelfth scale Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House which was shown at the 1924 British Empire Exhibition at Wembley and which can still be seen at Windsor Castle.

In 1929 Lutyens was commissioned to design a new Roman Catholic Cathedral for Liverpool but when he died on 1st January, 1944, this work was still unfinished with only the crypt completed thanks to the outbreak of World War II broke. Lutyens’ funeral was held in Westminster Abbey a few days later and his ashes were subsequently placed in the crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral.

For more information on Lutyens’ life and works, check out The Lutyens Trust, founded in 1984 to preserve and protect his legacy.

Remembrance Day

It’s Remembrance Day and all across the UK – and around the world – people are pausing to reflect on those who gave their lives fighting for their country. While the main events related to the day – the laying of wreaths at the Cenotaph and a parade – takes place on Remembrance Sunday, we’re marking the day today with a list of 10 of London’s World War I and II-related war memorials.

This list is by no means comprehensive – there are scores of other memorials in London which relate to the two world wars – but we’d welcome your comments of any others you think we should mention. Lest We Forget…

1. The Cenotaph – The most famous of London’s war memorials (pictured right), this simply designed – almost plain – monument stands in the middle of Whitehall and was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens to commemorate the dead of World War I. It is here that the Queen and other dignitaries lay wreaths on Remembrance Sunday in remembrance of the war dead of both world wars.

2. The Monument to the Women of World War II – Located just along from the Cenotaph, this much criticised memorial marks the role more than seven million women played during World War II. Unveiled in 2005, the memorial was designed by John W. Mills and depicts a series of coats worn by women during the war hanging as though on pegs.

3. The Tower Hill Memorial – This memorial, which was originally unveiled in 1928 and then added to after World War II, commemorates the men and women of the merchant navy and fishing fleets who were killed in either world war and have no known grave. It lists more than 36,000 names. For more information, see

4. The Battle of Britain Monument – Located on the north bank of the Thames at Victoria Embankment, this monument pays tribute to those who took part in the Battle of Britain during World War II. Sculpted by Paul Day, it features scenes from the battle in high relief bronze with virtually life-sized statues of airmen scrambling to their aircraft at its centre. Unveiled on 18th September, 2005, the 65th anniversary of the battle. For more information, see

5. The National Firefighters Memorial – Marking the role played by firefighters during the Blitz of London in World War II (as well as the role of firefighters generally), the memorial (pictured right) was designed by John Mills and features the “Blitz” statue – two life-sized firefighters and an officer cast in bronze – standing atop a plinth. First unveiled in by Queen Elizabeth II in 1991, it originally featured the names of 997 men and women who died during the Blitz inscribed upon it but this was extended to include firefighters who have died in peacetime and an additional 1192 names were added prior to a rededication in 2003. Located just south of St Paul’s on the main route to the Millennium Bridge, it is the focus of the annual Firefighters Day of Remembrance held each September. For more information, see

6. The Animals in War Memorial – Commemorating all the animals that died alongside British, Commonwealth and Allied forces during the wars and conflicts of the 20th century, this unusual monument at Brook Gate in Park Lane was unveiled in 2004. The sculptures include two mules, a horse and a dog all cast in bronze while other animals are depicted in bas-relief on a wall of Portland stone. For more information, see

7. Canada Memorial – Located in Green Park (just inside Canada Gate), the memorial, designed by Quebec artist Pierre Granche, honors the more than 100,000 Canadians who died in the world wars as well as the more than one million who served. Made of red granite inset with bronze maple leaves, it was designed to create the impression of maple leaves floating down a stream. Unveiled by Queen Elizabeth II in 1994.

8. Australian War Memorial – Located close to Wellington Arch at Hyde Park Corner, this monumental wall (pictured right) marks the role Australians played in both World Wars. More than 100,000 Australians died during the conflicts and the names of the 23,844 towns in which they were born are inscribed on the wall over which is superimposed the names of 47 battles in which Australians fought in. Unveiled on the 85th anniversary of Armistice Day, 2003. For more information, see

9. New Zealand War Memorial – Located at Hyde Park Corner diagonally opposite the Australian War Memorial, this monument was designed by architect John Hardwick-Smith and sculptor Paul Dibble and features 16 bronze cross-shaped ‘standards’ of varying heights set in formation and inscribed with text, patterns and some small sculptures. Dedicated on Armistice Day, 2006, by Queen Elizabeth II.

10. Soviet War Memorial – Found in the Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park – adjacent to the Imperial War Museum in Southwark, the Soviet War Memorial was unveiled in 1999. Designed by sculptor Sergei Shcherbakov, it commemorates the 27 million people who died in the Soviet Union during World War II. For more information, see