Facts About the Cenotaph

Here are some facts about the Centotaph.

  • The Cenotaph is a war memorial on Whitehall, in central London. It is a few minutes walk from many of London’s most famous sights including 10 Downing Street, Trafalgar Square and the Houses of Parliament.

  • It was built after the end of World War I as a temporary memorial to those who died. The name comes from the Greek word for empty tomb or empty burial place.
  • The original cenotaph was made from wood and plaster and was designed to be temporary. However, the public left so many flowers at its base, the decision was made to make it a permanent memorial.
  • It was designed by the architect Edwin Lutyens, and built from Portland stone. The height is 11 metres and the carved wreaths at either end are 1.5 metres in diameter.
  • There are three carved stone wreaths on the Cenotaph, as well as two inscriptions reading ‘The Glorious Dead’. The dates of the First World War are inscribed in Roman numerals.

The Cenotaph

  • There are actually no right angles on the structure, although its sides appear to be perpendicular to the floor. In actual fact, the verticals would meet about 300 metres in the air, to symbolize the space between Earth and Heaven.
  • The Cenotaph and Whitehall were the scenes of celebrations in May, 1945 when World War II ended. The dates of the Second World War were added to the monument.
  • Routine maintenance and cleaning of the Cenotaph takes place every year. Major renovations took place in 2013, in time for the November Remembrance Day celebrations.
  • The national service of remembrance is held annually at the Cenotaph, every November on the Sunday closest to the 11th. King George V suggested the ceremony, which was first held in 1919.
  • An exact copy of the Cenotaph was built in London, Ontario, Canada in 1934. There are also Cenotaphs in Manchester, Hong Kong, Auckland, Southampton and Toronto.