First World War Memorials

Tributes to the Fallen

First World War Memorials in the RIBA Collections

To mark 100 years since the end of World War One, RIBApix presents a collection of images showing both built and unexecuted First World War Memorials from around the world.

The devastating and unimaginable number of casualties as well as the destruction of large areas of Europe, led to The Great War of 1914-1918 being known at the time as “the war to end all wars”. Thousands of families around the world were affected, with many communities losing a large portion of their young, male population. Hundreds of villages and towns across Europe were badly damaged or in some cases destroyed by the war. In addition to the many lives lost, World War One also resulted in millions of soldiers returning home with both physical and mental scars, forever impacted by their participation in the conflict.

The monumental impact of The Great War globally resulted in a major shift in how nations commemorated it. Huge numbers of memorials were built around the world, with over 100,000 in France alone. Many towns and villages constructed small memorials to the men their communities had lost. Thousands of memorial walls of honour were put up in factories, railway stations, schools and universities to commemorate participants from institutions. The Royal Institute of British Architects’ memorial is outside of the Jarvis Hall at its headquarters at 66 Portland Place, to commemorate ‘members, licentiates and students’ who lost their lives in the First World War. The majority of these were paid for by the communities and institutions themselves.

Beyond these smaller more community driven memorials, larger ones were also built, driven by governments and international organisations. The Imperial War Graves Commission (now the Commonwealth War Graves Commission) for example was set up to create memorials to soldiers from Great Britain and the wider commonwealth that had fought in the war, including the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres, and the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme. The Cenotaph, London’s most prominent memorial built after the First World War, was designed by Edwin Lutyens, initially a temporary structure made of wood and plaster, built as Whitehall’s monument for the London Victory Parade on 19 July 1919. On the 30th July that year, the British War Cabinet decided that a permanent war memorial should replace the temporary one. The final completed version, built from Portland Stone by Holland & Hannen and Cubitts, was unveiled by King George V on 11 November 1920, the second anniversary of the end of the First World War.

As well as the memorials constructed across the world, war cemeteries also represented a strong example of the way the First World War was commemorated. The Treaty of Versailles made all nations responsible for the maintenance of military graves within their countries. The countries of the soldiers interned there however, held control over the style and design of the cemeteries. Architecturally, most war memorials and war cemeteries built to commemorate the First World War were conservative in design, commonly following classical themes, attempting to provide a noble, enduring commemoration of the fallen.

To see additional images of war memorials from the First World War, Click here. To see images of war memorials from all conflicts, Click here.

Feature by Anthony Wilkinson.

 

108584 items
RIBA3986Contract design for the principal tower of the Imperial Institute, South Kensington, London

 
RIBA3987Design for the Imperial Institute, South Kensington, London: detail of centre block of front elevation

 
RIBA3989Preliminary design for Religious Studio, BBC Broadcasting House, Portland Place, London


RIBA3990Design for a fountain in the gardens at Buckingham Palace, London

 
RIBA3992Design for the completion of the hall at Highclere Castle, Hampshire

 
RIBA3993Designs for the Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, South Kensington, London: two half-plans and perspectival elevation of principal doorway


RIBA3994Design for Clobb Copse, Buckler's Hard, Beaulieu, Hampshire

 
RIBA3995Designs for the Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, South Kensington, London: perspective of gallery with skeletons

 
RIBA3996Design for a gardener's cottage at Laverstoke House, Hampshire, for Melville Porter, MP: perspective


RIBA3997Design for the Great Hall, Euston Station, London

 
RIBA3999Design for a desk for Ernest Debenham: front and side elevations of the construction and marquetry

 
RIBA4000Preliminary design for the interior of RMS Orion


RIBA4001Design for a lounge, RMS Orion

 
RIBA4002Design for the interior of RMS Orion: detail of a lounge

 
RIBA4003Design for Great Portland Street Underground Station for the Metropolitan Railway, London


RIBA4004Unexecuted design for the interior of the News Theatre, Newcastle-upon-Tyne

 
RIBA40076 Temple Gardens, Moor Park, Hertfordshire

 
RIBA40086 Temple Gardens, Moor Park, Hertfordshire: the garden front


RIBA40096 Temple Gardens (left), Moor Park, Hertfordshire, seen from golf course

 
RIBA40106 Temple Gardens, Moor Park, Hertfordshire: the living room

 
RIBA4011Church of St Mary, Studley Royal, North Yorkshire: the ornately decorated vaulted chancel and choir


RIBA4013Project for a villa

 
RIBA4016Drawing of the Sydney Opera House under construction

 
RIBA4017Design for the British Pavilion, Exposition Internationale des Arts et des Techniques dans la Vie Moderne, Paris 1937


RIBA4019Design for the Imperial Monumental Halls and Tower, Westminster, London: viewed looking south-west

 
RIBA4021Joldwynds, Holmbury St Mary, Surrey: the entrance front

 
RIBA4022Design for Frinton Park Estate, Frinton-on-Sea, Essex


RIBA4023Design for an underground railway and bus station for London Transport, Newbury Park, Redbridge, London

 
RIBA4024Design for the British Pavilion, Exposition Internationale des Arts et des Techniques dans la Vie Moderne, Paris 1937

 
RIBA4025Design for a lounge, RMS Orion