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"The Cenotaph: what should be a very solemn place" Cenotaph Tip by CatherineReichardt

Cenotaph, London: 11 reviews and 21 photos

  The Cenotaph, Whitehall
by CatherineReichardt

The Cenotaph on Whitehall is an often overlooked place, except on Remembrance Sunday in November, when the entire area is brought to a halt by crowds paying their respects to Britain's fallen heroes.

The term 'Çenotaph' means 'empty tomb' and was established in 1920 to honour the memory of the fallen in The Great War - World War I - which was billed at the time as 'The War to End All Wars'. Unfortunately just over two decades later, this estimation was to prove sadly optimistic, and the Cenotaph now commemorates both World Wars and those who have been killed in the service of their country in subsequent conflicts.

The Cenotaph in London was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and has created a template for cenotaphs throughout the Commonwealth.

On Remembrance Sunday - the closest Sunday to Armistice Day, 11 November, on which First World War hostilities ceased - a solemn wreath laying ceremony takes place at the Cenotaph, lead by the Queen and the Prime Minister. These ceremonies have taken on added poignancy in recent years as the survivors of the World Wars become frailer and less numerous, and their ranks are supplemented by more recent veterans of the Afghan and Gulf Wars.

In the run up to Remembrance Sunday, many people - notably newsreaders and other TV personalities - wear red poppy badges in their lapels. These commemorate the poppies that sprung up on the battle fields of Flanders after the war and also symbolise the red of the blood spilled. Money from poppy sales is donated to a range of charities for veterans.

Unfortunately such respect for the fallen is not shared by all: a group of youths were convicted of defacing the Cenotaph in the London riots of December 2010 - including Charlie Gilmour (stepson of legendary Pink Floyd guitarist Dave) who was found guilty of swinging from the Union Jack - and were deservedly jailed for their troubles.

Address: Whitehall, London SW1A 2ET
Directions: Nearest Tube, Westminster Station. Between Derby Gate St. & Richmond Terrace.

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Dec 13, 2011
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