The Twentieth Century Society

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Click to see full size Photo © John East
Photo © John East
Photo © John East

War memorials

Belgium: Zantvoorde British Cemetery

Architect: Charles Holden
Owners: Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Location: Zonnebeke, West-Vlaanderen

Zantvoorde British Cemetery was designed by Charles Holden, with W.H. Cowlishaw as Assistant Architect. It is notable for the combination of ashlar with local rubble stone as well as for Holden’s usual sensitivity to site. The boundary wall running flush into the corner shelter building is a particularly happy feature – Arts and Crafts perhaps. There are 1,550 burials in the cemetery.

Holden’s relationship with the work of the IWGC is intriguing. He only became the fourth Principal Architect for France and Belgium in 1920 but he had been working for the Commission for two years prior to that. (Frederic Kenyon wrote to Fabian Ware in February 1918: “As to junior architects, Blomfield asks for Berrington, Lutyens for Holden, Baker for Pearson. I think this will be best, as Holden will be more able to keep Lutyens’ vagaries in check than anyone else”.) He may well have had an influence on its approach to designing and laying out the cemeteries. What is now certain is that two of the three first experimental cemeteries completed in 1920 were typical of Holden in their geometrical austerity and designed by him although all three were ostensibly by Blomfield as Principal Architect. For one of these – Louvencourt – he was Assistant Architect while the other – Forceville – which was the most successful and much admired by the press – was listed in his 1926 Who’s Who in Architecture entry.

Gavin Stamp

Commonwealth War Graves Commission 


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