The Twentieth Century Society

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Click to see full size Photo © John East
Photo © John East
Corbie Communal Cemetery by Gavin Stamp
Photo © Country Life

War memorials

France: Corbie Communal Cemetery Extension

Architect: Charles Holden
Owners: Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Location: Somme, France

The cemetery here was begun in May 1916 in preparation for the Somme offensive. The permanent cemetery, with 1,163 burials, was built in 1921-22. The first design was made by Lutyens, but what was built was the work of Charles Holden, with W.H. Cowlishaw as Assistant Architect. Holden had been an Assistant Architect but was made one of the Principal Architects for France and Belgium in 1920. The relationship between Holden and Lutyens is complex and the former’s severe, elemental style – almost a primitive Classicism – may well have had an influence both on the latter and on the work of the Commission. Lutyens’s nearby British Cemetery at La Neuville is very similar in style and Holden seems to have been responsible for two of the three experimental cemeteries completed in 1920 (Forceville and Louvencourt) for which Sir Reginald Blomfield was ostensibly the architect. Holden once wrote to the I.W.G.C. that he was “in favour of eliminating everything that is of only temporary interest”. The elemental form of the lodge buildings at Corbie clearly relates to his contemporary work for the London Passenger Transport Board on the Northern Line Extension.

Gavin Stamp

Commonwealth War Graves Commission 

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