When were the wreaths first laid at the Cenotaph?
The Cenotaph has been the centrepiece of services to remember the fallen since 1919
It was, at first, a wood-and-plaster structure designed by the architect Sir Edwin Luytens for the London Victory Parade of 19 July 1919. This original structure was pulled down soon after, but not before it became a place where members of the public could leave flowers and wreaths at its base.
Yet such was the public demand for a war memorial that Prime Minister Lloyd George and his cabinet decided to replace it with something more permanent and it was decided that the new memorial should be an exact replica of the temporary original.
King George V unveiled Luytens’ iconic Portland stone structure in London’s Whitehall on 11 November 1920 – the second anniversary of the Armistice. Standing 11 metres high, it is simply decorated with the inscribed words ‘The Glorious Dead’, two wreaths and the dates of World War I. The Cenotaph has been the site of the annual National Service of Remembrance ever since.
Luytens’ design went on to influence war memorials all over Britain as well as around the world.