Address: Whitehall, London SW1A 2BX

Time: Any

600m from Charing Cross

300m from Westminster

The Cenotaph is the war memorial located between lanes in the centre of the road called ‘Whitehall’. The word is Greek for ’empty tomb’.

After World War I ended on 11th November 1918, a Peace Day was held in July 1919 and Edwin Lutyens designed and built a suitable monument at the request of Prime Minister David Lloyd George. It was made of wood and plaster and Lutyens had two weeks to complete the project. It was the endpoint of a victory parade and was adorned with public wreaths. The ceremony was attended by royal, armed forces and political dignitaries and the London streets were filled with people, many being servicemen and relations who were all there to remember the fallen soldiers.

After the ceremony there was an immediate call for a permanent monument and this time Lutyens built it out of Portland Stone. It was suggested that the site be moved to a quieter location, but this was rejected as it was the site of the Peace Day ceremony. The new monument was unveiled on November 11th 1920. King George V pulled the cord of the Union Flag and fell into line as chief mourner behind the carriage that took the unknown soldier to the tomb in Westminster Abbey. In the following week over a million people followed the same route.

By far the biggest day of the year for the Cenotaph is Remembrance Sunday, being the Sunday closest to November 11th. During the service the Queen lays the first wreath and what follows is one of the biggest march pasts and wreath laying ceremonies in the world. This has national television coverage.

Originally built to commemorate the British Empire victims of the First World War, then Second World War, the Cenotaph is now also dedicated to the British servicemen who have fallen in any conflict since. There are four dates -1914, 1919, 1939 and 1945, and two wreaths and three flags on either side.

As it can almost be touched when driving past in a car, it could be one of the most regularly close-viewed landmarks in central London.

Click on the pics below for an enlarged view and use the arrow towards the right edge of each pic to go on to the next.