Book Review: Lutyens and the Great War
by Tim Skelton and Gerald Gliddon
Francis Lincoln £30 (hardback)
This is a book which Lutyens devotees have eagerly anticipated for years. In spite of several biographies and books focusing on various sectors of his work, what has always been missing was a definitive list of all his works. The Hayward Gallery catalogue of 1981 and Peter Inskip’s seminal work – both now over twenty-five years old – have been overtaken by more recent research. Most of the monuments designed by Lutyens have not previously been listed, and it is in this area that the book not only expands our knowledge, but goes on to fill huge gaps in the list of known works.
I have been aware that Tim Skelton has for many years been patiently visiting, photographing and cataloguing every Lutyens monument, meticulously checking the provenance of each one to ensure its correct attribution. I was therefore looking forward to a comprehensive listing or gazetteer of War Memorials, supported by photographs. But this book is that and a great deal more. There is important background material on the way in which War Memorial Commissions operated, not only through the Imperial War Graves Commission, but also through the influence of private clients. It contains comprehensive sections on village memorials, town and city memorials, the French memorials and non-European memorials, and even a section on memorials that were never actually built. It is superbly illustrated and care has been taken to ensure that the excellent photographs show the context and setting of each memorial; something to which Lutyens attached great importance.
In this informative and comprehensive book, Tim Skelton and Gerald Gliddon cover in detail ground not previously explored. It is not only a useful and informative addition to a Lutyens library; it is an essential one.
Anyone planning to visit the Western Front would find the following valuable advice contained in the book: ‘Any visitor to the Western Front is advised to do as much research as possible before setting out because, even with all of the necessary information, it can sometimes be quite difficult to find some of the more isolated cemeteries. The Michelin atlas Cemeteries and Memorials in Belgium and Northern France published by, and available from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission is an indispensible purchase and one can also download detailed route directions as well as cemetery plans from the Commission’s website (www.cwgc.org). The CWCG’s own local direction signs will also help once in the general location of the cemetery.’