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Historic Building Details

HB Ref No:
HB26/50/001 D

Extent of Listing:
Memorial and gardens

Date of Construction:
1920 - 1939

Address :
Cenotaph & Garden of Remembrance City Hall Donegall Square Belfast County Antrim BT1 5GS

Town Parks

Survey 2:

Date of Listing:
20/06/1984 00:00:00

Date of De-listing:

Current Use:

Former Use

Conservation Area:

Industrial Archaeology:





OS Map No:

IG Ref:
J3378 7396

Owner Category

Exterior Description And Setting

A semicircle of Egyptian-style Corinthian columns forming a backdrop to the Cenotaph, erected 1929 to designs by Sir Alfred Brumwell Thomas and located on the W side of the City Hall. The tall columns are paired and stand on mutual plinths, supporting a cornice decorated with roundels and dentils. At the focus of the arcade is a Lutyensesque monument in Portland stone consisting of an inscribed base over a plinth of three shallow steps, with a pair of pilasters front and back supporting an intricate pediment of rosettes, dentils and acanthus leaves. Intersecting with this on either side are lower pairs of pilasters surmounted by wreathes. An associated sunken paved area separated from the rest of the grounds by limestone balustrading forms part of its
setting. Setting One of a number of memorials (HB26/50/001B-001C and HB26/50/001E-001J) in the grounds surrounding the City Hall (HB26/50/001A), surrounded by lawns. Portland limestone with some bronze enrichments


Thomas, Sir Alfred Brumwell

Historical Information

Built to commemorate the Ulster soldiers who perished during the First World War of 1914-18, this group of war memorials, unveiled in 1929, was built to the designs of Sir Alfred Brumwell Thomas, architect of the City Hall (HB26/50/001A). During the 1920s, Brumwell Thomas was consulted on the rearrangement of the City Hall grounds and the associated monuments. This included the addition of a city war memorial on the south-western side of the grounds. The original intention was for the Garden to be surrounded with an arrangement of columns and a balustrade, with four of the existing statues within the grounds, placed at each corner (McIntosh). However, Thomas’ designs, which he prepared in 1924, were adopted and construction commenced in 1925. Notably, Thomas had previously worked on the statute of the First Marquis of Dufferin and Ava (HB26/50/001B) during the 1900s, in collaboration with the sculptor Frederick Pomeroy. The main contract was undertaken by W.J Campbell and Son, builders, while the architectural sculptors Purdy and Millard executed the stone carving and the inscriptions (Larmour). A local firm based in Belfast, Purdy and Millard also carried out the detailed carvings of the Scottish Provident Institution (HB26/50/012), which is located opposite on Donegall Square West (DIA). Completed in 1927, the Cenotaph and Garden of Remembrance were unveiled by Field Marshall the Viscount Allenby on Armistice Day, 11th November 1929. The thirty foot high cenotaph in Portland stone is an empty tomb, commemorating the fallen whose remains rest elsewhere. Providing a background on either side of this vertical monument is a semi-circular colonnade of Corinthian columns. The Garden of Remembrance is a sunken area in front of the cenotaph, encompassing the western side of the City Hall. In recent times the garden, steps and paving have been altered and rearranged (Larmour; Patton). Larmour, writing in 2010 comments that the monument is “… fittingly severe in its lines and appropriately sombre in mood, creating with its sanctuary-like setting an atmosphere of peace and repose, while responding to the City Hall itself…” References: Secondary Sources 1. Larmour, P “Belfast City Hall- An Architectural History” UAHS (2010) 2. McIntosh, Gillian “Belfast City Hall One Hundred Years” Belfast City Council (2006) 3. Patton, Marcus “Central Belfast- An Historical Gazetteer” UAHS, Belfast (1993) 4. - Dictionary of Irish Architects online

Criteria for Listing

Architectural Interest

A. Style B. Proportion C. Ornamentation D. Plan Form J. Setting K. Group value

Historic Interest

Z. Rarity V. Authorship X. Local Interest


The Cenotaph was completed in 1927 to designs by Sir Alfred Brumwell Thomas, the architect of the City Hall (HB26/50/001A). It forms a major element in the setting of the City Hall and is the most significant of the group of memorials in the grounds (HB26/50/001B,C & E-J). The massive cenotaph with intersecting pediments is composed with a semicircular arcade of paired Corinthian columns and set above a sunken gathering space. It is the only Cenotaph in Northern Ireland and, thus, the principal war memorial. Its austere classicism reflects its purpose and it is a fine example of the type by an architect of note.

General Comments

Formerly HB26/50/005

Date of Survey

10 August 2012