Shrine of Remembrance
Designed in the style of a Greek Mausoleum, this most impressive structure, commonly known as “The Shrine” is occupying a prominent elevated site overlooking the Kings Domain on St Kilda Road in Melbourne. Shrine of Remembrance is Victoria’s most prominent and famous war memorial.The shrine was modelled partly on the design of the monument erected in 353 BC at Halicarnassos by Queen Artemisia in memory of her husband King Mausolus, which was considered as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
The Shrine of remembrance was conceived as the National War Memorial of Victoria to honour the 114000 men and women who served the Empire in the Great War of 1914 -1918 and especially the 19000 who died, and now is a memorial to all Australians who have served in war. It is the site of annual observances of ANZAC Day which falls on 25th April and Remembrance Day which is on 11th November.
History of the Shrine
The announcement that the Shrine was to be built was made by one of Australia’s most distinguished soldiers, Sir John Monash, at a dinner given to the Duke and Dutches of York when they visited Melbourne in the 1926. After the end of World War 1 there was much public debate about the form the war memorial should take; whether it has to be a school, hospital or a symbolic building? The story of the shrine began in 1921 when public meeting were held to discuss a memorial to men and women of the First World War and an expert committee examined possible sites.
In 1922 a civic committee decided to hold a competition for a memorial, to be paid for mainly by the public subscription. A panel chaired by Sir John Monash selected the entry by Melbourne architects; Phillip Hudson, James Wardrop, and Kingsley Ussher in 1923. It took another 4 years to take a final decision on the project and in 1927 Sir Monash gave his imprimatur to both the principle of a memorial and the winning design. This was the largest ever structure commissioned in Melbourne’s history at that time. Funding a project of such scale when the country was on the verge of depression presented many challenges. An appeal was launched in 1928 to raise funds to build the monument. But thousands of ordinary Australians contributed the necessary $250000 for work to begin. The foundation stone was laid on 11 November 1927, by the Governor of Victoria, Lord Somers.
Sir John Monash took personal charge of the construction and was handled by the contractors Vaughan & Lodge. Sir Monash died before the shrine was finished in 1931. Work was finally completed in September 1934, and the Shrine was formally dedicated on 11 November 1934 by the Duke of Gloucester, witnessed by a crowd of over 300,000 people which was a massive turnout at that time.
For many years after the construction of the shrine the guard on duty outside the main entrance always wore First World War uniforms. All members of the guard were used to be First World War Veterans
The memorial is in direct line with the centre of the city’s most important thoroughfare, Swanston Street.
A number of sculptures occupy the Shrine reserve: the memorial to the man with the donkey, the widow and the children statue in the legacy garden and the memorial horse trough to Australia’s war horses. The man with the donkey statue depicts Private John Simpson, a member of the 3rd Field Ambulance, who was killed at the age of 22 soon after the famous landing on 25th April 1915. Two further statues Ypres and The Driver are replicas of figures from the artillery memorial in Hyde Park, London. This was initially meant for National Gallery of Victoria.
In 1952 a bronze plaque was unveiled to the right of the steps of the shrine with the wordings, “Let All Men Know that This is a Holy Ground”. The eternal flame lit by Queen Elizabeth burns only a few yards away in front of a plain cenotaph with the simple inscription ” 1939 -45, a reminder that the forecourt was added to honour the men and women of the Second World War”.
On the terrace, four groups of statuary are depicting Patriotism, Sacrifice, Goodwill, Justice and Peace each has borne on a chariot drawn by lions and led by a small boy, a symbol representing the many thousands of school children who gave their pennies towards the cost of the shrine.
Redevelopment of the Shrine
Restoration works were undertaken on the shrine in the 1990’s. In 2002 construction was undertaken at a planned cost of $5.5Million to provide a visitors Centre, administration facilities and an improved access to Shrine’s Crypt, as many of the remaining veterans and their families found the stairs at the traditional ceremonial entrance difficult to climb. Two new courtyards were also added to the design.
Management of the Shrine
The Shrine is managed by the Shrine of Remembrance Trustees; ten individuals appointed by the Governor in Council, on the advice of the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs in the Victorian Government. The Trustees are responsible for the care, management, maintenance and preservation of the Shrine and Shrine Reserve.
Shrine Opening Hours
10am – 5pm daily, closed Good
Friday and Christmas Day
Last admission to the Galleries of Remembrance is 4.30pm. The admission to the shrine is free.
Shrine of remembrance details
Address: Birdwood Ave, Melbourne, Victoria 3004
Phone: 03 9661 8100 | Fax: 03 9662 9411
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