Places to remember the First World War

Published 1 February 2016

We've picked our favourite venues and works of art that commemorate the First World War.

Theicon signifies when there is a National Art Pass offer

National Museum of Flight

  • East Lothian
Free entry

Following the outbreak of the First World War, the Admiralty was tasked with establishing a string of home defence airfields along the eastern seaboard of the UK, from Edinburgh to the south coast of England. In September 1915 the Director of Naval Air Services gave approval for an air station to be opened at East Fortune – now the site of this museum. Today, it houses personal testimonies, photographs and film and other unique artefacts that tell the story of service at the base. Also on display are the wings of an East Fortune Sopwith Cuckoo and the original painted gate from the Royal Naval Air Station.


Stanley Spencer Gallery

  • Berkshire
50% off entry

Opened in 1962– three years after Spencer's death – the gallery stands as a lasting memorial to the life and work of the Cookham-based painter. Spencer's life changed irrevocably with the outbreak of the First World War; signing up to serve in the Royal Army Medical Corps, he was posted to Bristol and then Macedonia, before transferring to fight on the front line in 1917. He also worked as an official war artist. When he returned to Cookham he said he had lost that 'early morning feeling' and his struggle to make sense of his experience haunts his later work. The collection contains examples of his paintings, portraits and drawings, as well as letters and other personal items. The Sandham Memorial Chapel at Burghclere is decorated with a series of large paintings by Spencer commemorating 'the forgotten dead' of the First World War.

Exterior view of the front of IWM Main building

IWM London (Imperial War Museums)

  • Greater London
Free to all
50% off exhibitions

IWM London, which underwent a major renovation and representation in time for the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, tells the stories of people's experiences of war and conflict. A series of galleries devoted to the First World War reveal what life was like in the trenches, and for those who remained at home. The museum's art collection contains a number of paintings of the war, including John Singer Sargent's Gassed, showing a procession of blinded soldiers in the aftermath of a gas attack, and Wyndham Lewis's A Battery Shelled.

Imperial War Museum North

IWM North (Imperial War Museums)

  • Greater Manchester
Free to all
50% off entry

Housed in an iconic building by Daniel Libeskind, designed to represent a shattered globe, IWM North uses innovative immersive displays featuring light and sound as well as objects, film and photographs, to reveal the realities of the conflicts in which the UK and Commonwealth have been involved since 1914. One of the iconic objects on show is the field gun which fired the British Army's first shot of the First World War.

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