The Shrine of Remembrance, consisting of the Shrine building and the surrounding Reserve including all memorials and features. The Reserve includes an avenue of Bhutan cypress, memorial trees, a Gallipoli Oak, and a replanted Gallipoli Pine (Pinus brutia); a large number of monuments and statues, including Simpson and his Donkey; a granite horse trough in memory of First World War horses; the Legacy memorial Widow and Children; the War World II memorial forecourt, incorporating the eternal flame; and a plaque to commemorate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander servicemen and women; and archaeological remains of World War II air raid slit trenches.
How is it significant?
The Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne, is of historical, archaeological, architectural, aesthetic, and social significance to the State of Victoria.
It satisfies the following criterion for inclusion in the Victorian Heritage Register:
Importance to the course, or pattern, of Victoria's cultural history.
Potential to yield information that will contribute to an understanding of Victoria's cultural history.
Importance in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a class of cultural places and objects.
Importance in exhibiting particular aesthetic characteristics.
Strong or special association with a particular community or cultural group for social, cultural or spiritual reasons. This includes the significance of a place to Indigenous peoples as part of their continuing and developing cultural traditions.
Why is it significant?
Shrine of Remembrance is significant at a State level for the following reasons:
The Shrine of Remembrance is of historical significance as the preeminent war memorial in the State. It commemorates the service and sacrifice of all Victorians who have served and died in wars since World War I (1914-18). It embodies the devastating impact of that war on the Australian nation, and Victoria in particular, which lost the largest proportion of its young men in the country. When the project was conceived, Melbourne was the capital of Australia and the seat of Federal Parliament and this resulted in the grandest war memorial in Australia, until the Australian War Memorial was built in Canberra in 1941. Since World War II (1939-45) numerous elements, including a commemorative forecourt, trees, statues and memorials, have been added to the Shrine Reserve to honour servicemen and women and peacekeepers from 1939 to the present day. As the largest and most important war memorial in Victoria, it reflects the community's ongoing need for a public expression of grief and of commemoration for the sacrifice of life in war. (Criterion A)
The Shrine of Remembrance is of archaeological significance for its potential to contain archaeological evidence of the design, construction, use, and remediation of air raid precaution slit trenches constructed during World War II (1939-45). The trenches were built in 1942 after Japan's entry into the war in late 1941, to shelter staff who worked at the nearby Victoria Barracks. The slit trenches were constructed in response to the fear of air attack during World War II and represent precautionary measures taken in Victoria's urban public areas. The distinctive zig-zag pattern of the trenches was typical of those built in several city parks and gardens as the preferred shelter for protecting large numbers of people from bomb blasts. There has been little subsurface disturbance since the trenches were backfilled. [Criterion C]
The Shrine of Remembrance is of architectural significance for the large and imposing memorial building, one of seven erected in Australia between 1925 (Hobart) and 1941 (Canberra). It is a distinctive, classically derived design which draws on symbolic Greek sources and incorporates carefully considered architectural refinements to correct optical illusions. It is important for its prominent siting; strong axiality; the variety of materials used, which are all Australian in origin; the unusual emphasis placed on the interior space; the ray of light in the sanctuary and the array of major sculptural works, executed by a number of accomplished sculptors, including British sculptor Paul Montford. The significance of the Shrine is enhanced by its dominant presence in the urban environment and a clear view of the place from outside the site. Views to and from the Shrine have been considered important since its construction. The importance of westward views from and across the forecourt has been increased as a consequence of the expansion of the forecourt space to accommodate the World War II memorials and associated ceremonies. [Criterion D & E]
The Shrine of Remembrance is of aesthetic significance for its design as a civic meeting place for remembrance and ceremonial purpose. Its design and setting is characterised by a sense of grandeur, solemnity and separateness which is heightened by its isolated and elevated siting on the edge of the central business district and its highly formal and axial planning. The Shrine has civic prominence and vistas from all directions including an uninterrupted view along St Kilda Road from Swanston Street. The formal layout of the Shrine Reserve, with its array of war memorials and plantings, enhances the Shrine's role as culturally significant place that provides opportunities for individual contemplation and reflection, for solemn group ceremonies and for educating the community about the tragic events it commemorates. [Criterion E]
The Shrine of Remembrance is of social and spiritual significance as the preeminent war memorial in the State. It has provided a focus for public events, a gathering place, and place for private reflection since its completion in 1934. Its construction reflects a high level of public support and a large crowd was present at the building's dedication. It has been, and continues to be, a place of importance to the Victorian people. There is a strong and special association between the Shrine and the Victorian people for social, cultural and spiritual reasons. It is notable that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander servicemen and servicewomen contributed to wartime service at a time in Victoria's history when Aboriginal people were denied the same civil and political rights as non-Aboriginal people. The Shrine of Remembrance is of social, cultural and spiritual significance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People of Victoria as a symbol of this contribution. [Criterion G]