Today, 17 July 2014, YS Crawford Butler, the longest serving of the Tower of London’s iconic Yeoman Warders, planted the first of over 800,000 ceramic poppies that will appear around the famous landmark over the summer to form a major art installation marking the centenary of the First World War.
The evolving installation by ceramic artist Paul Cummins, with setting by stage designer Tom Piper, will officially be unveiled on 5 August 2014; one hundred years since the first full day of Britain’s involvement in the First World War.
Entitled ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ the installation is being created in the Tower’s famous dry moat and will continue to grow throughout the summer until the moat is filled with 888,246 ceramic poppies, each poppy representing a British military fatality during the war.
A symbol of Remembrance in the UK, the poppies will encircle the iconic landmark, creating not only a spectacular display visible from all around the Tower, but also an inspiring setting for learning activities and a location for personal reflection. The scale of the installation intends to reflect the magnitude of such an important centenary creating a powerful visual commemoration.
The poppies will be installed by a team of over 8,000 volunteers from across the UK and the last poppy will be planted on Armistice Day, 11 November 2014.
Each poppy will be available to buy for £25 (+p&p) from 5 August 2014. 10% from each poppy plus all net proceeds, which we hope will amount to millions of pounds if all poppies are sold, will be shared equally amongst six service charities. The charities chosen are The Royal British Legion. Confederation of Service Charities (COBSEO), Combat Stress, Coming Home, Help for Heroes and SSAFA (formerly the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association).
Throughout the installation period (5 August to 11 November) at twilight, the public will be able to witness from Tower Hill terrace the names of 180 serving military killed during the First World War being read out in a roll of honour. This will be followed by the ‘Last Post’ bugle call played by a single bugler. Members of the public can nominate a name for the roll of honour using a weekly ‘first come, first served’ nomination system which will allow those with the relevant information to put a name forward for the roll of honour to be read the following week.
Volunteers and members of the public are invited to document their involvement and witness the project evolve via Historic Royal Palaces’s social media channels on Facebook (/TowerofLondon) or on Twitter (@HRP_Palaces @Seasofred2014 #SeasofRed).
Members of the public can express their interest in volunteering opportunities, find out more about nominating a name for the roll of honour or register interest to purchase a poppy by visiting www.hrp.org.uk/TowerofLondon
General the Lord Dannatt, Constable of the Tower of London, said:
“For this important anniversary year, we wanted the Tower of London’s commemorations to serve as a fitting tribute to those who lost their lives during the First World War, whilst encouraging others to reflect on our past.
“The First World War was a pivotal moment in our history, claiming the lives of over 16 million people across the globe; its consequences have shaped our modern society. We hope that people across Britain, Europe and the rest of the world will join us by being a part of this unique moment which we feel reflects the magnitude of this centenary year.”
Historic Royal Palaces, the independent charity that cares for the Tower of London, are grateful to Catlin Group Ltd and Santander UK plc for their support on this project as Premier Partners of the Tower of London.