Sunday, 2 November 2014

Tower Poppies

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red

On the first of November we went to the Tower of London to see the Tower Poppies.

I had been by myself a couple of months before, in early September, one month after they had begun installing 888,246 poppies in the moat of the Tower of London, to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.

Our journey walking from London Bridge station, took us past HMS Belfast with its remembrance poppy.
'HMS Belfast wasn't in the First World War, it was launched in 1939
at the beginning of the Second World War.'

Stepping off Tower Bridge these were the first Tower Poppies we saw.

Then walking up the West side, I saw how the field of poppies had grown in the last two months,
from this,

to this.

Each poppy represents a life,  a British military fatality in the First World War.

Volunteers will have planted all the poppies, in just over three months.

I wondered what kind of people had volunteered and what their reasons may have been for doing so.

Whether volunteers were perhaps planting poppies in remembrance of relatives who served and died in the First World War.

I have no family history to tell my children of lives lost in the First World War.
But I tell them about my granny, who in her seventies, once showed me a letter that her father had sent her from the trenches, with a drawing of a flower and mud on it. When she died, my mum hunted high and low, and much to all our disappointment the letter was never found.

We have spent the last few weeks building up a picture of the First World War, listening to 'Horrible Histories' in the car and during the half-term break last week we went to Vimy Ridge, a First World War battlefield in Northern France, with cousins. (I'll post about that trip soon) We were all captivated by the tunnels, trenches, bomb craters and stories of fighting, communications, living conditions and truces.

So when we met back up with the same cousins, just a week later, to see the Tower Poppies, I felt that our kids had in their minds, a little of the 'bloody' context for these flowers.

And it was difficult not to be overwhelmed at their number.
A sea of red below us!

The number of visitors coming to see Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red has made the news, with surrounding road and tube closures essential to manage the crowds, 

It was busy, very very busy.
But we all agreed, between aged ten to seventy-three, that it was worth it.

On the way home my youngest two asked whether they would do that again to mark the 200 year anniversary. "You would have to live to 111 years old to be around for the 200 year anniversary".
 We talked about how things can get forgotten and whether there would maybe be other wars in the next 100 years that we would need to remember.

This installation was designed by Paul Cummins and Tom Piper, in the words of the Tower website, 'creating not only a spectacular display visible from all around the Tower
but also a location for personal reflection'.
I think they achieved that.

The last poppy will be planted on the 11th November 2014.
Details on the website here.


  1. This is the best art installation ever! I love every picture I see in the media or on blogs. It is amazing. My grandfather served in World War 1 in the fields of Flanders. We went there a few years ago and saw the trenches and war cemeteries near Ypres, and it was very moving as well as interesting.

    1. It is amazing, there are petitions to try & keep it open beyond 11th Nov. We'll see what happens.

  2. I saw this earlier in the year and it was stunning then but it is completely mind blowing now. To think that each one represents a life is very humbling and it is so beautiful too.

    1. I loved it. So very beautiful. Glad you got to see it.

  3. This has been an amazing installation and although I haven't seen it, the visual representation of all the lives lost is disturbing and humbling at the same time. I can imagine that if I was in a position to volunteer then I would have done simply to make a contribution as my own act of remembrance, even though I have no personal connection.

    1. It is amazing. It really has captured the public's imagination. I think that having had the public/volunteers involved in setting it up has added to the whole feel of it.

  4. The poppies are amazing and it was amazing to see your pictures as well. Thank you for sharing them. xx

    1. Thanks. Glad I could share a post about Tower Poppies. It was inspiring to see, especially after going to a WW1 battlefield the week beforehand.

  5. A moving account Katharine. We were not able to visit so thank you for sharing your experience. Beautiful photos too.

  6. Thanks so much for reading & commenting. Glad to have shared such an amazing installation.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...