Thousands of Ceramic Poppies Commemorate WWI in London

The Tower of London has traditionally been one of the city’s more foreboding landmarks, serving in part as a prison from 1100 until 1952. As the UK marks the 100th anniversary of its entrance into World War I, however, a sea of red ceramic poppies has sprung up around the building, spilling over the bridge and out of the windows into the tower’s surrounding moat to gorgeous effect.

As reported by Colossal, the poppies are the work of ceramic artist Paul Cummins and stage designer Tom Piper. Slowly but surely, over the past few weeks, volunteers have been carefully planting the bright red flowers. The moat will continue to bloom throughout the summer, until there are 888,246 flowers in total, or one for each soldier from the UK and its colonies who was killed during the First World War. At twilight each evening, a Roll of Honor ceremony will be held and include the reading of the names of 180 of those who died, accompanied by a solitary bugle call.

The poppy became known as a flower of remembrance because of those men who died fighting in the trenches in the poppy fields of Flanders. In the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, artificial poppies are commonly worn on November 11, known as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day, which marks the anniversary of the end of the Great War. Appropriately, the final ceramic poppy in the installation, titled Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, will be planted on November 11 of this year.

The poppies are for sale for £25 ($42) each, with 10 percent of the proceeds to benefit six different charities: the Confederation of Service Charities, Combat Stress, Coming Home, Help for Heroes, the Royal British Legion, and the SSAFA. Visitors to the Tower are being encouraged to share the poppies on social media sites using the #TowerPoppies hashtag.

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