Thursday, August 7, 2014

Poppies At The Tower of London

Yesterday, I met John after work and we walked to the Tower of London to see the poppy installation that was formally unveiled on Monday, which marked the centenary of Britain's entry into World War One.

The exhibition of ceramic poppies is called "The Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red" and is by artist Paul Cummins. 888,246 poppies (each poppy representing every British and Colonial death during the War) will be gradually planted in the dry moat of the Tower, with the final poppy to be placed on November 11th, 2014 - Remembrance Day.

Hundreds of photos swarmed my social media news feeds when the poppies were unveiled earlier this week, but I really wanted to see them for myself.

"Beautiful," remarked many commenters.

But having seen it in person, it seemed more horrific than anything else. After all, the poppies bloomed across the worst and bloodiest battlefields of Flanders in World War One and the sea of red that spills out of the Tower and into the moat is a stark reminder of the loss endured from the War.

From afar, it looks as though the Tower is bleeding; seeping blood from one of its windows, which - due to its depth - resembles a gaping mouth.

From the side, the image is even more powerful - the poppies, which now resembles a pool of blood, encircles the outer perimeter of the Tower's walls and the undulating, uneven curves of this pool seep as far as the eye can see.

I hadn't realized that I had caught the shadows of tourists/onlookers/photographers in the photo above - but it seems all the more poignant that I did, as they gaze directly at the poppies in front of them.

During our visit, I said to John that I couldn't think of a more fitting tribute to the lives that were lost (or "cut short," commented John, perceptively) than this sweeping statement of poppies spilling out of the Tower's gaping mouth - like a wound that, symbolically, continues to (actively) bleed until November 11th. 

More information on the poppies can be found here, including information on how to purchase a poppy for £25 (10% from the sale of each poppy, plus all net proceeds, will go to six service charities).

If you are travelling or passing through London, then I'd highly recommend a stop by this awesome yet devastating tribute.


  1. Absolutely gorgeous. Had only considered a visit previously, but now I'm going to have to make sure I see this. Gorgeous photos, as well!

    1. Thank you, Robin! I hope to make it back a few times over the next few months before the final poppy is planted. It's really something else.

  2. Wow, wish I could've seen that when we lived nearby in Tower Hamlets! Now we are back in the US. That is definitely a stunning statement.

    1. Oh no! You know, I used to live in Tower Hamlets and we *never* went to Tower of London then, even though it's super cheap to get in if you're a Tower Hamlets resident. I'm looking forward to returning in November right before the final poppy is planted. Thanks for reading, Vanessa! Had a quick peek at your blog and it is *lovely*.


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