Poppies at the Tower of London // In pictures

Poppies at the Tower of London

As you approach the Tower of London, the moat is a sea of red, with tightly packed flowers as far as the eye can see. It’s an awe-inspiring sight, and even more so when you realise that every single bloom equates to a life lost in the First World War. It’s all part of an art installation called Blood Swept Lands And Seas Of Red, created by ceramicist Paul Cummins, which centres around the symbol of remembrance – the poppy. The first poppy was planted in the Tower’s moat on the 100 year anniversary of the First World War on 17 July and by Armistice Day on 11 November the moat will be full of 888,246 poppies.

Each poppy represents one soldier from the UK, Australia or Commonwealth who gave their life in the First World War. Each night at sunset the Last Post is played by a bugler and the names of another 180 war dead are read out from the Roll of Honour. There have been over four million visitors so far and a queue of people, young and old, snakes around the edge of the moat. But not for much longer – the exhibition is only temporary and the poppies are being sold off afterwards, raising over £7 million for charity. It’s an amazing sight and a great legacy for a conflict never to be forgotten.

Moat of poppies at the Tower of Lodon
Bllod Swept Lands and Seas of Red
Tower of London poppies
Ceramic poppies close up
Moat at the Tower of London
Remembrance poppies
Tower of London poppies
Moat of poppies at the Tower of Lodon

The details

The best place to see the poppies is from Tower Hill or the end of Tower Bridge. You don’t need a ticket for the Tower of London to see them, but if you do there’s a great viewpoint from the bridge over the moat. The last poppies will be planted outside the Tower on 11 November, then they’ll start to be removed. Some sections – like the poppies flowing out the window and the arch – will be touring the UK before going on display at the Imperial War Museum, and the others have been sold to raise money.

Comments

    • Lucy says

      It was really spectacular – and they have had so many visitors, it’s a shame they aren’t there for longer as so many more people want to see them. My mum and sister have both bought poppies but unfortunately I left it too late.

    • Lucy says

      It is! It’s only on for this year for the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War, but I’m sure they have some more events planned over the next few years.

  1. says

    I had the chance to see this when I was in London last month. It truly takes your breath away, especially when you think about all that each poppy stands for. Beautiful pictures!

    • Lucy says

      Fantastic isn’t it – and so overwhelming when you see them all together and think of all the lives lost, such a great tribute though.

    • Lucy says

      Thanks Andrew, it’s a shame they can’t leave them there for longer as there are so many people who’d love to see them someday, but I understand they want to sell them on as it’s such a great fund-raiser.

    • Lucy says

      My mum and sister went a month ago and it looked great then but there are so many then it’s almost like a solid colour from a distance, really spectacular!

  2. says

    Wow, I’ve never seen an art installation quite like this! Such a beautiful way to remember fallen soldiers.

    I read the sign in the one photo–are they looking for volunteers to help make the poppies? Or install the poppies? Curious as to how they are involving the community in this project.

    • Lucy says

      Such a lovely idea isn’t it. The volunteers were to help plant the poppies each evening and you could also apply to have your relatives put on the Roll of Honour to be read out each evening – they had a huge amount of applications for both.

  3. says

    I’m so disappointed that I won’t get a chance to see this. The photos are amazing, but I imagine it’s incredibly moving to see the installation in real life.

    • Lucy says

      It is very moving, totally humbling when you see such a huge amount of poppies and realise that each of them equates to one person who was killed – it really brings the statistics to life.

  4. says

    Amazing photos, Lucy! I wanted to see the poppies from the first time I’ve heard of them, but sadly I can’t make it to London. All I’ve seen so far were pictures like the first one, but you captured them beautifully from different perspectives and for a moment I forgot I wasn’t there. 🙂

    • Lucy says

      Thanks Vlad, they are so impressive all together but I really liked trying to get a bit closer up and have a proper look at the detail on them – just wish I could’ve got a bit nearer!

    • Lucy says

      I loved that arch and where they made it look like the poppies flowed out from the Tower windows, such an imaginative and beautiful memorial.

  5. says

    Wow! This blew me away – both the images and the story behind them. Guess I last visited London at the wrong time (although there’s never a bad time to visit London!)

    • Lucy says

      It’s such a beautiful tribute isn’t it – though as you say there’s always something going on in London, whenever you visit!

    • Lucy says

      Lovely to meet you too! And great that you managed to make it along to see the poppies too, hope you had a lovely trip to London.

  6. says

    What a beautiful (literally) way to honor lost lives! Just another reason I think so highly of London. I wish I could see this in person…

    • Lucy says

      Such a lovely idea isn’t it? And it seems to have really captured people’s hearts – they now plan to take some of the sections on tour so more people will get to see them.

  7. says

    Ahh I visited the Tower of London last weekend and am publishing my blog post on the 11th Nov. Your photos are beautiful, there wasn’t such a lovely blue sky the day I went!

    • Lucy says

      Look forward to seeing your post too. I got very lucky with the timing – it was a beautiful morning but started to cloud over while I was in the Tower and by the time I’d walked over the river it was torrential rain and I got soaked (typical London autumn day!).

    • Lucy says

      Thanks Suzanne, I just saw your pictures too – amazing how many more there are in such a short amount of time. Such a moving and imaginative idea, it’s really captured people’s imaginations.

  8. says

    Wow, I have never seen anything like this! It’s absolutely stunning, and your pictures are gorgeous. Very breath-taking. This is such a beautiful way to commemorate lost lives.

  9. says

    This is such a moving idea and really brings home the fact of how many people lost their lives. I know a lot of people who have been to see it and they said it’s incredible – although I believe there was quite a crush at the weekends…

  10. says

    Isn’t it a wonderful concept, Lucy? I’ve yet to read who was the architect but individually they are beautiful and together purely amazing. Wish I’d had a chance to see them, so thanks for taking me there. 🙂

    • Lucy says

      Lovely isn’t it Jo – the artist behind it is the ceramicist Paul Cummins who designed it and made the poppies, what an amazing imagination. Hopefully you’ll be able to see some of them when they tour them around the UK later this year.

    • Lucy says

      It really was something – despite all the crowds there was such a peaceful and respectful atmosphere, it’s a fantastic way to remember all those lives lost.

  11. says

    These are really gorgeous photos! I’m ruing my decision to visit London a little too early for this spectacle–the poppies bloomed right after I came back. But it’s very nice to see these photos and think back on my day at the magnificent Tower of London.

    • Lucy says

      The Tower of London is a fascinating place to visit even without the poppies! Though if you do make it back to London they plan to exhibit some of the poppies in the Imperial War Museum in the future.

    • Lucy says

      Thanks, it was a really moving sight, the numbers are overwhelming when you see them all laid out like that. Only a shame it wasn’t there for longer so more people could see it.

  12. Marni says

    Stunning pictures… what a way to honor the fallen and put it into perspective just how devastating the war was.

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