In pictures

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.

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49 Comments

  • Reply
    Jen Seligmann
    November 6, 2014 at 11:50 am

    These are beautiful photos Lucy. I think this is such a nice way to commemorate and ultimately raise money. I’d love to see it for myself if they ever do it again.

    • Reply
      Lucy
      November 6, 2014 at 12:23 pm

      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.

  • Reply
    Madhu
    November 6, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    Wow! What an amazing installation Lucy. Will there be a repeat next year?

    • Reply
      Lucy
      November 6, 2014 at 12:49 pm

      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.

  • Reply
    livliveslife
    November 6, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    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!

    • Reply
      Lucy
      November 6, 2014 at 9:05 pm

      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.

  • Reply
    Andrew Seal
    November 6, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    Thanks for sharing these photos Lucy. Wish I could go but your photos make up for it. Best wishes 🙂

    • Reply
      Lucy
      November 6, 2014 at 9:04 pm

      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.

  • Reply
    Kathryn Burrington
    November 6, 2014 at 9:37 pm

    I saw them when they were maybe a third along the way with putting the poppies out. From your pictures I can see that it has far more impact now – pretty amazing!

    • Reply
      Lucy
      November 6, 2014 at 11:10 pm

      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!

  • Reply
    Browsing the Atlas
    November 6, 2014 at 10:34 pm

    These are absolutely beautiful! Oh, how I wish I were in London to see this.

    • Reply
      Lucy
      November 6, 2014 at 11:14 pm

      Lovely aren’t they, I only wish I could’ve got down into the moat and seen them close up.

  • Reply
    Ad-lib Traveller
    November 6, 2014 at 10:57 pm

    Incredible, I can’t believe that I’m in London and missed this! Thanks for the photos 🙂

    • Reply
      Lucy
      November 6, 2014 at 11:15 pm

      You’ve got a few days to still see them if you have the chance (and don’t mind the crowds!).

  • Reply
    Cassie | Ever In Transit
    November 6, 2014 at 11:06 pm

    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.

    • Reply
      Lucy
      November 6, 2014 at 11:19 pm

      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.

  • Reply
    bevchen
    November 7, 2014 at 8:55 am

    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.

    • Reply
      Lucy
      November 7, 2014 at 9:57 am

      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.

  • Reply
    Vlad
    November 7, 2014 at 10:08 am

    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. 🙂

    • Reply
      Lucy
      November 7, 2014 at 11:19 pm

      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!

  • Reply
    treats-and-travel
    November 7, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    I visited last month. It is a stunning sight and incredibly moving, particularly where the poppies flow over the moat bridge as captured in your first image. Great pictures.

    • Reply
      Lucy
      November 7, 2014 at 11:21 pm

      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.

  • Reply
    lexklein
    November 7, 2014 at 11:05 pm

    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!)

    • Reply
      Lucy
      November 7, 2014 at 11:28 pm

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

  • Reply
    Reiselykke
    November 8, 2014 at 9:02 am

    Hi Lucy! Stopping by to say ‘hi’ 🙂
    It was so nice meeting you the other evening. Thanks for the tip on seeing this particular sight!

    • Reply
      Lucy
      November 8, 2014 at 7:49 pm

      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.

  • Reply
    Pola
    November 8, 2014 at 11:52 pm

    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…

    • Reply
      Lucy
      November 9, 2014 at 10:27 am

      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.

  • Reply
    Virginia
    November 9, 2014 at 9:42 am

    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!

    • Reply
      Lucy
      November 9, 2014 at 10:29 am

      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!).

  • Reply
    Suzanne Jones
    November 9, 2014 at 6:37 pm

    Fabulous photos Lucy. I saw the installation in October – it’s incredibly moving. As you say though hundreds of people around.

    • Reply
      Lucy
      November 10, 2014 at 9:48 am

      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.

  • Reply
    mlgray117
    November 10, 2014 at 2:57 am

    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.

    • Reply
      Lucy
      November 10, 2014 at 9:49 am

      Thanks so much, it really was beautiful, and such a clever idea.

  • Reply
    thegrownupgapyear
    November 10, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    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…

    • Reply
      Lucy
      November 11, 2014 at 2:02 pm

      It was amazing, though seriously busy, even on a weekday afternoon!

  • Reply
    restlessjo
    November 10, 2014 at 6:28 pm

    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. 🙂

    • Reply
      Lucy
      November 11, 2014 at 1:54 pm

      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.

  • Reply
    Remembering the Great War | Continental Breakfast Travel
    November 11, 2014 at 11:03 am

    […] On The Luce has some fantastic photos of her sunny day at the Tower here. […]

  • Reply
    Francesca (@WorkMomTravels)
    November 12, 2014 at 3:08 am

    What a stunning and important memorial. The pictures are amazing; I can’t imagine how moving and breathtaking it would be to see it in person.

    • Reply
      Lucy
      November 12, 2014 at 12:30 pm

      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.

  • Reply
    Paper Boat Sailor
    November 13, 2014 at 10:51 am

    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.

    • Reply
      Lucy
      November 14, 2014 at 9:31 am

      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.

  • Reply
    greenglobaltravel2
    December 2, 2014 at 3:24 am

    What a beautiful celebration of those who fought in World War I. Lovely photos 🙂

    • Reply
      Lucy
      December 2, 2014 at 10:24 am

      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.

  • Reply
    Isabel
    December 7, 2014 at 8:40 am

    Wow! Your pictures are awesome, I truly felt the beauty of the installation!

    Thank you for that <3

    • Reply
      Lucy
      December 7, 2014 at 8:42 pm

      Thanks, it was such a great idea, it really brought home the scale of the lives lost.

  • Reply
    Marni
    January 23, 2015 at 9:33 pm

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

    • Reply
      Lucy
      January 24, 2015 at 5:33 pm

      Thanks, it was a really inventive and unique way to remember all those lives lost, quite humbling to see.

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