Tower of London marks centenary of the First World War

Tower of London marks centenary of the First World War

The Tower of London from South of the river

6 Feb 2014

Tower of London announces plans to commemorate centenary of the outbreak of First World War

Historic Royal Palaces, the independent charity that cares for the Tower of London, today (06 February 2014) announced plans to mark the centenary anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War through a major art installation and programme of events.

In a collaboration with ceramic artist Paul Cummins and stage designer Tom Piper, an installation of  888,246 ceramic poppies – one for each British and Colonial fatality during the war - will be unveiled on 5 August 2014, one hundred years since the first full day of Britain’s involvement in the First World War.

The poppies, a symbol of remembrance in the UK, will encircle the iconic landmark, creating not only a powerful visual commemoration but also an inspiring setting for performance and educational events, as well as providing a space for personal reflection. The scale of the installation intends to reflect the magnitude of such an important centenary. 

Michael Day, Chief Executive Historic Royal Palaces, said: 
'The First World War was a pivotal moment in our history, claiming the lives of over 16million people across the globe; its consequences have shaped our modern society. It is important for us to ensure that those who lived, fought and served during this time are remembered and we hope that the Tower of London’s involvement during this centenary anniversary will serve as a fitting marker to those who lost their lives, whilst encouraging others to reflect on our past.'

During the First World War the Tower’s moat was used to swear in over 1,600 men who had enlisted by the end of August 1914 at the recruitment station in the City to form the 10th Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers - the so called ‘stockbrokers battalion’ who fought for the duration of the war.
A programme of events will accompany the installation which will remain until 11 am on 11 November 2014.

Notes to editors

Images of the Tower of London are available to download for free to accompany editorial through our image library.

For further information, factsheets and interviews please contact Cat Steventon: or 020 3166 6302

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission cites the upkeep of memorials for 888,246 British and Colonial soldiers killed between 4th August 1914 to 31st August 1921.

Paul Cummins is an international applied artist based in Derby known for his distinctive landscape installations and traditional puncheons. Derby-based Paul Cummins Ceramics has received a £170,000 grant and £280,000 loan from the £20 million Derby Enterprise Growth Fund, run by Derby City Council. The DEGF is part of the Government’s Regional Growth Fund, set up last year to support innovation, expansion and job creation amongst businesses in the Derby and surrounding area through grants and loans.

Tom Piper is an Olivier Award-winning theatre designer, currently Associate Designer at the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Historic Royal Palaces is the independent charity that looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, the Banqueting House, Kensington Palace and Kew Palace.  We help everyone explore the story of how monarchs and people have shaped society, in some of the greatest palaces ever built. We raise all our own funds and depend on the support of our visitors, members, donors, sponsors and volunteers. These palaces are owned by The Queen on behalf of the nation, and we manage them for the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. Registered charity number 1068852. For more information visit

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