Tower of London’s longest serving Yeoman Warder plants first poppy in major centenary commemoration
The evolving installation by ceramic artist Paul Cummins, with setting by stage designer Tom Piper, will officially be unveiled on 5 August 2014; one hundred years since the first full day of Britain’s involvement in the First World War.
Entitled ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ the installation is being created in the Tower’s famous dry moat and will continue to grow throughout the summer until the moat is filled with 888,246 ceramic poppies, each poppy representing a British military fatality during the war.
A symbol of remembrance in the UK, the poppies will encircle the iconic landmark, creating not only a spectacular display visible from all around the Tower, but also an inspiring setting for learning activities, as well as providing a location for personal reflection. The scale of the installation intends to reflect the magnitude of such an important centenary creating a powerful visual commemoration.
The poppies will be installed by a team of over 8,000 volunteers from across the UK and the last poppy will be planted on Armistice Day, 11 November 2014.
Each poppy will be available to buy for £25 (+p&p) from 5 August 2014. 10% from each poppy, plus all net proceeds which we hope will amount to millions of pounds if all poppies are sold, will be shared equally amongst six service charities. The charities chosen are Confederation of Service Charities (COBSEO), Combat Stress, Coming Home, Help for Heroes, Royal British Legion and SSAFA (formerly the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association).
Throughout the installation period (05 August to 11 November) at twilight, the public will be able to witness from Tower Hill terrace the names of 180 serving military killed during the First World War being read out in a roll of honour. This will be followed by the ‘Last Post’ bugle call played by a single bugler. Members of the public can nominate a name for the roll of honour using a weekly ‘first come, first served’ nomination system which will allow those with the relevant information to put a name forward for the roll of honour to be read the following week.
Volunteers and members of the public are invited to document their involvement and witness the project evolve via Historic Royal Palaces’s social media channels on Facebook or on Twitter and Instagram using #TowerPoppies.
Members of the public can express their interest in volunteering opportunities; find out more about nominating a name for the roll of honour or register interest to purchase a poppy by visiting the website.
General the Lord Dannatt, Constable of the Tower of London, said:
'For this important anniversary year, we wanted the Tower of London’s commemorations to serve as a fitting tribute to those who lost their lives during the First World War, whilst encouraging others to reflect on our past. The First World War was a pivotal moment in our history, claiming the lives of over 16 million people across the globe; its consequences have shaped our modern society. We hope that people across Britain, Europe and the rest of the world will join us by being a part of this unique moment which we feel reflects the magnitude of this centenary year.'
Historic Royal Palaces, the independent charity that cares for the Tower of London, are grateful to Catlin Group Ltd and Santander UK plc for their support on this project as Premier Partners of the Tower of London.
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There will be 888,246 poppies installed, one for each British and Colonial fatality during the war. 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 ceramic artist with a passion for hand building ceramic pieces inspired by nature. His interest in line and form is influenced by a background in architecture, having studied at St Martins and Sheffield. Over the last ten years, Paul has worked on over thirty commissions, and exhibited all over the world, from Hong Kong to the USA to Russia. He has created large-scale installations for Chatsworth House, Derby Royal Hospital, the Alscot Estate, Blenheim Palace and the Conran Shop.
Paul was inspired to produce a ceramic poppy to honour every death in the British forces of the First World War.
Tom has been Associate Designer for the Royal Shakespeare Company since 2004, and was closely involved in the redevelopment of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. His theatre credits include over 30 productions for the RSC, including the award-winning History series, The Libertine (Citizens Theatre), The Big Meal (Ustinov Studio Theatre), Red Velvet (Tricycle Theatre and St Ann's Warehouse, Brooklyn), Pride and Prejudice (Regent's Park Theatre) and Zorro the Musical (West End and world tour). Piper's opera credits include Macbeth and Falstaff for Scottish Opera.
Tom is a Creative Associate at the Tricycle Theatre and mentors the RSC Assistant Designer scheme. His many awards include an Olivier Award (costume design) for the Histories series.
Tom collaborated with the British Museum and Alan Farlie Architects on the exhibition Shakespeare: Staging the World in 2012 as part of the Cultural Olympiad.
The Tower Remembers project has generously been supported by a number of organisations including;
Catlin Group Ltd
Derby Enterprise Fund
Santander UK plc
Sarah Symington Catering
Squire’s Garden Centres
Stewarts Law LLP and The Stewarts Law Foundation
Founded in 1919, Combat Stress is the UK’s leading military charity specialising in the care of Veterans’ mental health. In 2014 Combat Stress will mark its 95th anniversary, having helped more than 100,000 Veterans to rebuild their lives. Combat Stress is currently supporting more than 5,400 ex-Service men and women – more than at any time in our long history. This includes 806 Veterans who served in Iraq and 519 who served in Afghanistan. Our youngest Veteran is just 18 years old. Demand for our services is rising: 1,700 Veterans contacted us for help in 2012-2013. On average it takes more than 13 years from Service discharge for Veterans to contact Combat Stress for help, by which time their condition is often highly complex.We treat conditions including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression and anxiety. To help Veterans rebuild their lives, we provide a range of free services. Combat Stress, also known as the Ex-Services Mental Welfare Society, Registered Charity 206002; Registered Charity in Scotland SCO38828; Company Ltd by guarantee: 256353.
Cobseo, as the Confederation of Service Charities, brings the Armed Forces charity community together and provides a single point of contact for interaction with Government, including the Devolved Administrations, local government, the private sector and the Royal Household as well as other members of the Armed Forces community. Through this interaction Cobseo encourages charities to be more efficient and effective and thereby to deliver an enhanced level of support to their beneficiaries. For more information about Cobseo, visit their website: www.cobseo.org.uk.
Coming Home is the fundraising campaign for Haig Housing Trust, which provides housing for ex-Servicemen and their families throughout the UK. Coming Home specifically raises funds to provide specially adapted homes for Servicemen or women who have been seriously wounded or injured, giving them a stable platform from which they can begin to rebuild their lives. Registered charity number 1125556. For more information visit www.coming-home.org.uk
Help for Heroes offers comprehensive support to those who have suffered life-changing injuries and illnesses whilst serving our country. This is provided through grants to individuals, other Service charities, capital build projects and our four Recovery Centres across the UK which will offer support for life.
The money raised by the hugely generous public has been used to support our wounded, but there is still so much more to do. Soldiers, sailors and airmen who are injured today will still need our support tomorrow and in the days that follow, for the rest of their lives. They are still battling and we won't let them battle alone.For more information about Help for Heroes, please visit www.helpforheroes.org.uk
The Royal British Legion stands shoulder to shoulder with all who serve. It is the nation's leading Armed Forces charity providing care and support to all members of the British Armed Forces past and present and their families. It is also the national Custodian of Remembrance and safeguards the Military Covenant between the nation and its Armed Forces. It is best known for the annual Poppy Appeal and its emblem, the red poppy. www.britishlegion.org.uk
SSAFA, formerly the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association, provides lifelong support to anyone who is currently serving or has ever served in the Royal Navy, British Army or Royal Air Force and their families.
SSAFA is the oldest national tri-service military charity still operating today and has been supporting service personnel and their families since 1885. In 1914 alone, SSAFA helped over one million families who were left to face destitution on the Homefront while the men went to war. Today, our professional staff and network of 7,500 volunteers help more than 50,000 people every year, ranging from World War Two veterans to the families of young servicemen and women wounded in Afghanistan. We also provide health and social care services for the Armed Forces and their families in 13 countries around the world. For more information visit www.ssafa.org.uk
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 www.hrp.org.uk