Tower of London remembers

WWI centenary commemorations at the Tower of London

WWI centenary commemorations at the Tower of London

First World War centenary

In 2014 the Tower of London marked the centenary of the outbreak of The First World War (WWI) with the commemorative art installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, which saw the moat filled with thousands of ceramic poppies.

In 2018 the Tower once again became a site of commemoration, marking 100 years since the end of WWI with Beyond the Deepening Shadow. The nightly candle lighting ceremony in the moat was led by the Yeoman Warders and created a circle of light radiating from the Tower as a symbol of remembrance.

Both commemorative events at the Tower were part of the world-wide, First World War centenary commemorations that began on 28 July 2014 and ended on 11 November 2018.

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red

The major art installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red at the Tower of London marked one hundred years since the first full day of Britain's involvement in the First World War.

Created by artists Paul Cummins and Tom Piper, 888,246 ceramic poppies progressively filled the Tower's famous moat between July and November 2014.

21,688 people volunteered to install the poppies. Each poppy represented a British military fatality during the war.

A view of the over 800,000 ceramic poppies, including "the Wave" that appeared around the Tower of London over the summer of 2014 to form a major art installation marking the centenary of the First World War

Poppies fill the Tower moat

The poppies encircled the Tower, creating not only a spectacular display visible from all around the Tower, but also a location for personal reflection.


The scale of the installation was intended to reflect the magnitude of such an important centenary and create a powerful visual commemoration.


Each day in the moat at sunset, names of 180 Commonwealth troops killed during the war were read out as part of a Roll of Honour, followed by the Last Post.


Members of the public nominated names for the Roll of Honour using a weekly ‘first come, first served’ nomination system to be read the following week in this nightly ceremony.

The making of the poppies

All of the 888,246 ceramic poppies were handmade by a team of artists and people with links to the British Armed Forces.

Paul Cummins, artist and creator of the installation, oversaw the making of the poppies, which took place in a large industrial space in Derby - a town with a rich industrial history, reflecting the artist's desire to make the poppies using techniques that would have been used one hundred years ago. 

On 17 July 2014, Yeoman Serjeant Crawford Butler, then Tower of London's longest serving Yeoman Warder, planted the first of over 800,000 ceramic poppies that appeared around the famous landmark over the summer of 2014 to form a major art installation marking the centenary of the First World War. Yeoman Serjeant Crawford Butler with Yeomen Warders John Donald and Andrew Merry, each holding a ceramic poppy.

The role of the Yeoman Warders

The Yeoman Warders played an important part in the installation of the poppies in the moat and their involvement had personal significance - each member of the Yeoman Body has served in one of the British Armed Forces.

A site of remembrance and reflection

The Tower of London has a unique place in the history of WWI. On the outbreak of war, many men formed battalions with their friends, known as PALS battalions.

The Tower of London was involved in the formation of one of the first of the friends battalions, with many regiments training at the Tower before making their way to the Western Front.

Where did the poppies go?

All of the poppies that made up the installation were sold, raising millions of pounds which were shared equally amongst six service charities.

Dedications

Five million people from countries around the world travelled to the Tower of London to see the poppies. 

A special dedications page was created in honour of a loved one who may have previously served in the military or those who were still engaged in military service.

View the dedications made as part of the Tower of London Remembers project.

Beyond the Deepening Shadow: The Tower Remembers

In November 2018, thousands of flames were lit in the moat of the Tower of London to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War.


This new installation, created by Designer Tom Piper and Sound Artist Mira Calix, saw the moat lit with thousands of individual flames; a public act of remembrance for the lives of the fallen, honouring their sacrifice.


Members of the public were invited to the Tower of London to see the installation evolve each night, and to join in a public act of commemoration.

The Tower Moat, showing Yeoman Warder Andy Shedden lighting an Armistice torch as part of his ceremonial duty at the "Beyond the Deepening Shadow" public event. 

“Beyond the Deepening Shadow: The Tower Remembers” was a public act of remembrance to commemorate the centenary of the end of the First World War.

Each evening from 4 to 11 November 2018 the Tower moat was illuminated by 10,000 individual flames. The artistic installation included an exploration in sound of wartime alliances, friendship, love and loss. Beginning with a procession led by the Yeoman Warders, Armistice torches were lit to form a circle of light radiating from the Tower. A symbol of remembrance for the hundreds of thousands who died in the Great War.

Lighting the first flame

Each evening, over the course of four hours, the Tower moat became illuminated by individual flames. The Yeoman warders, themselves all distinguished former servicemen and women, ceremonially lit the first flame.

A powerful symbol of remembrance

In a moving ritual, a team of volunteers lit the rest of the installation, gradually creating a circle of light, radiating from the Tower as a powerful symbol of remembrance. 

The unfolding visual spectacle was accompanied by a specially-commissioned sound installation; a sonic exploration of the shifting tide of political alliances, friendship, love and loss in war.

Artist Mira Calix created a new choral work for the installation, One lighted look for me, with words from the War Poet, Mary Borden’s Sonnets to a Soldier.

A close view of the flames (Armistice torches) at the "Beyond the Deepening Shadow" public event. 

“Beyond the Deepening Shadow: The Tower Remembers” was a public act of remembrance to commemorate the centenary of the end of the First World War.

Each evening from 4 to 11 November 2018 the Tower moat was illuminated by 10,000 individual flames. The artistic installation included an exploration in sound of wartime alliances, friendship, love and loss. Beginning with a procession led by the Yeoman Warders, Armistice torches were lit to form a circle of light radiating from the Tower. A symbol of remembrance for the hundreds of thousands who died in the Great War.

"They do not know that in this shadowed place It is your light they see upon my face."

Mary Borden, Sonnets to a Soldier.

Beyond the Deepening Shadow: The Tower Remembers

In this film, we look back on Beyond the Deepening Shadow: The Tower Remembers and reflect on the commemorations.

Remembering WWI: The 2014-2018 Centenary commemorations

The First World War was the first global conflict, 'A war to end all wars.' Over 30 countries joined the war between 1914-1918.

Fighting occurred not only in Europe on the 'Western Front', but in south eastern and eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

An estimated 37 million people, military personnel and civilians, lost their lives.
The 2014-2018 First World War Centenary commemorations were a world-wide act of remembrance to honour and remember those who lost their lives in the Great War.

Why do we remember WWI?

Watch the animation

After 100 years, stories of the First World War are fading from memory. How can we keep them alive? 

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