Tower of London Moat Converted to “Sea” of Poppies for WWI Centenary

The Tower of London moat will become a “sea” of poppies this summer to commemorate the 100th year anniversary of the beginning of the First World War.

A total of 888, 246 ceramic poppies, one for each British and Colonial soldier killed in that said war, were hand made for the said occasion according to The Telegraph in a WWI Centenary project called Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red. The dry moat of the Tower of London will turn literally into a sea of red ceramic flowers as these handcrafted blossoms are placed in it.

The poppies to be placed in the Tower of London moat are made by 50 potters at the Derby studio of Paul Cummins. They were asked to hand-made the pieces in techniques which were utilized by potters during the First World War, This means that each ceramic poppy is unique and individualized. As of this writing, he and his helpers have, so far, made around 500,000 ceramic poppies.

The name for the said First World War commemoration project in the Tower of London was also Mr. Cummins’ idea. He took it from the will written by one of the soldiers from his own hometown, Derby. He said that in those days, soldiers had to write down wills for if they didn’t, their properties wouldn’t get passed to their loved ones.

He further stated that he got the name while reading through the wills archive of WWI soldiers and came across one written by a man who said all who he knew have died because of the war. One line in his writing had stated, “blood swept lands and seas of red, where angels dare to thread”.

The Constable of the Tower of London, General Sir Richard Dannatt, for his part believe that the placing of ceramic poppies in the Tower of London moat will be a personal and epic commemoration for those soldiers who laid down their lives for the cause of the war. He also added that filling the Tower of London moat with the red ceramic poppies will be an amazingly fitting remembrance for those dead WWI servicemen as the Tower of London played a role in the war. 1,600 men took their oath of allegiance in the moat in August 1914. His only hope that the putting of the red poppies in the moat will be the iconic image of this year’s summer.

The Tower of London and its now dry moat which will be filled with almost 900,000 red ceramic poppies for the commemoration of the WWI Centenary.
The Tower of London and its now dry moat which will be filled with almost 900,000 red ceramic poppies for the commemoration of the WWI Centenary.

The installation itself was designed by Tom Piper who is an Olivier Award-winning theater designer currently working in the Royal Shakespeare Company. According to him, as they deduced that it will take one person three years and six months to place all the poppies in the moat, they have 150 volunteers to do that throughout the course of the installation which will be in two weeks.

As part of the Tower of London moat project, a mound will also be put up in the moat. Here the Last Post will be sounded at dusk everyday followed by the reading of several chosen names of those who died during the said war. Relatives of WWI soldiers who died will also be able to request the reading of their ancestor’s name at a particular day so that they can be there when it is done and will be able to pay their respects.

When the poppies are taken down from the moat of the Tower of London in November, the poppies will be sold at £25 apiece. If all of them get purchased, the sale will amount to £15 million which will, in turn, be distributed between six various charities for the armed forces including the Royal British Legion and Help For Heroes.

Details for buying the poppies will be posted near the time of their taking down from the Tower of London moat in

Heziel Pitogo

Heziel Pitogo is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE