If you find yourself in London before 11 November this year, you absolutely must make a trip to the Tower of London to see the remarkable installation of 888,246 ceramic poppies. Each of these poppies represents a British soldier killed in the Great War.
They fill three sides of the moat and flow dramatically from one Tower's openings.
Entitled Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, these hand made poppies assemble together in the moat, formerly a place used as a recruiting and training station for soldiers that would become men of the 10th (‘Stockbrokers’) Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment).
The battalion was raised by Major the Hon. R. White at the suggestion of Sir Henry Rawlinson, Director of Recruiting. In a letter dated 12 August 1914, he wrote: 'Many City employees would be willing to enlist if they were assured that they would serve with their friends'.
These poppies are in fact up for sale. If each one were to be sold, more than £15 million pounds will be raised for the charities Confederation of Service Charities (COBSEO), Combat Stress, Coming Home, Help for Heroes, The Royal British Legion and SSAFA (formerly the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association). I bought two earlier this month and hear they are selling quickly.
My only criticism of this grand piece of art is that there are no boards describing the installation, its meaning or context. Many visitors are aware of the symbolic meaning and are struck by it, but perhaps not the wider work of the Tower during the First World War.
It's fantastic that the Centenary has produced such wonderful and dramatic commemorations of the Great War. This is a must see.
To find out more follow the link and see some of my photos below: http://poppies.hrp.org.uk/