First World War Centenary: More than 200,000 ceramic poppies sell in under four days for Tower of London installation

More than 880,000 poppies are being 'planted' to represent soldiers killed

Lizzie Dearden
Friday 08 August 2014 16:02 BST
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The art installation ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ by Paul Cummins at the Tower of London
The art installation ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ by Paul Cummins at the Tower of London

More than 200,000 ceramic poppies have sold in less than four days as part of an art installation commemorating the First World War at the Tower of London.

The flowers spill out of the Tower onto the lawn outside and will be spreading around the landmark until all 888,246 are “planted” – one for every British or Commonwealth soldier killed.

A spokesman for the Tower of London said the website and phone hotline for sale had been inundated.

“We are absolutely delighted with the response,” she added.

“It’s such a unique project and it’s not like anything we’ve done before.

“People from all over the world have been showing interest.”

The installation, called 'Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red', will culminate on Remembrance Day in November, when all the poppies are expected to have been planted by more than 8,000 volunteers.

“I'm literally trying to represent people because a number is a number, but if you see it all like this it is a visual idea of how many people were there,” said Paul Cummins, who created the installation.

Money from the flowers, selling for £25 each, is being shared equally between six service charities, including The Royal British Legion, Combat Stress and Help for Heroes.

The installation has raised more than £5 million already and the total is expected to surpass £19 million as people are also being invited to make donations.

The names of 180 killed servicemen and women are being read out every evening at twilight from Tower Hill in a roll of honour, followed by the Last Post.

General the Lord Dannatt, Constable of the Tower of London, said the commemorations hope to engage people to reflect on Britain’s 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,” he added.

Once the poppies handmade for the installation run out, no more will be available to purchase.

The Tower’s longest-serving Yeoman Warder, Crawford Butler, planted the first poppy on 17 June and members of the Royal Family have also visited the exhibition.

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