Rather than come straight home last night, we decided to stay over and go to the Tower of London this morning. We weren’t intending to go inside but were eager to see the poppy installation for ourselves. I know that several friends who have bought poppies won’t necessarily be able to visit the Tower, so I’ll try to share what it was like this morning.
Walking from Tower Hill tube station, the first sight of the poppies in the moat is pretty spectacular. We’d seen photographs of course and heard people tell of how moving the whole scene is. But really, nothing prepared us for seeing it first hand.
We walked around the whole moat, though try as I might, it’s impossible to capture the spectacle fully.
Each poppy is different. Most are of similar height but there are tall ones and I guess, there are shorter ones too. Or perhaps the stems are simply “planted” at different levels? Whatever, the effect is of hundreds of thousands of individual flowers rather than one massive group.
Walking anti-clockwise, the sea continues around the corner with the same broad sweep of red. That was when we first grasped the enormity of the whole thing.
We enjoyed how the flowers flowed out of the window but also around the moat in gentle curves.
Now and again, there was an information panel on the fence with a single poppy to see close up. I don’t know if they will be sent without the stem – I hadn’t thought of it until now, but suspect that might be so?
Around the next corner, walking parallel to the river now, towards Tower Bridge, there was another “gush” of red, forming an arch over the visitors pouring in through the entrance gate. That was most effective.
Then, along this quieter side of the Tower, the river of red narrowed to more of a small stream. Perhaps this part of the moat will be filled as we get closer to November 11th? In particular, we both wondered what those few poppies were doing in that little roped off area under the wall?
In this less densely “planted” area, it was easier to appreciate the single poppies, I thought.
Then, turning the corner again, having crossed under Tower Bridge and turned left back towards the Tube station, the dense red sea appeared once more. This side seemed to be more heavily planted than anywhere, though those sweeps and shapes which appear in the mass are so well thought through. Clearly things are set out to a plan and this is not some random arrangement.
Another tumble of flowers from the top of the wall on this side, too. At this point, we were overwhelmed by the sheer numbers – even though there’s still over a month to go and there will be many more poppies to come.
Almost back to where we began, we marvelled at the spectacle.
Such an extraordinary concept and yet so brilliant. How clever to create a memorial that can be freely visited by so many, understood by children and adults alike and provoke so much interest, too. As we returned to the tube, people were streaming from the station in their hundreds, many, like us, coming simply to take a look for themselves.
And to remember, of course.