888,246 Ceramic Poppies Overtake The Tower of London. See How It Was Done.

tower of london poppies installation Armistice Day IIHIH

As part of a massive art installation commemorating 100 years since the start of the First World War, The Tower of London moat has been transformed into a field of red ceramic poppies. The breathtaking installation by artist Paul Cummins, with setting by stage designer Tom Piper, has drawn massive crowds from across the U.K., as the nation celebrates Armistice Day.

Poppies Overtake Tower of London

Poppies Overtake The Tower of London

artist Paul Cummins
stage designer Tom Piper

“Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red”

Kuriositas reports “Artist Paul Cummins came across a memento mori note while doing research in Chesterfield Library. Soldiers during the war were encouraged by their commanding officers to write these notes in case they were never to return back home. The note Cummins found read: The blood-swept lands and seas of red, where angels fear to tread. Although it was not signed (and perhaps that is appropriate) the first line of the short poem gave the artist the inspiration for the project.”

The Installation

tower of london poppies installation Armistice Day2 IIHIH




poppy arc

poppies at the tower of london


vceramic poppies at tower of london

armistice day tower of london

Poppies Overtake The Tower of London

ceramic poppies armistice day

ceramic poppies tower of londojn

• 888,246 red ceramic poppies. Each poppy represents a British or Commonwealth soldier who was killed during the First World War.
• Each Poppy was handmade by a team of artists participating in the project
• Takes approximately three days for each poppy to be completed, including drying time.
• Over 8,000 volunteers helped with the installation
• The first poppies were planted in August
• The final poppy was planted today, Nov. 11, which is Armistice Day in the U.K.
• Each poppy has already been sold, with part of the proceeds going to six different charities which provide services and support to veterans.

Making The Poppies

ceramic poppies armistice day

The first step in making the poppies was to take the clay, slice the clay, roll the clay out in electronic pressers and then it should be 4mm thick. Stamp the shape out of sheets of clay with cutters, and then a smaller version of the poppy is placed underneath a larger one and a hole is placed in the middle of it, then they’re handed over to have the shape manipulated into a flower. Each poppy takes about three days to create – starting from a block of clay right through to being fired and delivered.The poppies were then mounted on stakes and placed in the ground.

making the poppies

making the poppies

making the poppies


poppies for armistice day

making the poppies

ceramic poppies being made

painted and drying

red ceramic poppy for armistice day

ceramic poppy TOL IIHIH


By Nov. 12, it is estimated that close to four million people will have visited the Tower of London to see the flowers.

Making the poppies:

Installing The poppies:

poppies tower of london

Artist Paul Cummins

Thanks to © Historic Royal Palaces, Kuriositas for some of the amazing photos and CTV News for the stats and  Johnson Tiles ceramics for more pics, info and for their help to complete the ambitious project.

2022 UPDATE:

The installation of iconic poppy sculptures turned out to be London’s most visited of all time. Between 2015 and 2018 two sections of it toured the UK; “Wave” and “Weeping Window” visited 19 locations around and were seen by over 4.6 million people. Weeping Window and Wave have now become part of the Imperial War Museums’ collection.

Lear more here