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2018 - New Tower Poppy Initiative launched "Beyond the Deepening Shadow"

Three Beafeaters lighting torches and keeping vigil

Tower of London Beefeaters light 10,000 torches in its moat in awe-inspiring tribute to a million British First World War dead ahead of the Armistice centenary - image sourced from the Daily Mail

At the going down of the sun, Tower of London Beefeaters light 10,000 torches in its moat in awe-inspiring tribute to a million British First World War dead ahead of the Armistice centenary

- A Beefeater guard began the lighting ceremony by bringing a flame down from the tower to the moat
- Dozens of representatives of the armed forces and volunteers then ignited thousands of torches
- The ceremony was accompanied by specially commissioned sound installation as well as words from war poet Mary Borden's Sonnets To A Soldier
- Beyond The Deepening Shadow, will be repeated each night until the final showing on Remembrance Sunday

By Robert Hardman for the Daily Mail and Joe Middleton For Mailonline | Published: 4th November 2018 | Updated: 5th November 2018

Head bowed in tribute, a lone Beefeater pays homage to a lost generation in a stunning sea of blazing remembrance.

With the world preparing to mark the centenary of the Armistice and the end of the 'war to end all wars', this was the extraordinary scene at the Tower of London last night (and for every night this week) as Britain lights the flames of commemoration – all 10,000 of them. Four years ago, to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, the moat of the Tower was filled with 888,246 ceramic poppies – one for every man and woman who died serving King and country. Viewed by millions, it proved to be one of the most popular pieces of contemporary and commemorative art ever seen.

To mark 100 years since the day the guns fell silent, the Tower is once again providing a dazzling backdrop to a nation's thoughts of remembrance. Except this time, it is not poppies but flames which are filling the moat each night, until the last ones disappear as Remembrance Sunday draws to a close on November 11. At the start of the war, Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey famously declared: 'The lamps are going out all over Europe.' This vast commemorative exercise represents the moment they came back on again – along with the grief of those who survived to rebuild a shattered world. Last night's opening display of 'Beyond The Deepening Shadow: The Tower Remembers' with a floodlit bugler on the roof of the Middle Tower playing the Last Post and a minute's silence.

Lone Beefeater amongst a dea of flame in the Tower Moat

A small procession of Yeomen Warders – better known as Beefeaters – plus the Constable and the Governor of the Tower formed a guard of honour and the first of the 10,000 torches were ignited by a tri-service trio - image sourced from the Daily Mail

In order to represent past, present and future, yesterday's ceremony was performed by a retired Lieutenant Colonel, a serving midshipman from the Royal Naval Reserve and an air cadet. Out of the shadows, a small battalion of volunteer torch-lighters emerged in pairs. Each night, about a hundred of them have the task of illuminating half a mile of grass-covered moat.

Some turned out to have been volunteers who helped with that great poppy display four years ago. Some had simply read about this venture in the Mail and wanted to be a part of it. Each pair consists of a 'leader' with a magnetic wand who lifts the metal cover off each torch followed by a 'lighter' who carries a blowtorch on the end of a rod. Despite the scale of the exercise, it took only about 20 minutes before the whole moat was ablaze. 'There's the same sort of buzz that there was with the poppies,' said Charlotte Howard, a cook from Hampshire. 'It's a wonderful atmosphere but it does make you remember all those who lost their lives.' Several torch-lighting pairs turned out to be husband and wife, such as Dean and Kerry Rockall, from Bedfordshire. All have been issued with a flame-retardant grey boiler suit (to blend in with the Tower's stonework) and have undergone several hours of training – not just to tick all the health and safety boxes but to ensure they light their designated 'zone' of torches in the correct order. It has all been planned in minute detail by Tom Piper, the designer of the installation. 'We want the flames to spread in "fingers" of light until the whole moat is ablaze,' explained Mr Piper, a theatre designer who also oversaw the great poppy display of 2014 called Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red.

He has arranged the torches at different heights to create a more dramatic effect. 'There is something particularly moving about the processional feel of it all,' he added. Looking down from Tower Hill were large crowds of onlookers, while a lucky few with tickets walked through the moat itself. Historic Royal Palaces (HRP), the charity which runs the Tower, has already sold out of a limited number of £5 tickets to allow people to experience it all at close quarters (including 100 winners of the Mail's competition to award tickets to deserving community nominees). The entire project has been funded by HRP and private sponsors. Since the arts establishment and the National Lottery refused any financial support for the poppies proposal in 2014 (the Guardian even attacked it as a 'Ukip-style' memorial), the Tower has not asked for arts funding this time. The whole experience takes place to the sound of a haunting specially-commissioned choral work recorded by sound artist Mira Calix. Called 'One Lighted Look For Me', it is based on a line from the war poem, Sonnet to a Soldier by Mary Borden, who wrote it while working in a field hospital on the Somme. Smoke wafted over the scene, though this turned out to be dry ice for theatrical effect (the torches use smokeless fuel so do not emit any smoke, fumes or smell).

Even those who have seen plenty of ceremonies found it profoundly stirring. 'We had remembrance parades every week in Afghanistan in honour of our fallen comrades but I found this very emotional too,' said Lt-Col Cathy Braddick-Hughes, 50, formerly of the Adjutant General's Corps, who was one of last night's special guests. Finally, at about 9pm, the torches ran out of fuel at the allotted time and, on cue, began to flicker and fade. Another team of volunteers will arrive this morning to refill each canister, as they will each day until Sunday. Unlike the poppies – which are still on display around the country – the torches will then be taken away for recycling. This mesmerising homage to the fallen will not be repeated. Try to see it while you can.

The Tower illuminated and lit up with the torches in the moat

Image sourced from Secret London

Tower Bridge mysteriously lit overlooking the moat filled with lit torches

Image courtesy & © Reuters

Panorama of illuminated Tower of London and moat filled with torches

Image courtesy & © Peter Macdiarmid/LNP

Three Beafeaters in position to hold vigil in the moat during lighting ceremony

Image sourced from & © PA

Two Beefeaters, one lighting the torches one keeping an eye on proceedings

Source : Sky News

Why the new Tower tribute will set your heart ablaze: Four years after that profoundly emotional sea of poppies, a fiery new spectacle will mark a century since the end of the Great War

By Robert Hardman for the Daily Mail Published: 5th October 2018 | Updated: 6th October 2018

- The grass is immaculate, mown in straight lines to a Wimbledon-standard finish.
- It's odd to think of this vast tract of lawn — nearly half a mile long and 50 yards wide — as a sea of red.
- Yet that was the scene which drew the Queen, the Royal Family, politicians, celebrities and five million members of the public to this spot four years ago.

The poppies at the Tower of London proved to be one of the most powerful and popular pieces of contemporary art this country has ever seen when they filled the great moat in 2014 to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War.

So what on earth is the Tower going to do by way of an encore as we approach November 11 and the centenary of the Armistice of 1918?

There is about to be another show in the moat. However, things are going to be very different this time. And let us hope that, on this occasion, the Government, the arts establishment, the Left and the critics rally round this admirable tribute to the fallen, unlike 2014. Back then, they either ignored or mocked the poppies, only embracing them when they belatedly woke up to the depth of public feeling. I have no doubt the public will be back in great numbers, as contemplative and respectful as before. But next month it will not be poppies at the centre of this vast commemorative exercise but flames.

And, from next Tuesday, Daily Mail readers will have the chance to play a very special part in the proceedings. It was back in the summer of 2014 that artist Paul Cummins started planting 888,246 ceramic poppies in the moat around our most famous fortress — one for every soldier who died for King and country in World War I. He called the installation Blood Swept Lands And Seas Of Red. As more poppies appeared, so the crowds grew, too, along with the number of volunteers wanting to help. This stunning depiction of a lost generation struck an instant chord with much of the country. By the time the last poppy went into the ground on Remembrance Sunday, more than 20,000 volunteers had helped the project's designer, Tom Piper, to install a display which, for days on end, brought the streets around the Tower to a silent, tearful standstill. There was also a short twilight ceremony each night as the Last Post was played and a guest speaker stood amid the poppies reciting names from the Roll of Honour. The names — 180 each night — were nominated in advance by the public. On one evening, an entire village from Derbyshire turned up to hear a list of local lads read out. People flew from Australia and Canada just to be present when a kinsman was being honoured. Everyone wanted to be involved. One night, the organisers invited Helen Mirren to do the honours. Oscar-winning actress she might be but even her voice cracked at times. The only sour note was that those bodies charged with supporting the arts — including the National Lottery — failed to see any merit in the idea. The artist had to take out a high-interest loan to underwrite his brilliant idea, while the Tower's appeals for help from all our main arts organisations were rejected.

There will be no need for that this time, for generous backers have come forward to support what should be a very fitting conclusion to four years of national commemorations. During that time, we have seen poignant parades and services right across the World War I battlefront led by the Royal Family, ministers and Royal British Legion standard-bearers. From Mons to the Somme and Vimy, from the North Sea ceremonies to mark the Battle of Jutland, to a heartbreaking service in memory of the staff and pupils of an East End primary school killed in 1917 during London's first daylight bombing raid, Britain has faithfully honoured the memory of a noble generation who are no longer with us. Now comes the final episode in this great commemorative undertaking, with a series of events planned for next month. Historic Royal Palaces, the charity which runs the Tower of London, has once again teamed up with poppies designer Tom Piper to create a fresh work called Beyond The Deepening Shadow: The Tower Remembers. But whereas the poppies sought to convey monumental loss and sacrifice, this display will be about remembrance — but also forward-looking, too. At the outbreak of war, the Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey grimly declared that 'the lamps are going out all over Europe'. From November 4, on successive nights until November 11 itself, we will see them slowly come back on. Unlike the poppies, this is an idea which has evolved from a long series of collective discussions between the Tower staff and their advisers. Spread throughout the moat of the Tower, roughly three feet apart and at various heights, will be 10,000 torches. The precise number has no particular significance and will simply be determined by the surface area of the moat.

As with the poppies, no one knows for sure what it will look like until it actually happens. The power of this piece will be in the creeping wall of flame as it gradually spreads out until the whole moat is ablaze, while a choral tribute plays throughout. It will begin each evening at 5pm as the Tower is cast in to darkness and a lone bugler plays the Last Post. Then comes what Tom Piper calls the 'ignition'. This, he explains, is as much a part of the spectacle as the end result. 'It will have a strong dramatic element,' says the award-winning theatre designer. Led by the Yeomen Warders of the Tower in their traditional Tudor 'Beefeater' uniforms, a team of 80 volunteers will move outwards from the walls armed with wand-like zappers and begin lighting the torches one by one. We are not talking tea lights. Each will produce a deep orange flame up to a foot tall from a canister the size of a small paint pot. 'One of the things people found most appealing about the poppies was watching the volunteers planting them,' Tom Piper tells me.

At the same time, the specially commissioned choral work will ring out from loudspeakers stretching the length of the moat. Each torch will have enough (alcohol-based) fuel to last precisely four hours in all weathers, whereupon the flames will cease at around 9pm and the Tower will flick the lights back on. As in 2014, large crowds are expected. This time, however, a few lucky members of the public can actually immerse themselves in the display. A limited number of tickets are on sale (for just £5 each), allowing people to enter the moat and walk along a path through this sea of fire from one end to the other — at a safe distance, of course. 'The health and safety manual for this event is this big!' exclaims Commander Debra Whittingham, the Deputy Governor of the Tower, stretching her arms wide. A former Royal Navy officer and the first female Deputy Governor in the Tower's 1,000-year history, Commander Whittingham is in charge of all the practicalities. Her duties extend to deciding on the clothing the volunteer torch-lighters must wear each night. Thankfully, the commander has already vetoed one inevitable demand. Whatever the health and safety commissars may say, there will be no hi-viz jackets. 'We want people dressed appropriately,' she says, adding that a range of dark, weatherproof, flame-retardant kit is being sorted out. She is seeking a pool of 300 volunteers to be part of the torch-lighting programme, and a further 300 to help replenish all the torches the following morning. After the poppy experience, there should be a stampede.

As for the Yeomen Warders, they are very much looking forward to taking part. 'It will be in our own time, so we have asked for volunteers and everyone wants to be part of it,' says Yeoman Gaoler (second-in-command) Bob Loughlin MBE, 63. He joined the Beefeaters at the Tower after 36 years in the RAF Regiment, and well remembers being on duty here during the poppy saga. Most of all, he recalls the evening when he was picked to read out the roll of honour. 'It was just astonishing to hear people in the crowd crying as I was reading out the names,' he recalls. I suggest that some people will, inevitably, be concerned for the ravens. Might not the sudden appearance of ten thousand flames be enough to drive these famous residents away — and thus spell doom for the Tower, the Crown and the nation, as legend foretells? 'Don't worry, the ravens will all be safely tucked up in bed by then,' Bob assures me. There is still much planning to do. Eva Koch-Schulte, creative producer for all the Historic Royal Palaces is presently working out the shape and timings of the torch procession. 'It is all about light seeping out from the shadows and that sense of shared sacrifice,' explains German-born Eva, who has commissioned composer and artist Mira Calix to create the music. Like the title of the display, the words of the choral piece will be based on Sonnets To A Soldier by Mary Borden, a war poet and nurse on the Western Front during World War I who went on to run an ambulance service in World War II. There are going to be major events all over Britain to mark the centenary of the Armistice, including a 'people's parade' at the Cenotaph, and a service of thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey involving the Royal Family and (almost certainly) the President of Germany. But the blazing moat at the Tower will surely be among the most memorable tributes. And this display will also be less financially precarious than the 2014 poppy show. It seems astonishing now, but Paul Cummins risked bankruptcy to create that dazzling Blood Swept Lands And Seas Of Red. The National Lottery, so ready to toss money at any modish tat masquerading as culture, had refused to cough up a bean towards the Tower's costs. Ditto the Arts Council. Perhaps, if Cummins had said he wanted to create a sea of white flags or a giant Tracey Emin bed, it might have found some cash. He might even have been nominated for the Turner Prize. But no. His war-themed work was not worthy of public funding. For good measure, a Guardian columnist weighed in and attacked it as a 'Ukip-style memorial'. Cummins had to take out a hefty loan to get it all off the ground and pay for a ceramic production line, using unemployed youngsters in Derby.

Historic Royal Palaces (which runs the Tower without a penny of public money), agreed to foot the bill for crowd control and logistics. Yet when the time came to take the display down, there was an outcry. The public wanted 'their' poppies to stay. So, a compromise was found. To recoup his costs, Cummins sold the poppies for £25 each, with any profit going to charity. Such was the demand that they generated a whopping £9.5 million for good causes. A group of philanthropists also bought the two most dramatic aspects of his display — 'Wave' and 'Weeping Window', the two great arches of poppies — and gave them to the nation in perpetuity. The then Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, produced a further £2 million to take these two displays on tour around the United Kingdom. They have enjoyed astonishing success, with a further 4.5 million people coming to see them. Tom Piper has spent much of the past four years touring the country re-erecting the poppies at regional sites, and has been bowled over by the reaction to them. He was particularly touched when he took them to Caernarfon Castle where his great-uncle, Lieutenant Arthur Griffiths, is among the thousands of gallant Welshmen listed in the Roll of Honour. 'I felt this very powerful connection,' he says. 'It left me very proud and very moved.' He tells me how Newcastle's Woodhorn mining museum enjoyed a 1,500 per cent increase in visitors when the poppies went on show there. And so it continues. This weekend, Weeping Window has gone on display at the Imperial War Museum in London, while Wave is on show at the IWM North in Manchester. Four years on, Poppy Power is undiminished. The judges of contemporary art's increasingly ludicrous and tawdry Turner Prize might continue to ignore Cummins. Yet, it is a measure of the enduring — almost sacred — status of his work that, to this day, you will not find a single one of those 888,246 original ceramic poppies on eBay.

Fortunately, funding for the flames is already in place. The City of London Corporation and the Charles Wolfson Trust will pay for the torches, and the Tower will sort out everything else. Once the flames have flickered and disappeared for the last time, all the torches will be recycled and the moat will revert to grass again. 'We very much wanted something ephemeral, which is why we have gone for sound and light,' says Eva Koch-Schulte. Amid all our squabbles over Brexit and our 21st-century inter-generational feuds, this will be a moment to pause and reflect on the sacrifice of a generation who never lived to enjoy our freedoms and privileges. It will be spectacular, appropriate and deeply impressive.

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Page updated : 5th November 2017 (G)