888,246 Handmade Poppies Surround the Tower of London to Commemorate WWI

The moat that surrounds the Tower of London has long stood empty and dry. This summer, it's getting filled with 888,246 red ceramic poppies, one for each British and Colonial soldiers who perished during World War I.

For the past few weeks, a team of 150 volunteers has been placing red ceramic poppies one by one around the Tower. Crawford Butler, the longest serving Yeoman Warden, also known as beefeater, planted the first ceramic poppy. The last poppy will be symbolically planted on the last day of the installation: November 11, Armistice Day.

888,246 Handmade Poppies Surround the Tower of London to Commemorate WWI

Crawford Butler with the first poppy. AP Photo/Matt Dunham

888,246 Handmade Poppies Surround the Tower of London to Commemorate WWI

AP Photo/Matt Dunham

The artistic minds behind this installation commemorating 100 years since the start of World War I are ceramic artist Paul Cummins and stage designer Tom Piper. Cummins specializes in ceramic flowers, which he makes by shaping on a wheel and then carving by hand. But this project was bigger than ever. Over 50 fifty people worked together to make the nearly million ceramic poppies.

The installation's name, Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, also comes from Cummins. He, in turn, borrowed it from will of an anonymous man who died in Flanders. "I don't know his name or where he was buried or anything about him," Cummins told the Guardian, "But this line he wrote, when everyone he knew was dead and everywhere around him was covered in blood, jumped out at me: 'The blood-swept lands and seas of red, where angels fear to tread.'"

At the Tower of London, the poppies spill like blood from a wall, flowing down to flood the moat. Each evening, the Last Post will be sounded and a selection of names of the dead read out loud. It's stunning and sobering commemoration that befits the Great War. [Colossal]

888,246 Handmade Poppies Surround the Tower of London to Commemorate WWI

888,246 Handmade Poppies Surround the Tower of London to Commemorate WWI

888,246 Handmade Poppies Surround the Tower of London to Commemorate WWI

Top photo and all others, unless otherwise credited, via Historic Royal Palaces