To mark 100 years since the end of World War One, the Tower of London is being lit by thousands of torches between now and Remembrance Sunday.
10,000 torches have been placed at the foot of the Tower’s walls and throughout its dry moat, and each evening a ceremonial Beefeater will begin the lighting of the torches by bringing a flame down from the Tower.
Last night, November 4, was the first ceremony, which will be repeated every night between now and Remembrance Sunday on November 11. It takes around 45 minutes for the thousands of torches to be lit, and they burn for four hours. A minute’s silence was also held during last night’s ceremony.
During the ceremony, which is called Beyond the Deepening Shadow, members and representatives of the armed forces, along with a number of volunteers, are among the team who light the torches every night.
One of the volunteers, Midshipman Balraj Dhanda of the Royal Navy, told The Guardian:
I think it creates the right atmosphere for people to have their own personal reflections, and gives people time with their own thoughts.
Watch Peter Jackson’s They Shall Not Grow Old on BBC TWO, 9.30pm on Sunday November 11:
Many spectators gathered around the tower to observe the ceremony, which was accompanied by a specially commissioned piece of choral music, using words and phrases from war poet Mary Borden’s Sonnets To A Solider.
Dick Harrold, governor of the Tower of London, said:
What is so special about it is that it means many different things. The message with the sound is not focused so much on those that were lost, but those that were left behind – the bereaved and others who were affected by war.
In 2014, thousands of ceramic red poppies were placed outside the tower to commemorate the centenary of the start of the First World War. Historic Royal Palaces, which manages the monument, were keen to replicate the display’s poignancy and success.
After the four-month installation outside the Tower of London, sculptures and artwork from the poppy display have been touring Britain ever since. Together, more than 9 million people have seen the display, which is currently on show for the final time at the Imperial War Museums in Manchester and London.
Historic Royal Palaces describes the new torch display as:
As the nation commemorates the centenary of the end of the First World War, a new installation at the Tower of London, Beyond the Deepening Shadow: The Tower Remembers will fill the moat with thousands of individual flames: a public act of remembrance for the lives of the fallen, honouring their sacrifice.
Beyond the Deepening Shadow is an evolving installation, which will unfold each evening over the course of four hours, between 17:00 and 21:00 each evening, with the Tower moat gradually illuminated by individual flames.
The unfolding visual spectacle will be accompanied by a specially-commissioned sound installation; a sonic exploration of the shifting tide of political alliances, friendship, love and loss in war.
At the centre of the sound installation lies a new choral work, with words from War Poet Mary Borden’s Sonnets to a Soldier.
Members of the public are invited to return to the Tower of London to see the installation evolve each night, and to join in this public act of commemoration.
It’s certainly a moving tribute for such a historic occasion.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.