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Armistice 100: Thousands of flames light up Tower of London moat

PUBLISHED: 16:00 05 November 2018 | UPDATED: 16:34 05 November 2018

The first of thousands of flames in the dry moat of the Tower of London. Picture: John Stillwell/PA Wire

The first of thousands of flames in the dry moat of the Tower of London. Picture: John Stillwell/PA Wire

Around 10,000 flames have filled the empty moat around the Tower of London to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War.

Yeoman Warders, or Beefeaters, lighting the first of thousands of flames in a lighting ceremony in the dry moat of the Tower of London. Picture: John Stillwell/PA WireYeoman Warders, or Beefeaters, lighting the first of thousands of flames in a lighting ceremony in the dry moat of the Tower of London. Picture: John Stillwell/PA Wire

A ceremonial Beefeater guard began the lighting ceremony yesterday (Sunday) by bringing a flame down from the tower into the moat, which had been submerged in smoke.

Dozens of representatives from the armed forces and volunteers then used the flame to ignite thousands of other torches staked into or placed on the ground underneath the tower, bathing the barren moat in light.

Midshipman Balraj Dhanda of the Royal Navy, a volunteer who helped light the flames, described the spectacle as “really, really powerful”.

“I think it creates the right atmosphere for people to have their own personal reflections and gives people time with their own thoughts,” he added.

A Yeoman Warder, or Beefeater, stands amongst the first of thousands of lit flames. Picture: John Stillwell/PA WireA Yeoman Warder, or Beefeater, stands amongst the first of thousands of lit flames. Picture: John Stillwell/PA Wire

It took around 45 minutes to light the flames, which then burn for roughly four hours.

The ceremony was accompanied by a specially commissioned sound installation featuring choral music, as well as words from war poet Mary Borden’s Sonnets To A Soldier.

The ceremony was “amazing”, according to Dick Harrold, governor of the Tower of London.

He added: “What is so special about it is it means many different things.

Thousands of flames in the dry moat of the Tower of London as part of an installation called Beyond the Deepening Shadow: The Tower Remembers, to mark the centenary of the end of First World War. Picture: John Stillwell/PA WireThousands of flames in the dry moat of the Tower of London as part of an installation called Beyond the Deepening Shadow: The Tower Remembers, to mark the centenary of the end of First World War. Picture: John Stillwell/PA Wire

“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.”

The success of the 2014 display of poppies at the tower meant Historic Royal Palaces, who maintain the landmark, were keen to mark the centenary of Armistice.

He added: “But, of course, we couldn’t do poppies again.”

Spectators gathered on vantage points around the tower to witness the spectacle.

A minute’s silence was also observed.

The free ceremony, named Beyond The Deepening Shadow, will be repeated each night until the final showing on Remembrance Sunday.

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