British Army Scots Guards F Coy, Tower of London WWI Commemorations (Crown Copyright, 2018) [880]

Tower of London WWI Commemoration

‘Beyond the Deepening Shadow: The Tower Remembers’ Commemorative Art Installation at the Tower of London

This November, 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, 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’.

‘Sonnets to a Soldier’ by Forgotten Female War Poet

At the heart of the Tower of London event to mark the centenary of Armistice Day is the reading of a love poem written by Mary Borden, an American author, heiress, suffragette and nurse, described as the “great forgotten voice of the First World War”.

Whilst in a field hospital in 1916, she met a young British officer, Louis Spears, and fell in love. It is to Spears that the poem is addressed, speaking of her fears. The poem begins, ‘If you this very night should ride to death’. Spears survived the war and the two were married.

   Sonnet--To a Soldier--

   If you this very night should ride to death
   Straight from the piteous passion of my arms;
   If you still breathing in the sobbing breath
   Of my desire, still faint with my alarms
   Should come upon the vast immensity
   Of nothingness, my last poor trembling kiss
   Upon your lips, should face eternity
   And gaze full conscious into the abyss;
   You would not falter at the last my friend
   Nor put to shame your clear courageous mind
   Under the menace of the desolate end;
   But with one lighted look for me, behind,
   You'd take the leap, with a last challenge, cry
   That there is no beyond, and thus superbly, die--

Procession Led by the Yeoman Warders of the Tower of London

‘Beyond the Deepening Shadow’ will begin with a procession led by the Yeoman Warders of the Tower of London. Emerging from the fortress, the Yeoman Warders – themselves all distinguished former servicemen and women – will ceremonially light the first flame. In a moving ritual, a select team of volunteers will then proceed to light the rest of the installation, gradually creating a circle of light, radiating from the Tower as a powerful symbol of remembrance. The display will conclude at 9pm every evening.

Members of the public are invited to the Tower of London to see the installation evolve each night, and to join in this public act of commemoration. The installation will be free to view from Tower Hill and the Tower concourse. Special ticketed access will also be provided to the Moat itself, for members of the public to experience the intimate and sensory sound installation and to see ‘Beyond the Deepening Shadow’ up-close.

Commissioned and produced by Historic Royal Palaces, this new light and sound installation brings together a talented creative team, including designer Tom Piper, Sound Artist and Composer Mira Calix, Lighting Designer Phil Supple and fire expert Mike Jones.

‘Beyond the Deepening Shadow: The Tower Remembers’ will run from 4 – 11 November, for eight nights up to and including Armistice Day 2018.


Source: MOD

Image: Drummer Steven Brown from F Company Scots Guards lights a torch at the start of the service by Sgt Paul Randall RLC (Crown Copyright, 2018).