Thousands of flames used to mark end of First World War centenary

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

A ceremonial Beefeater guard began the lighting ceremony 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.

“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.

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.

The first of thousands of flames in the dry moat of the Tower of London
The first of thousands of flames in the dry moat of the Tower of London (John Stillwell/PA)

“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.

Beefeaters lighting the first of thousands of flames
Beefeaters lighting the first of thousands of flames (John Stillwell/PA)

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

Members of the public can watch the spectacle for free.

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