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Her Majesty The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh visit the Tower of London

On Thursday 16 October 2014, Her Majesty The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh visited the Tower of London's 'Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red' poppy installation and attended a service in the iconic fortress’ newly refurbished Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula.

Her Majesty and The Duke of Edinburgh were greeted by General the Lord Dannatt, Constable of the Tower of London and Colonel Richard Harrold, Governor of the Tower of London who surrendered their ceremonial Keys of Office to The Queen. A wreath of poppies was then presented to The Queen by Yeoman Warder Jim Duncan and an opportunity to see the installation followed where members of the project team, Deputy Governor of the Tower of London, Colonel John Brown, ceramic artist, Paul Cummins, designer, Tom Piper, and Head of Creative Programming, Deborah Shaw, were introduced.

The Royal party then went on to the chapel where they were met by the Lieutenant of the Tower, Lieutenant General Peter Pearson, Chairman of Historic Royal Palaces, Charles Mackay, Chief Executive of Historic Royal Palaces, Michael Day, Chaplain of the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula, Reverend Canon Roger Hall and The Bishop of London, The Rt Revd & Rt Hon Richard Chartres. A service of thanksgiving to celebrate the restoration and conservation of the chapel was led by the Chaplain with an address by The Bishop of London. The Queen then viewed the restoration and conservation work undertaken in the chapel’s crypt.

Before departing the Tower Her Majesty was presented with a posy of flowers by five-year-old Ashlynne Kingshott.

The Tower of London Remembers: Poppies project

Historic Royal Palaces, the independent charity that cares for the Tower of London, has been marking the centenary anniversary of the First World War by installing over 800,000 ceramic poppies into the dry moat to create a major art installation. The first poppy was planted on 17th July 2014 by one of the Tower of London's Yeoman Warders and the evolving installation by ceramic artist Paul Cummins, with setting by stage designer Tom Piper, was officially unveiled on the 05 August 2014, one hundred years since the first full day of Britain’s involvement in the First World War. In total, 888,246 ceramic poppies will be planted in the moat, one for each British and Colonial fatality during the First World War. A team of over 16,000 volunteers from across the UK have helped to install the poppies so far, with the last one being planted on Armistice Day, 11th November 2014.

Each poppy is available to buy for £25 (+p&p) with 10% from each poppy, plus all net proceeds which we hope will amount to millions of pounds if all poppies are sold, due to be shared equally amongst six service charities. The charities chosen are Confederation of Service Charities (COBSEO), Combat Stress, Coming Home, Help for Heroes, Royal British Legion and SSAFA (formerly the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association).

Members of the public are invited to document their involvement and witness the project evolve via Historic Royal Palaces’s social media channels on Facebook or on Twitter (@HRP_Palaces #TowerPoppies).

The Chapel appeal and restoration

The Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula dates from the early 1500s. In October 2013 The Rt Rev Richard Chartres and the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, now Cardinal, launched the 1535 Society to raise awareness and funds for the Chapel appeal. In order to present the Chapel in a way which befits its Royal status and historical significance, £1.5million has been raised to lift its appearance, tell its stories, improve its functionality as a parish church and ensure the continuation of music-making.

Many of the historic monuments have undergone extensive conservation and cleaning following analysis and research. Ecclesiastical furnishings and subtle interventions have been added to convey the importance of the Chapel and all furniture has been replaced with new bespoke items. This area is now functioning as an atmospheric and inspiring meeting space for local community and youth groups in addition to serving the necessary business of church-life such as wedding and baptism preparations.

As a site of pilgrimage for Catholics worldwide, the Crypt of St Thomas More has been redecorated and re-ordered in order to make it a fitting resting place for the Saint as well as somewhere small groups can learn about his story.

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