Every Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday, Britain becomes awash with poignant and impressive displays to remember our brave ancestors who gave their lives in war.
And this year, the centenary of World War I, no expense has been spared.
Across the length and breadth of the country, local communities have pulled together and created displays to remember our fallen heroes that are enthralling and evocative in equal measure.
From knitting clubs to primary schools, people have seized the moment to craft home-made poppies of every size, colour and material. (And if you want to knit your own, be sure to check out our tips below.)
Every Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday, Britain becomes awash with poignant and impressive displays to remember our brave ancestors who gave their lives in war (St Peter’s Church in Sudbury)
This impressive cascade of 23,000 poppies adorns St Peter’s Church in Sudbury, Suffolk for the centenary of World War I
Wondrous home-made poppies have risen up in front gardens, majestic castles and imposing war memorials.
Often inspired by the breathtaking ceramic poppies that filled the moat of the Tower of London in 2014 and made our country proud, volunteers have pitched in to answer the Royal British Legion’s call to say a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to all from the World War I generation who served, sacrificed and changed our world.
Inside St Peter Mancroft Church in Norwich, for example, local crafting groups have knitted and crocheted more than 15,000 poppies — each representing a fallen soldier named on a Norfolk war memorial.
In Wincanton, Somerset, volunteers have conjured up an immense 8ft high glass memorial that holds 1,115,571 poppies — with the names of every Commonwealth serviceman and woman killed or missing in action carefully hand-written on individual blooms.
Hertfordshire: Marge Ellis, one of the Secret Society of Hertford Crafters, with the cascade of more than 15,000 knitted poppies at Hertford Castle
Essex: A poignant garden creation of a WW1 tank on display in the gardens of Colchester Castle in Essex to make the 100th anniversary of armistice
And adorning Hertford Castle, a whopping 170 miles of wool has been used to knit and crochet 15,000 poppies. The task brought together every generation — with 100-year-old Ivy Buck being the oldest and six-year-old Bodhi Gover the youngest.
Those willing to get their hands dirty in the garden have also been chipping in.
In the park in front of Colchester Castle, a spectacular three-dimensional flower display features a floral World War I Mark VI tank, planted with 9,000 carpet bedding plants called alternanthera, as well as willow sculptures of soldiers and a nurse.
To capture the colossal scale of Britain’s Remembrance would require a book 1,000 pages long.
Here, we present a selection of the most fantastic, eye-catching and, in some cases, unusual efforts that have been made around the country in the name of Remembrance.
Salford: Awe-inspiring ‘wave’ of poppies at Imperial War Museum North, Greater Manchester
Warwickshire: Abi Fairholm and daughter Delilah, four, viewing knitted poppies at Southam Congregational Church
North Yorkshire: Locals knitted 9,000 poppies for their war memorial at Christ Church, Great Ayton for the 100th anniversary
One patriotic homeowner spells out the Royal British Legion’s ‘Thank You’ slogan to display their respect for veterans
Norwich: 15,000 knitted poppies surround the altar at St Peter Mancroft Church, Norfolk. The handmade red flowers represent each fallen soldier named on a war memorial in the county
Inspired? Step by simple step, how to knit your own beautiful tribute
By Jan Moir
The knitted poppy displays appearing across the UK are beautiful and touching, a homespun tribute to those who never came home. And if you want to join in with your own woolly tribute, our knitting pattern shows the way.
How easy is it? Please don’t look too closely at my petals, which look like they have caught some kind of deadly blight. And my leaf has somehow ended up looking more like a coral reef than a poppy leaf, but I was knitting at speed. Once my poppy takes its place, hopefully in a beautiful cascade in my local church, no one will notice the occasional dropped or knotted stitch.
The poppy is knitted on small 2mm needles, which does make it rather fiddly. Woman’s Weekly, which supplied the pattern, recommends that you use a particular type of wool made with cotton, especially if you want to wear it on your lapel. That would definitely add a bit of structure and class to your poppy, but I just used what I had at home: John Lewis Knit in 902 Red and Rowan Alpaca Soft in 00215 Green, both double knit. The black centre was knitted with a scrap of old wool. There is nothing too complicated here, give or take the leaves.
A competent knitter could finish the poppy in a couple of hours. It took me seven hours, I don’t even know why.
Jan Moir: A competent knitter could finish the poppy in a couple of hours. It took me seven hours, I don’t even know why
STEP ONE — THE FLOWER : Start with the petals, which are knitted individually. You will need four of them and have to master simple techniques such as ‘wrapping’ stitches, knitting twice into each stitch and casting off purl wise
STEP TWO — THE CENTRE: Easy! Four rows plus casting off. Even I managed this without error
STEP THREE — The STEM: If you can cast on eight stitches and knit 26 rows in stocking stitch, then you are home and dry
STEP FOUR — THE LEAVES: I had to rip back my leaves twice, but it is worth it in the end. You have to cast on and cast off multiple times, then slip, knit and slipover repeatedly. Just when you think, how on earth can this woolly spaghetti possibly look like a plant, a sheaf of leaves unfolds like a magic trick
STEP FIVE — THE STITCH UP: Stitching it all together is the fun part. Sew along the edges of the stem. Then assemble the petals, with the cast-on ends in the centre. Add the black centre, attach the dastardly leaf and voila, your own knitted poppy tribute!
Don’t forget to make a donation!
To support this year’s Poppy Appeal, call the British Legion on 0845 845 1945; or text POPPY to 70020* to donate £3.
*Cost £3 plus standard network charges (typically £2.97 goes to the Poppy Appeal)