The figure represents the number of Britons who fell during the conflict, according to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. The beautiful poppies will continue to be planted by volunteers until Armistice Day on November 11, when the last will be planted.

The artist behind the work is ceramicist Paul Cummins. Cummins was inspired by reading a poem entitled Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red by an unknown soldier.

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Stage designer Tom Piper, who has worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company, collaborated with the artist to create the moving installation. As well as a team of 35 artists who worked in a studio in Derby.

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Mr Cummins said: "I had an idea to make them and it has snowballed. So many people are involved - far more than I thought. I'm really happy that so many volunteers are offering their time and are enjoying the process of planting the flowers.''

"For me, the artwork is transient. It won't be here forever, much like human beings. "I also like that, from the air, it looks like the Tower is bleeding. It's very poignant."

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The poppies can be purchased for £25 from the Tower of London website. 10 per cent of the price and all proceeds will go to six service charities.

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