They spent the rest of the day at the Tower of London, that great walled and moated fortress, linked to the river by its ominous traitor’s gate.
Archie’s report is short of details, but tells us that they heard so many grim stories of torture and beheadings and mysterious disappearances, and saw so many grim objects, that “we all came out with creepy feelings running up and down our backs.” (1)
Their spirits were restored in the course of the final leg of the journey, crossing the river via Tower Bridge, returning over London Bridge, and then cheering their way down the Strand, twisting through the tangle of streets in Soho and Seven Dials, and so back to the Shakespeare Hut.
The Tower was the site of another moving commemoration of World War I. Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red was an installation, by stage designer Tom Piper and ceramicist Paul Cummins. Its 888,246 ceramic poppies, placed in the moat by some eight thousand volunteers, commemorated each British and Imperial soldier who died in the conflict. Completed by Remembrance Day 2014, the installation was taken down immediately afterwards, its transience, said Cummins, being “poignant and reflective of human life.” (2)
The aerial view of the Tower of London comes from AboutBritain.com.
(1) Wills, Archie. Diary. 3: 61. October 7, 1916. Archie Wills Fonds, University of Victoria Archives. Copyright 2007, University of Victoria.
(2) “Queen visits Tower of London poppy garden,” BBC news item, October 16, 2014.
The photograph of Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red is from the Telegraph.