‘……the poppies blow, between the crosses, row on row’*

Soon, it will be the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.  One hundred years since Armistice Day 1918, and the end of World War I.  Since the 1920s, here in Britain and the Commonwealth, the poppies which were so ubiquitous in the Flanders fields of battle have been used as a symbol to commemorate those who died in conflict.

For about a year now, Ripon has been making plans for something rather special – The Ripon Community Poppy Project.

Hand knitted poppies have appeared all over town, specifically a great avenue of them on the route between the Cathedral, past the Market Square and Town Hall and down towards the park – Spa Gardens. Shopkeepers have dressed their windows in commemoration.  All this year, the citizens of Ripon and beyond have been knitting and crocheting dozens of poppies, scores of poppies, hundreds and thousands of poppies. Sadly, not me.  I can’t knit.  Now these poppies are being displayed.  Everywhere.

It’s been an extraordinary project, involving the young, the old, the housebound, all of whom have been united in wanting to have Ripon remember the fallen in a striking yet appropriate way.

And there’s more.  I’ll be posting about ‘Fields of Mud, Seeds of Hope’, and  events at the Cathedral later.  For now, just have a short walk round Ripon with me and enjoy the poppies, as you remember the terrible story of the Great War.

*’In Flanders Fields’ by John McRae.

Click on any image to view full size.

35 thoughts on “‘……the poppies blow, between the crosses, row on row’*”

    1. It’s very well done isn’t it? And the Fields of Mud change almost daily as the mud dries. Have you seen all the silhouettes yet? We haven’t seen the ones in Sharow. And your back? Getting better? Hope so!

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  1. Thank you for sharing this Margaret. We’ll obviously miss it all, being in Spain, but I did manage to crochet a few before we left, so I’ve contributed a little to the display. It looks wonderful. I’m sure you’ll share more in the coming weeks.
    Love from Joyce & John x

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  2. They’ll be looking a little sad today. It’s cold, rainy and gusty. Well done you for contributing. They’re wonderful …. and very moving. Enjoy your time in Spain xx

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  3. How utterly amazing. I believe we have plans after the Festival yarn bombing has been removed but it will have to be amazing to improve on Ripon. Round our way there has been an outbreak of black metal full size two dimensional soldiers with their guns at rest (I’m sure there’s a technical term) wearing a red poppy. They are very effective and I prefer the outlines to the examples which are solid.

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  4. This is SO extraordinary. I’ve never seen in all my years in England anything so beautiful and thoughtful. Well done Ripon! A wonderful ‘new tradition’ – may it grow and grow….

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  5. Thank for sharing these photos Margaret – a beautiful tribute. I’ll show Mum as she went to Ripon teachers college in ’40, ’41- which sadly is no longer. We visited my great uncle’s grave near Ypres this year – became quite emotional thinking of his sacrifice. All those young lives. So sad. Thank you Ripon

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    1. Ripon is stilll in many ways an army town, though less than it used to be. We lived briefly on the development which grew from the College of Ripon and York St. John. It’s been well done, preserving the buildings your mum would have known, but it’s so sad the college is no longer in use for would-be teachers.

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  6. Beautiful! wanted to send a picture of the preparations for the ceremony at the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, MO, but it doesn’t work to post a pic in comments. If you would like to see the poppies placed in the pool at the memorial you can visit the “National WWI Museum and Memorial” page on fb. While in England a couple years ago, I purchased a poppy pin for my coat, one of my favorite souvenirs from your country.

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    1. I’ve just had a quick look at this page, and will continue to do so as it’s clear that they will be posting more images. It looks a thoughtful and poignant project. Thanks for the link.

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    1. There are some particularly moving tributes and displays this year. Though there is no longer anyone alive who fought in this conflict, it continues to live in people’s souls. As it should.

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  7. The Ripon poppy project is awesome. I hadn’t heard of Flanders until last year when Chèvrefeuille used a poem about Flanders by John McCrae to inspire us to write a Haiku. Very sad so many died there.

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  8. It was truly shocking. Any community war memorial throughout much of Europe will how you how many towns and villages were simply deprived of their young men, causing fundamental social change – admittedly, not all of it bad.

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  9. That strong red is always eye-catching and in these circumstances so poignant. Knitting the poppies is particularly apt too as wasn’t knitting used as therapy for shell-shock. It was one of those repetitive, physical tasks along with weaving and prodding rag rugs that was thought to calm patients.

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    1. You’re right! I’d quite forgotten that. For some reason, knitting winds me up so that I’m bouncing off the ceiling within minutes of attempting to start, so it’s not clear that it would work for me. Yes, the red poppy really does a good job. The French symbol is the cornflower, for similar reasons to the poppy, but it doesn’t work half as well in my opinion.

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  10. It is so important to continue to remember the suffering and extraordinary loss of life – millions of young men from all the countries involved, sacrificed so horrendously. The handmade poppies seem such a loving tribute to the soldiers and their families and communities. Their loss is incalculable.

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  11. It’s such a particularly hard war to comprehend. And it’s still – just about- within living memory. I wonder how it will be remembered when it’s just ancient history?

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