Poppy Project

Carbrooke, Norfolk is a small agricultural village. It has a surprising and fascinating history, with influences through the centuries from around the world.

At about this time last year, we began considering ways in which we could commemorate the Centenary of the ending of The Great War. In early summer, a suggestion was made, that we might knit or crochet poppies, – one for each of the 27 men on Carbrooke War Memorial. This was being planned in similar ways across the whole country, and we felt would be a project many would like be involved with – to show their respect and to be part of something bigger.

A group conversation grew and grew, until we had decided we might try and produce hundreds of poppies to cover the church tower, representing those who have been killed in military action in service of our country. For anyone who doesn’t know, this would be some project as the church tower is (I am told) 99 feet high.

Over the summer, we started planning and passing on the idea, poppy patterns were shared around, and the handiwork began. I was rather alarmed, when I read in the PCC minutes that we would be making thousands of poppies, and I don’t think anyone believed we would really get enough poppies to do anything significant, but by the autumn, poppy production was well under way by the whole community, & others who had heard about it through word of mouth or social media and wanted to be involved.

How we would attach the poppies was a quandary, the tower was too tall to hang a net from as other places have done, and there would be no way of fixing them individually. Eventually we decided attaching them to strings, trailing them from the top of the tower, like streamers – a different take on the usual ideas.

During October more and more poppies arrived and we began sewing them onto the strings, the school and playgroup wanted to be involved, with the children making felt poppies, and playgroup mini wreaths, which have been used to decorate the screen inside the church.

We estimate that we have produced 2500 poppies, and whilst sewing them, often comment on the different styles and colours of red used, we have done our best to mix them all up. Apparently there is now a nationwide shortage of red wool!

Some of the poppies are purple; – these signify the horses, mules, camels, bullocks, dogs, carrier pigeons and other animals which suffered the same terrible conditions as the soldiers & were sacrificed in our wars. There are also some white poppies – our hope that one day there will be lasting peace.

At the beginning of November, the streamers were hoisted to the top of the tower and attached to the flagpole, with the ends secured into the ground with wooden pegs, we are particularly pleased that one very long streamer reaches to the war memorial. The original plan, to place a knitted poppy for each man mentioned, on the war memorial has also been achieved.

We set out to create a tangible commemoration and opportunity to pay respect to our ancestors, family members, friends or neighbours – and as recognition of the terrible waste of life & atrocities that has been endured in conflicts, which drive people apart. This activity on the other hand has bought communities across the country together.

Many Carbrooke people, and others further afield, have been involved in our project, who may not normally meet or work together, this in turn is part of a larger, nationwide project, to remember, respect and hope for the future.

We plan to leave the displays in place until the end of November then all the poppies will be stored and used again in the future as part of our annual remembrance service, or for special events.

November 2018


Page last Updated 02.10.20