To mark the last year of World War One, displayed on Pendle Hill is ‘1918’ in the shape of poppies.
Backed by The Heritage Lottery Fund, this installation by artist, Philippe Handford, is of a breathtaking scale. The image, which now dominate views for many miles, measures 168 metres (550 ft) by 91 metres (300 ft). The ‘poppies’ are not made from actual poppies but are created from almost 900 metres (3,000 ft) of agricultural fleece.
Project Co-ordinator, Ele Jolley, explaining why the installation was commissioned said:
“We hope it will become lodged in the collective memory of East Lancashire and Yorkshire folk as they remember the enormous sacrifice made by their predecessors 100 years ago.”
There are three elements to the meaning of white poppies:
- Remembrance for all victims of war, not just those who fought
- Commitment to peace
- Challenge to attempts to glamorise or celebrate war
White poppies have been worn for over eighty years. They are distributed by the Peace Pledge Union.
Pendle Hill itself is steeped in the history of the peace movement. In 1652, one of the founders of the Quakers, George Fox came to the hill and recounts from his journal:
“As we traveled we came near a very great hill, called Pendle Hill, and I was moved of the Lord to go up to the top of it; which I did with difficulty, it was so very steep and high. When I was come to the top, I saw the sea bordering upon Lancashire. From the top of this hill the Lord let me see in what places he had a great people to be gathered. “
This event is seen as the defining moment when the Quakers, who had been loosely scattered until then, came together as an organised group of people seeking peace, equality, simplicity and truth.