The sleepy village of Blo Norton hosted and marked the 90th Anniversary of its most famous resident Prince Frederick Duleep Singh with a two day remembrance weekend...
Prince Frederick Duleep Singh (seated on right) at Blo Norton, c.1910
Village folk from around the county descended upon Blo Norton last weekend to mark the 90th Anniversary of their most famous resident and benafactor. Prince Frederick Victor Duleep SIngh, second son of Maharajah Duleep Singh of Lahore lived at Blo Norton Hall from 1909 until his death on the 15th August 1926. The local community wanted to mark his 90th anniversary in a befitting way and hosted a special weekend of events in honour of the Prince who died exactly 90 years ago
Blo Norton Church
The festivities were held at two venues. The Village Hall housed an exhibition to the Prince, tirelessly put together by village enthusiast Geoffrey Leigh, who went to great lengths to make this a dispaly to remember. To accompy this, Thetford Museum had loaned their pop-up dispaly exhibition on the Sikh Empire and Maharajah Duleep Singh, whilst Duleep SIngh biographer and historian Peter Bance loaned items for display of artefacts associated with the Prince from his collection. The Church saw an Indian-themed flower festival with stalls lining the churchyard selling local produce, books and curiosities. There was a tambola, raffles and plenty of cakes and snacks all put on by volunteers at no cost, and with all donations going towards the Church and Village Hall.
Peter Bance giving a talk on the Prince at Blo Norton Church
Proceedings got underway on a bright Saturday of the 13th August at the Church where Peter Bance was to give a talk on the life of Prince Frederick. The talk was fully booked, and tickets for attending the presentation had sold-out weeks in advance. As the church could only seat 100 people, many had to be turned away on the day with an already growing waiting list, which has now prompted the organisers to arrange a second talk later in the year. The reverend of Blo Notion introduced Peter Bance, who spoke profousely about the Prince, his father The Maharajah and the Sikh Kingdom, accompanied by a delightful powerpoint presentation with over 50 projector slide images of the Prince. This was followed by a book signing of his coffee-table book 'Sovereign, Squire & Rebel'.
Geoffrey Leigh giving a talk at the Village Hall
The follwoing Sunday, the focus was more at the Village Hall, with new items introduced in the dispaly cabinets by Peter Bance, followed by a midday open-air talk due to the generous weather by Blo Norton resident Geoffrey Leigh on Prince Frederick's legacy. Again crowds turned up in large numbers for the talk and bringing with them interesting personal tales of the Prince. 'Its been such a fantastic weekend and people are so interested in the whole story of the Prince even after all these years' said Peter Bance who attended with his family, he added 'The feedback I got from my talk was immense, and all the books I brought had all sold out, coupled with the welcoming I received me and my family felt we just had to come again on Sunday.'
Sikh Khanda design on flowers On display, the funeral bier on which the Prince's coffin was carried
Events were brought to a close in the late afternoon on Sunday at the Church, with a service to Prince Frederick, with inspring speeches from the Reverrend and local parishers, with prayers and hymns (Some of which had been sang on his funeral) to end a beffiting weekend to the Prince, which 'Prince Freddy' would have been so proud of.
In autumn 2015, the Sikh Welfare Society of East London had the gravestone of Prince Frederick Duleep Singh restored to mark the upcoming anniversary. Click here for full story.
Hi planning to organise a trip for couple of elderly groups I manage to visit Maharaja Duleep Singh's monument and also to see the exhibition or gallery. Not sure if Elveden, Norfolk has all that we want to visit for?