Celebratory event at Thetford’s Ancient House Museum mark’s 150th birthday of Prince Frederick Duleep Singh
PUBLISHED: 21:26 20 January 2018 | UPDATED: 08:58 21 January 2018
A celebratory event has marked the 150th birthday of a prince who dedicated much of his life to preserving the heritage of Norfolk and Suffolk.
Born in 1868, Prince Frederick Duleep Singh was the son of Maharajah Duleep Singh, the last king of the Punjab, and grew up on the Elveden Estate.
Known for his generosity, Prince Frederick purchased the Tudor house in Thetford and gave it to the town of Thetford for the purpose of a museum.
The Ancient House Museum was opened in 1924 and the prince donated a collection of artefacts - including portraits - for display.
MORE - Indian Prince Frederick Duleep Singh who devoted his life to preserving Norfolk and Suffolk’s heritage to be commemorated
A free event to mark the prince’s birthday was held where people old and young could learn more about his life and the impact he had in the region. Visitors were able to see the items donated by Prince Frederick, see family pictures and learn more about his military background.
There were reenactors including a suffragette because the prince’s sister Sophia Duleep Singh was a member of the Women’s Social and Political Union which campaigned for women’s suffrage.
Oliver Bone, museum curator, said: “It is brilliant that we are able to mark Prince Frederick’s anniversary and it is an opportunity for us to celebrate his generosity and his love of history.
“It is an opportunity for Prince Frederick to be in the limelight and to show what he did during his life and the collection he built up. He was interested in preservation of cultural heritage and we benefit today from his interests.”
The prince served in the Suffolk Yeomanry and was a Major in the Norfolk Yeomanry between 1893 and 1909, rejoining to fight in France during the First World War.
He was against the closure of places of worship and encouraged the restoration of churches, including in Thompson, near Watton. He owned and lived in Old Buckenham Hall and the 16th century Blo’ Norton Hall, near Diss.
The museum is hoping to apply for a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to help create an exhibition dedicated to the prince.
“We know that people are fascinated with this unexpected connection and links we have here,” said Mr Bone. “People come long distances to fund out about his story and we have some interesting objects we are unable to show right now.”
A bit more information about Prince Frederick
He was educated at Eton and then Magdalene College, Cambridge, where he gained a Masters degree in history.
A keen collector, archaeologist and historian he wrote articles for seven Norfolk publications.
He was the vice-president for the Suffolk Institute of Archeology and Natural History and the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association.
He died at Blo’ Norton Hall on August 15 1926 aged 55.
The prince never visited the Punjab or India to see where his family once ruled.
The last lineal male descent of the king of the Pubjab, his death ended the legacy of the Sikh Kingdom.
His father the Maharajah was compelled to resign his sovereign and rights during the Anglo-Sikh war in 1849.
He was exiled to England in 1854 and it is believed he was pressured into converting to Christianity.
He was friends with Queen Victoria.
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