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Memorial stone to commemorate Prince Frederick Duleep Singh’s legacy in Thetford

PUBLISHED: 16:33 15 July 2018 | UPDATED: 14:05 16 July 2018

At the unveiling (l-r) Karen Brame, Lord Walsingham, Gez Shetal, Mayor of Thetford Roy Brame and Peter Bance. Picture: Peter Bance

At the unveiling (l-r) Karen Brame, Lord Walsingham, Gez Shetal, Mayor of Thetford Roy Brame and Peter Bance. Picture: Peter Bance

Peter Bance

A memorial stone that pays tribute to a Sikh prince who has a special link to Norfolk has been unveiled.

The memorial stone commemorating Prince Frederick Dulip Singh, to be installed at the Thompson Church in Thetford. Picture: Peter BanceThe memorial stone commemorating Prince Frederick Dulip Singh, to be installed at the Thompson Church in Thetford. Picture: Peter Bance

The plaque honours Frederick Duleep Singh, who had saved St Martin Church, in Thompson, close to Watton, from closure and supported its renovation work in 1913.

He was the son of Maharajah Duleep Singh, the last King of the Sikh Empire, who once owned Elveden Estate.

The church is undergoing further renovation work and residents wanted to mark the occasion with a memorial plaque to Prince Frederick’s name.

Peter Bance with the memorial stone commemorating Prince Frederick Duleep Singh at Thompson Church in Thetfrod. Picture: Peter BancePeter Bance with the memorial stone commemorating Prince Frederick Duleep Singh at Thompson Church in Thetfrod. Picture: Peter Bance

It was unveiled by Lord Walsingham whose grandfather was a shooting partner of Prince Frederick.

The event on Sunday morning formed part of the two-week Festival of Thetford and Punjab, which celebrates Duleep Singh and his cultural heritage and legacy.

Sikh historian and author Peter Bance, who had organised the event, designed the Portman stone memorial, which will be installed at St Martin’s Church next year.

Lord Walsingham and Peter Bance at Thompson Church in Thetford. Picture: Peter BanceLord Walsingham and Peter Bance at Thompson Church in Thetford. Picture: Peter Bance

“As a student some 20 years ago, I visited Norfolk and made a visit to Elveden to see the Maharajah grave,” said Mr Bance.

“As a British born Sikh I had never been to India at that point of my life and this was the only part of Sikh history that we could relate to in Britain.

“I began researching the Maharajah and his children as a hobby, and over the years have amassed a whole archive of material and memorabilia.

Peter Bance at St Andrew’s Church in Blo’ Norton, near Diss. Picture: Peter BancePeter Bance at St Andrew’s Church in Blo’ Norton, near Diss. Picture: Peter Bance

“I met so many local people who knew or whose families knew or were connected to the Duleep Singh family in some way.”

Another event was held at St Andrew’s Church in Blo’ Norton, near Diss, where Prince Frederick is buried.

To mark the 150th birth anniversary of Prince Frederick, Mr Bance offered to have the existing memorial to the Prince inside the church refurbished and for his headstone to be professionally cleaned.

To mark the occasion, the church will install a brass plaque to thank Mr Bance for his continuous support to the village and the church over the last 20 years.

The Blo’ Norton unveiling was followed by a village fete with Bhangra dancing, classical music, a beer tent and Indian food stalls.

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