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Plans for new statue and information centre to commemorate Duleep Singh family are revealed

PUBLISHED: 07:55 24 October 2019 | UPDATED: 08:13 24 October 2019

A wreath laying ceremony took place at the grave of Maharaja Duleep Singh in Elveden on the anniversary of his death. Photo: Peter Bance

A wreath laying ceremony took place at the grave of Maharaja Duleep Singh in Elveden on the anniversary of his death. Photo: Peter Bance

Peter Bance

Plans for a new statue and information centre to commemorate the life of the Maharajah Duleep Singh and his children have been revealed in a town.

A wreath laying ceremony took place at the grave of Maharaja Duleep Singh in Elveden on the anniversary of his death. The mayor of Thetford, Councillor Brenda Canham laid the first wreath. Photo: Peter BanceA wreath laying ceremony took place at the grave of Maharaja Duleep Singh in Elveden on the anniversary of his death. The mayor of Thetford, Councillor Brenda Canham laid the first wreath. Photo: Peter Bance

Just as Thetford celebrated the 126th anniversary of his death, proposals are being discussed to open an information centre with an exhibition and a new statue to be put up in the town.

Sikh historian and author Peter Bance said: "I have had meetings with Thetford Town Council who agree it is important to keep this momentum going and we plan to open a Duleep Singh information centre, with an exhibition and artefacts belonging to the Maharajah himself. We also want to put up a statue of his children in the town who all have their own brilliant stories."

The information centre and exhibition is expected to open at the Guildhall in Thetford and the statue is being designed to commemorate the Maharajah's children, Prince Frederick, and Princesses Sophia and Catherine Duleep Singh - all with their own unique history.

Mr Bance added: "Princess Catherine's story isn't really known and needs to be told. We have found out that during the outbreak of World War II, she saved the lives of Jewish families. Princess Sophia was a well-known suffragette and Prince Frederick was instrumental in saving and restoring 200 churches."

Historian and biographer, Peter Bance, spoke at the reception held at the Guildhall after the memorial service celebrating the 126th death anniversary of the Maharajah Duleep Singh. Photo: Peter BanceHistorian and biographer, Peter Bance, spoke at the reception held at the Guildhall after the memorial service celebrating the 126th death anniversary of the Maharajah Duleep Singh. Photo: Peter Bance

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A memorial took place in Thetford on October 22, at St Andrew and St Patrick's Church in Elveden, where guests paid their respects to the last ruler of the Sikh Empire at a wreathe laying ceremony.

The Maharajah Duleep Singh bought the Elveden Estate in 1863, after he was exiled, and it is where he lived for more than 20 years.

The memorial was attended by the Mayor of Thetford Councillor Brenda Canham, vice chairman of Breckland Council, Roy Brame, Reverend Paul Tams, the town crier, and Sikh priest Giani Baldev, along with members of the Sikh community from all over the United Kingdom.

Historian and biographer, Peter Bance (left), at the memorial service held in Elveden, St Andrew & St Patrick's Church, celebrating the 126th death anniversary of the Maharajah Duleep Singh. Photo: Peter BanceHistorian and biographer, Peter Bance (left), at the memorial service held in Elveden, St Andrew & St Patrick's Church, celebrating the 126th death anniversary of the Maharajah Duleep Singh. Photo: Peter Bance

The event was organised by the Anglo Punjab Heritage Foundation, with help from Mr Bance. He said: "We want to keep the memory of the Maharajah, his family and their links with Thetford alive.

"We had people come from all over. It was a great event where two cultures came together to embrace each others traditions."

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