In a significant development for both history enthusiasts and local residents, the Ancient House Museum in Thetford, Norfolk, has received a substantial grant of nearly £200,000 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The funding will be utilized to commemorate the legacy of Maharaja Duleep Singh, the last ruler of the Sikh empire, and his family.
The museum, which celebrates its centenary this year, was established in 1924 by Prince Frederick Duleep Singh, the son of Maharaja Duleep Singh. This timely grant will be employed to narrate the compelling story of the Duleep Singh family through captivating displays and exhibitions, according to a report by the BBC.
Maharaja Duleep Singh, the youngest son of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, founder of the Sikh empire in 1799, ascended to the throne at the tender age of five following the demise of his father and brother. However, his reign was short-lived, as the British annexed Punjab in 1849, leading to his removal from power.
At the age of 15, Duleep Singh found himself in England and eventually made Elveden Hall in Suffolk his home. The Duleep Singh family continued to have a profound impact on the region for the next century.
Prince Frederick, the second son of Duleep Singh, bequeathed Thetford’s Ancient House Museum to the town’s residents. Noteworthy for his service in World War I as part of the Suffolk and Norfolk Yeomanry, Prince Frederick played a crucial role in preserving the family’s historical artifacts.
Embarking on a two-year project, the museum aims to present the “fascinating history of the Duleep Singh family,” as stated by Robyn Llewellyn, the director of England, Midlands, and East for the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Norfolk County Council highlighted that the upcoming displays would encompass a rich ‘treasury’ of Anglo-Punjab history, a detailed model of Elveden Hall, a loaned portrait of Duleep Singh, and exhibits showcasing the family’s contributions and activism toward achieving universal suffrage.
Among the family items set to be exhibited is Duleep Singh’s walking stick, a poignant gift from King Edward VII during his time as Prince of Wales. This artifact serves as a tangible link to the intricate tapestry of the Duleep Singh family’s history, providing visitors with a unique insight into a bygone era.
The grant not only signifies a recognition of the Ancient House Museum’s dedication to preserving historical narratives but also highlights the enduring importance of Maharaja Duleep Singh’s story within the cultural heritage of the United Kingdom. As the museum embarks on this ambitious project, it is poised to become a beacon for those seeking to delve into the rich and multifaceted history of the Duleep Singh family.