Wickham Market: Exhibition offers insight into wartime Suffolk

A wartime picture taken from Wickham Market Archive Centre, titled A wartime picture taken from Wickham Market Archive Centre, titled "Henry Walne 1917"

Andrew Hirst andrew.hirst@archant.co.uk
Friday, April 25, 2014
1:30 PM

An exhibition chronicling the experiences of Home Front communities in Suffolk during the First World War is being held to mark its centenary.

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Wickham Market Archive Centre has compiled more than 90 displays of photographs, wartime diaries and public records from the Deben Valley for the two-day Bank Holiday event.

Ray Whitehand, an archivist and local historian, is hoping the event will enlighten visitors about aspects of the Great War which are often overlooked.

“Although so much coverage of the war has concentrated on what happened with the soldiers, this exhibition shows how people in Suffolk were carrying on with life as best they could,” he said.

“I wouldn’t say that the war passed them by, but there seems to have almost been an acceptance that they would continue with home life as they had always done.”

Among the displays to feature at Wickham Market village hall will be information on the role of women in the workplace, the formation of local Royal British Legion branches and details taken from school records from the time.

Mr Whitehand has referred to records taken from June 1917 when pupils at one local primary school were given a day out of the classroom to visit the site of a German zeppelin crash which had been shot down in Theberton during a bombing raid.

Spurred on by the success of an open day hosted by the archive centre last month, Mr Whitehand said he hoped the 27th annual exhibition would attract as many as 500 interested visitors.

“From what people have been saying and the encouraging response to the open day, we’re expecting there to be a good turn out,” he said.

“That really put us on the map, the feedback we had was phenomenal – it was a brilliant success.”

The free event runs from 11am to 5pm on Sunday and Monday, May 4 and 5, with parking, disabled access, and refreshment throughout.

After the exhibition closes on Monday, local historian Peter Driver will be giving an illustrated talk titled It’s a Grave Business – a lighthearted look into the history of Suffolk’s gravestones.

The lecture, which is also free to attend, takes place from 7.30pm at the village hall in High Street.

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