Dereham museum to take visitors back in time to 1914

PUBLISHED: 10:36 09 May 2014

Sue Walker White and (R) Alison Phillips inside the new Dereham in Peace and War exhibition at Bishop Bonner's museum. Picture: Ian Burt

Sue Walker White and (R) Alison Phillips inside the new Dereham in Peace and War exhibition at Bishop Bonner's museum. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant © 2014

The sights and sounds of 1914 are set to come alive this weekend as heritage enthusiasts pay tribute to those who served in the Great War.

Bishop Bonner’s Cottage Museum, in Dereham, will reopen for its summer season with a free family day this Saturday.

The event will focus on the museum’s new display, Dereham in Peace and War 1914, a special commemorative exhibition to mark the centenary of the start of the First World War.

Over the last few months, members of Dereham Antiquarian Society and the Town Archive have been collating as much information as they can about Dereham’s contribution to the Great War.

They have been speaking to relatives of those who served in the war to find out their family stories and have been trawling newspapers to find relevant cuttings and photos.

As part of the display, people will be able to discover what life was like in Dereham before the outbreak of war, how many troops were based in the town and learn about the community effort made to fund a hospital at Dereham’s vicarage.

Saturday’s family day will feature a working 100-year-old motorbike, live music and a wind-up gramophone with original records and a stereo viewer with photocards of the time.

“I think people will be surprised by what technology they had,” said Sue Walker White, museum curator. “There must have been a real buzz of activity around Dereham – the population of the town was about 6,000 which increased by half again with 3,000 soldiers.

“There are a lot of stories to tell – this is just the first year.

“We are going to carry on and, hopefully, we’ll get more people’s stories or people will look at some of the photos and tell us more about what’s in the pictures.”

The free family day will run from 10am to 4pm. Children will be able to decorate the cottage with paper chains, there will be aerial photographs of Dereham on display and the exhibition includes stories of Dereham families including the Milk and Elgen families.

Mrs Walker White added: “We’re trying to do justice to the Dereham lads – the ones that didn’t come home and the ones who did. We will keep telling the stories over the four years of the war.”

Are you organising an event to mark the centenary? EDP Great War correspondent Kim Briscoe is keen to hear from you. Call 01603 772474 or email

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