Family day documents Dereham’s First World War history

A exhibition called Dereham in Peace and War 1914 opened at Bishop Bonner's Cottage Museum during a free family day. Picture: Matthew Usher. A exhibition called Dereham in Peace and War 1914 opened at Bishop Bonner's Cottage Museum during a free family day. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Friday, May 16, 2014
4:36 PM

The doors to Dereham’s heritage were flung open today as a museum showcased the town’s Great War history.

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A exhibition called Dereham in Peace and War 1914 opened at Bishop Bonner's Cottage Museum during a free family day - Ray Fraser in the theme living room. Picture: Matthew Usher.A exhibition called Dereham in Peace and War 1914 opened at Bishop Bonner's Cottage Museum during a free family day - Ray Fraser in the theme living room. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Bishop Bonner’s Cottage Museum is hosting a special commemorative exhibition throughout the summer season to mark the centenary of the First World War.

‘Dereham in Peace and War 1914’ has been curated by Dereham Antiquarian Society and Town Archive by speaking to relatives of those who served in the war as well as trawling newspapers to find relevant cuttings and photos.

Today’s family day featured a working 100-year-old motorbike, live music and a wind-up gramophone with original First World War records and a stereo viewer with photocards of the time.

Sue Walker White, the museum curator, said: “This exhibition is to show the people of Dereham toady what normal life was like in 1914 and the effects of being called up to war.”

The collection took around a year to create and documents the journey of hundreds of men from Dereham and the surrounding towns and villages as they got ready to fight.

At one point there were 3,000 soldiers billeted in town – with the overall popular only double that number.

And the cavalry also based themselves there, making the town centre a bustling place during the war days.

Relatives contacted the museum to share their ancestors’ stories about having soldiers to stay in their homes as well as teary goodbyes to the men and boys as they went off to war.

See Monday’s EDP for more.

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