Church Monuments Society

Fig4Memorial to Prince Frederick Duleep Singh in BloNorton church

The memorials to Prince Frederick Victor Duleep Singh MVO, TD, FSA 1868-1926 at Blo’Norton, Norfolk

Month: July 2020
Type: Headstone   Wall monument  
Era: 20th Century

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St Andrew's
Church Ln, Blo' Norton, Norfolk IP22 2JE

More about this monument

The grave and memorial of a Sikh prince who was a conservationist, historian and soldier

In the 1840s Britain fought two wars against the Sikhs and in 1849 annexed  [stole] the Punjab, the location of the Sikh Empire (we nicked the Koh-i-noor at this point). The ten year old ruler, Duleep Singh, was kidnapped, separated from his mother, whom he was not allowed to see for more than thirteen years, and forced to undergo a process of anglicisation and Anglicanisation through education. In 1854 he was sent to Britain, where he spent most of the remainder of his life, eventually returning to Sikhism He died comparatively young in 1893 and was buried in the churchyard at Elveden, Suffolk, where he had an estate, and where his grave is now a place of pilgrimage for the Sikh community.

Duleep Singh

Several of his children by his first wife, Bamba Müller, who was of German and Abyssinian parentage, made huge contributions to their enforced homeland. Catherine Hilda Duleep Singh (1871-1942) and Sophia Duleep Singh (1876-1949) were prominent suffragists. It to their elder brother, Prince Frederick, however, that the whole country (and not just women) owes a debt of gratitude.

Prince Frederick was a dedicated and generous conservationist. He contributed articles to learned journals about archaeology, heraldry and history and was elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London. He was joint author of Portraits in Norfolk Houses. He was East Anglia Repesentative of SPAB, producing about 50 historic building case reports. In 1921 he bought the Ancient House in Thetford  and gave it to the town, paying part of the cost of its restoration. He also contributed many of his collection of portraits to it.

Perhaps understandably he was a devotee of the exiled House of Stuart, and presented his collection of Stuart memorabilia, including a portrait of the Young Pretender attributed to Pompeo Batoni, and a portrait of Oliver Cromwell by Robert Walker (which Prince Frederick had displayed in his lavatory, hung upside down) to the Inverness Museum.

He was a long-serving member of the Yeomanry, serving in the Suffolk Imperial Yeomanry from 1893-1901, and then transferring to the Norfolk Yeomanry, resigning in 1909 with the rank of major. He rejoined (well over-age) at the outbreak of WWI, and was on active service in France for two years, and then with the General Staff. After the War he designed and donated the elegant War Memorial at Blo’ Norton, where he lived from 1906 until his death and where he is proudly and fondly remembered.

Frederick Duleep Singh

We stole his father’s Empire, and the imperial jewellery, we forced him to live his life in exile, and he repaid us with an astonishing generosity of spirit.


Jean Wilson