As the centenary of Armistice Day approaches, a new exhibition opens at The Bowes Museum in October, marking the culmination of a five-year First World War Commemoration project supported by the National Lottery.
“To Serve King and Country” will explore the role of Teesdale and its residents during the First World War, bringing their stories to life in a compassionate and informative display.
Life at the Front and at home will be depicted, including the impact and aftermath of war on individuals and communities, and their response to the worldwide conflict that turned their lives upside down.
Soldiers’ equipment, trench art, medals, books of cartoons and other memorabilia will be on display. Many personal artefacts are included in the exhibition, including a diary containing letters from soldiers, and photographs.
The minutiae of life’s minor discomforts is portrayed with the inclusion of some hard ‘tack’ biscuits which have survived the ravages of time, perhaps because many of the troops complained about them being inedible jawbreakers.
Throughout the duration of the “To Serve King and Country” project, locals and those with Teesdale connections have come forward with letters, diaries, postcards, service records and other artefacts to photograph, which will also go on display, together with material such as embroidered postcards, complemented by First World War material from the Embroiderers’ Guild’s prestigious exhibition Calm during the Storm.
Curated by project volunteers and Museum staff, the exhibition opens on Saturday 20 October, running until Sunday 3 March 2019.
Visitors to the exhibition will also have access to the Roll of Honour and the project website www.thebowesmuseumww1.org.uk with iPads provided for their use. The Roll, originally begun in 1915 by the Museum’s then curator Owen Scott to record those ‘serving King and Country’ in any capacity whatsoever during WW1, regardless of rank or gender, has seen a further 2,000+ names added to the register since this latest project commenced.
Judith Phillips, Research Adviser to The Bowes Museum’s First World War Commemoration Project, said: “Thanks to the hundreds of hours dedicated to the project by the volunteers and to support from the National Lottery, we have discovered so much about the men and women of Teesdale who served during the war or were otherwise affected by the conflict – and there’s still more to discover.
“Perhaps you will find out something you didn’t know about a member of your own family, or maybe you can help add to our information as we pay our respects to everyone connected to Teesdale who was involved with the First World War.”
A programme of events and activities to support the exhibition is planned during its run. Details of the events, which are suitable for all ages, will be posted on the Museum’s website www/thebowesmuseum.org.uk/What’sOn/Events
The project is funded by National Lottery players through a £65,900 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), with additional support from Barnard Castle Town Council, Durham County Council and Teesdale Area Action Partnership.