Peter Bance gave a fascinating talk at St Martin’s tonight all about Prince Frederick Duleep Singh. This was followed by Bronwen Tyler explaining his connections with Thompson and Ann Cuthbert spoke on living in same house that Prince Frederick lived in when he lived in Breckles.
Prince Frederick Duleep Singh (1868 -1926) was the third son of the Maharajah Duleep Singh of Elveden Hall. Prince Freddie, as he was often known, would have been very familiar with this area. His father entertained Lord Walsingham and they took part in shooting parties, together with the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII). He lived for a time at Breckles House, Stow Bedon and the gates now bear a plaque commemorating his time there.
The Prince was a very keen historian and believed in the restoration and preservation of historic buildings, not modernisation and alteration. He shared these views with Rev Charles Kent, who was Rector of Merton and also a noted local historian. The Prince was a Christian and would probably have come to know the Rector by attending church services in the area. The Prince’s involvement in Thompson arose from the proposal by the Diocese to close Thompson Church and make Tottington the main church. The Prince suggested he would underwrite the cost should it not be raised by public subscription.
They succeeded and the restoration work was completed in 1913. However, the fundraising continued, and provided a new organ, a Bible and a Lectern. Despite their greater hardships, even the men at the front are recorded as sending donations, thinking of their home in the midst of war. The Rector’s contribution was recognised in a stained glass window but for reasons unknown the Prince was not. We have now been able to rectify this by gaining permission to install a plaque in St Martin’s in his memory; we are grateful to Peter Bance and Ann Cuthbert for their sponsorship and for their continuing support of St Martin’s.