War exhibition at Beccles Museum highlights life on home front
As part of the Beccles Museum World War One Project, two new exhibitions have opened up detailing certain aspects of life in the town during the Great War.
Weddings and civic life are the focus of the exhibitions which museum volunteer Zane Blanchard believes will give people an insight into life away from the fighting.
“We know a lot about what went on at the Western Front and the life of a soldier and the unpleasant conditions they faced,” said Mr Blanchard. “But this is about the home front which is seldom revealed. This is a look into the past to see how ordinary lives were affected.”
Six weddings between men and woman from the Beccles area and from different classes are the focus of the wedding exhibition, including Ethel Violet Crickmore and Corporal William Leonard Hunt who married on December 26, 1916.
An example of the wedding attire worn by both the soldier and bride are on display as well as information about the families.
“Lots of museums are working on exhibitions for the First World War,” said Pam Finch, who works on costumes and textiles at the museum.
“We wanted to focus on the people in Beccles. Christine Wheeler researched local couples who married during the period and the information was collected through newspaper reports and information provided by the families.
“It’s lovely to see how their weddings went and to read their stories. It was another world and a difficult period but they just got on with things.”
Civic life and the decisions which had to be made by the council are provided through an archive kept by Edward Johnson Hindes, Beccles mayor from 1913 to 1919.
The archive is a record of how Beccles was affected by the war and discuses everything from rationing, a ban on street lights to prevent Zepplin raids and accommodation of the military in the town.
“His archive reveals how the town council had to make decisions,” said Mr Blanchard. “There was great disagreement in the council about the things and people in the town wrote in with their thoughts too.
“People had great difficulty making ends meet with the pressures on rationing and there more demands on every aspect of the town.”
The exhibition runs until September 6. The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 1.45pm to 4.30pm.