Getting ready for Open Churches Week 2017
The events include an exhibition in the village hall, an Indian- themed flower festival in the church, a talk on Saturday 13 August by the Sikh biographer of the Duleep Singh’s, Peter Bance and on Sunday a talk by Geoffrey Leigh on Prince Freddy.
Children from Lopham School, the local primary school, will be decorating the church porch for the flower festival and it will include a display of the class work they have done on the Sikh religion.
Prince Frederick was the second son of Maharajah Duleep Singh, the last king of the Punjab who was exiled to England and lived for many years at Elveden Hall.
The Prince was baptised in Elveden church and was educated in England. Later he enrolled in the local 'Loyal Suffolk Hussars' and then transferred to the 'Kings Own Royal Regiment Norfolk Yeomanry' and served in France in the First World War.
In 1909 he moved to the sixteenth century Blo Norton Hall and worshipped regularly in the parish church. He visited many local parishes and churches encouraging the repair and restoration of neglected and threatened churches. The war memorial standing outside the church gates was designed by the Prince and dedicated by him to those fallen in the First World War.
The Prince died at Blo Norton Hall on 15 August 1926 and his funeral in Blo Norton Church was attended by many prominent local people. He is buried in the churchyard and there is a large memorial tablet opposite the entrance in the Church.
Blo Norton is included on The Anglo Sikh Heritage Trail because of the association with Prince Frederick. The Trail is a project of the Maharajah Duleep Centenary Trust. The Trust was established in 1993, the centenary year of the death of Maharajah Duleep Singh, with the objective of highlighting and promoting Anglo Sikh heritage.
Centenary celebrations were held in Thetford and invitations to the celebrations were extended to Blo Norton Churchwardens and other village residents. At the celebrations the Sikh community very generously donated money towards the cost of restoration of the church bells.
Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and English Heritage the first national heritage trail celebrating Anglo-Sikh history and culture was launched July 2004. By the end of 2006 the Trail project had over 40 locations spread across the country with the aim of promoting research, education and engaging with local communities in relevant activities and events.
Elveden Church where the Maharajah and Maharani are buried is a popular focus for Sikhs visiting the area but many Sikhs do include a visit to Blo Norton to see Prince Frederick's grave and Blo Norton Church warmly welcomes them.
Blo Norton extends a warm welcome to all visiting the commemorative exhibitions and talks to celebrate the life of a Prince who endeared himself to the village community.