The Regimental Museum at Connaught House is open to general visitors on the four days of the year when there are formal Association events – check the events page for the schedule of these dates.
Alex Shooter, Museum Curator.
Regimental Museum, 2016.
The past year has been extremely busy one for the Museum as we continued to host numerous visits from family members whose ancestors served with the London Irish Rifles during the Great War. A large number of original documents in the Museum, including press cuttings that date from the foundation of the Regiment in 1859, are an invaluable resource that allows us to turn up a plentiful supply of unpublished history. In addition, the Association’s website provides an excellent opportunity to explore previously untraceable family history and we have been able to uncover and share some fantastically moving and evocative connections with families of men who served with the London Irish Rifles over the past century and a half.
Two activities during the year marked it as one of particular success for the Museum.
The Regiment’s visit to France in September proved a most compelling one and prominent and in great demand was, of course, the Loos Football. It was present at the Regimental Dinner on the exact 100th anniversary of the start of the battle and was then on display the next morning at the very moving Remembrance Service at the Loos British Cemetery. As a coda to a fantastic weekend of commemorations, the football again became the centre of attention on our way home during our visit to Dud Corner CWGC Cemetery when we were able to share the story of Frank Edwards and his comrades with a number of other tour parties. All in all, it was a fantastic weekend.
The other major achievement during the year was the publication of a Loos Commemorative Envelope that was issued by the Museum to mark the precise date of the 100th anniversary of this great historic battle for the London Irish Rifles. This project commenced in earnest when the Royal Mail issued its second annual tranche of Great War stamps in April and the “Artefact” selected to represent 1915 was the Loos Football. This was a beautifully photographed image in its own right, with the stamp being priced at the European Air Mail rate. After several months of coordinated support from the Royal Mail, we gained agreement to produce a limited edition issue of 250 hand stamped envelopes to be made available, initially to Association members as they journeyed to Loos. Two envelopes were also sent out to the Regimental Association President, Major General Purdon, and to the Honorary Colonel, General Sir Sebastian Roberts, and these were delivered to their homes on the morning of 25th September.
The envelope comprised the previously issued £1.52 stamp along with an image of Lady Elizabeth Butler’s beautifully evocative painting of the ‘Footballers of Loos’. The pièce de résistance was a unique specially produced cancellation handstamp, which was dated 25th September 2015 – the post marking procedure had been overseen by staff at the Mount Pleasant Mail Centre. We would like to thank the Royal Mail, particularly Philip Parker and Natasha Ayivor, for their support in the successful production of this fantastic Regimental collectable.
With the centenary anniversaries of the events of the Great War continuing to be commemorated – including the Regiment’s contribution to the battles at High Wood during September 2016 – the current year has seen a steady demand for the expert support of the team of Regimental Museum volunteers: namely Nigel Wilkinson, Richard O’Sullivan and myself. Association Members and their guests are, of course, welcome to visit the Museum on all Parade days at Connaught House during the year.