Armistice: Legacy of the Great War in Norfolk

20 October 2018 – 6 January 2019

Armistice: Legacy of the Great War in Norfolk is a major centenary exhibition commemorating the end of the First World War.

The displays explore the breadth and depth of the effect of the War on Norwich and Norfolk.  The physical impact on the county, including coastal defences, and changes in agriculture and industry is examined, alongside the stories of communities and individuals whose lives were transformed.

The impact on the county was phenomenal - geographically vulnerable to invasion, large numbers of troops were stationed or passed through Norfolk.  By 1917 the primary YMCA centre in Norwich at St Andrews Hall was being used by 25,000 soldiers a week.  There were over sixty auxiliary hospitals and forty-seven airfields around the county.  Norfolk suffered the first sea bombardment and the first fatal zeppelin air raid of the War.  The fishing industry was severely disrupted by U-boats and mines, and many trawlermen were part of the Naval Reserve.

Over 12,000 men of the county did not return, and are commemorated on village memorials and school Rolls of Honour.  Many more came back injured or forever changed by their experiences.  The exhibition looks at the systems put in place to help these men to cope on their return, including ex-servicemen’s organisations, county work schemes, homes for heroes, and soldiers’ smallholdings.

Celebrating resilience and adaptability, as well as commemorating loss and remembrance, the rich displays show fine art and textiles alongside locally manufactured goods, such as boots for European armies and wire netting, which made the ‘wire road’ enabling troops to walk through the Sinai desert.

A series of finely crafted artworks by Paddy Hartley focus on the subject of remembrance and memorialisation. Called Papaver Rhoeas, these unique and exquisite field poppies will gradually change throughout the exhibition.

Posters, photographs, archives and interactive displays complement the diverse objects drawn from around the county, for this uniquely Norfolk exhibition.