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CHAPTER 15 - ‘Maharajah Duleep Singh, Elveden and Sikh Pilgrimage’

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 April 2013

T. A. Heslop
Affiliation:
University of East Anglia
Elizabeth Mellings
Affiliation:
University of East Anglia
Margit Thøfner
Affiliation:
University of East Anglia
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Summary

INTRODUCTION

Why has Elveden, a country estate in East Anglia, become part of the Sikh imagination in the twenty-first century? Why has it emerged as a place of Sikh pilgrimage?

Fully aware of their long connection with the British people through their shared colonial past, Sikhs started to arrive in Britain in the 1950s. Citing the Sikhs who had served in the British army during two World Wars, they used these associations to acquire jobs and to become an integral part of British society. In adapting to their new lives, these immigrants have had to accord with the legacy of their prominent first settler, and last Maharajah, Duleep Singh (1838–93) (plate XI).

In 1849 the Maharajah was dispossessed of his empire by the British; this comprised the modern-day subdivisions of the Punjab, Kashmir, the Khyber Pass and parts of western Tibet, straddling India and Afghanistan. The Maharajah converted to Christianity and was exiled to the United Kingdom, arriving in 1854 at the age of just fifteen. With him came the famous Koh-i-Noor diamond, which was re-fashioned to become the centerpiece of the crown of Queen Victoria. The Maharajah was a great favourite of the Queen, who felt some sympathy for his plight, according him a place next in line to the British royal children. He chose Elveden in East Anglia, famous for its shooting and hunting, in which to create a fitting environment to make a home for his family.

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Chapter
Information
Art, Faith and Place in East Anglia
From Prehistory to the Present
, pp. 223 - 239
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2012

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