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Film will reveal Thetfords hidden gemsDate: Wednesday, 18 May, 2011

A new television series aimed at unveiling some of the region's "hidden paintings" has begun filming in Thetford.

The production will spend a total of five days in the town at Kings House, home of Thetford Town Council, the Guildhall and the Ancient House Museum.

The film will aim to delve into the last Maharaja of the Punjab, Duleep Singh, and his son Prince Frederick, and how they became inexorably linked with this corner of East Anglia.

Prince Frederick, born in 1868, was one of the sons of the Maharajah Duleep Singh of Lahore who came to England in 1849 and lived at Elveden Hall in Suffolk.

In 1906 Prince Frederick bought Blo Norton Hall, a 16th century moated manor house, where he lived for the last 20 years of his life, laying out the grounds and building a temple in the woods.

Filming began in Thetford last week, with two more days this week, and will also include Blo Norton and Old Buckenham Halls where paintings from Prince Frederick's collection are kept, as well as the Castle Museum in Norwich and Cambridge, where he was educated.

Producer of Wavelength Films, Christina Bellamy, said: "Thetford is the main focus of the story for the simple reason it's about the Duleep Singh family who resided at Elveden Hall and Elveden Estate in the 1800s.

"Prince Frederick had a real passion for Norfolk and wanted to return some of its history and heritage. And of course it was probably the first example we have of multi culturalism in this area which is evident now."

More than 90 paintings were donated to the town in 1926 by Prince Frederick Duleep Singh. Highlights included a 16th century portrait of Queen Elizabeth, alongside landscapes and local landmarks, traditional hunting scenes and local dignitaries.

Ms Bellamy added: "This little market town is now the centre of the world as a pilgrimage for the Sikhs. The programme is very much about getting to grips with the fact this man would have been ruler of the Punjab but really loved Norfolk. These paintings have been hidden and now we're bringing them to light."

Thetford town manager Susan Glossop said: "I think it's very good for Thetford that out history is going to be shown on BBC2. We've just got the most amazing history and this is just one gem of many.

"I think as we're now doing so mush with our heritage and it will make people want to come to Thetford and also as we've got the Olympics next year and because we've just had the Royal Wedding which means visitors are interested in Norfolk because of Sandringham, we've got a good chance of people coming here too."

The film will be presented by actress and comedian Meera Syal and shown on BBC East around September.

Article by Dinesh Dhiman featured on

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