(Left) Arthur Coke, second son of the 3rd Earl of Leicester. (Right) The war memorial in Holkham village

(left) Arthur Coke, second son of the 3rd Earl of Leicester; (right) the war memorial in Holkham village.


Duty Calls: Holkham 1914 to 1918

Holkham Hall’s exhibition for 2014 commemorated the 100 year anniversary of the start of WW1. The exhibition told a small part of the story of the war’s impact on the Coke family and Holkham village.

Personal letters, archives, books, photographs and artefacts illustrated the works of the war poets, the creativity of soldier’s trench art and relate experiences and personal stories, such as Arthur Coke, second son of the 3rd Earl of Leicester and grandfather to the present 7th Earl of Leicester. Having fought in Flanders at the first battle of Ypres, Arthur transferred in 1914 to the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve Armoured Cars and later went with them to Gallipoli. Manning machine guns on the S.S. River Clyde, he helped cover the landing of troops at Sedd el Bahr on 25th April 1915. He was killed in action seven days later. Arthur took his faithful companion, Airedale Terrier, Jack, to war with him and following his death, Jack was returned to Holkham by Arthur’s fellow officers and died at Holkham in 1918 where he is buried.

As part of the exhibition, a two-thirds scale profile of a Mark V tank and a replica 20 foot section of a trench representing the Somme battlefield were on display in the courtyard. The tank and trench had been created by Norwich University of the Arts students Andrew Rhodes and Jason Billman. The works were designed and painted by the students on location at Holkham in March 2014 and both students extensively researched images from the war before starting on the ambitious project.

Click here to view a PDF showing the information panels displayed during the exhibition.