Patricia Wilson Smith worked closely with students to curate ‘Canterbury at War’, an exhibition currently on display in The Beaney Front Room, Oct 4 – Nov 9 2014

The exhibition opened on Saturday and I was around to talk with anyone who wanted to know more about the exhibition. One lady told me that her mother knew ‘Fanny’ (Frances) Aitken, whose drawing certificate is in the display case, and that they were friends during the war years. She said that her grandfather was a vet and travelled around by pony trap. His pony was one of many that were taken by the army to be used in France. Another visitor was very interested in the songs, and I have to say that, sung by members of the Simon Langton Boys’ Choir, they have a movingly authentic quality.

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People seemed to find the information very accessible, and I was pleased that they found the text panels interesting. Several visitors expressed interest in the men shot at dawn for cowardice or desertion. These men were pardoned posthumously in 2006 and the full list was published. On the list are four young men from battalions of The Buffs. Having, by now, read several verbatim accounts and memoirs of life in the Trenches, I can honestly say I’m surprised that the number (306 men) is so small: the conditions were unimaginably bad, and many of these soldiers were very young and inexperienced.

Several visitors commented on Simon Langton Girls School pupil, Ellie Patten’s poem One Wrong Step, finding it very moving , and they enjoyed the recipe book made by Ella Sbaraini & Jo Thyssen, and Fleur Elkerton’s Zine . Some of the recipes can be seen in the folder next to the comments pages.

During the day poppies were added to the Remembrance Wall and it will be interesting to see how the wall fills up over the next few weeks!

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Visit ‘Canterbury at War’ in The Beaney Front Room | Oct 4 – 9 Nov | Monday – Saturday 9am – 5pm, Sunday 10am – 5pm | Create a Remembrance Poppy in the Explorers & Collectors Gallery upstairs [Family Activity]

Find out more at ‘Flight’ in St Marys Church, Lower Hardres, nr Canterbury Oct 18 – Nov 2nd.