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Anglo Sikh Wars: Battles, Treaties and Relics 1845-1849 exhibition

Anglo Sikh Wars: Battles, Treaties and Relics 1845-1849
11 March – 4 June 2017
Newarke Houses Museum & Gardens

For the first time ever, a hidden era of British and Sikh history will be coming alive through a unique exhibition in Leicester. The project will showcase relics that have been 3D modelled and will use augmented reality technology to bring alive the story of the battles and treaties from the Anglo Sikh Wars that took place from 1845 – 1849.

The wars were fought between the Sikh Empire and the East India Company through a number of battles leading to the annexation of the Punjab in 1849. These battles took place in India and Pakistan where the British were led by generals who had fought in many military campaigns, like the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815), whilst the Sikhs were led by remnants of the Sikh Armies created by Maharajah Ranjit Singh (1780-1839).

The exhibition tells the story of the battles through a number of artefacts which were captured by British regiments including swords, manuscripts, paintings and other objects from the battlefields. With the annexation of the Punjab in 1849, Maharaja Duleep Singh became a ward of the British and the famous Kohinoor diamond was prized from the Sikhs as part of the Treaty of Lahore. The Kohinoor was later put on display in the great Exhibition of 1851 in London; a 3D interactive of the diamond will be one of the highlights of the exhibition.

There will also be a parallel display at the University of Leicester from March to April where copies of the London Illustrated News and other publications can be viewed from the period.

The Sikh Museum Initiative is a Leicester based organisation which works with museums, galleries and private collectors to bring Sikh relics and artefacts into the open for the public to see. To find out more, visit www.anglosikhwars.com and www.sikhmuseum.org.uk

Project is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.


The below events programme complements the exhibition and its key themes. All events take place at Newarke Houses Museum. Thanks to support from the Heritage Lottery Fund all the below events are free admission.

We anticipate high demand for the talks programme, so please book online at www.anglosikhwars.com

Sikh Empire and the causes of the Anglo Sikh Wars:
Bobby Bansal, documentary maker and author
Saturday 11 March
1pm – 3pm
Maharaja Ranjit Singh built up the mighty Sikh Empire, which became one of the wealthiest regions of Asia. However after his death the empire faced internal strife with war with the British becoming a certainty. The lecture looks at the Sikh Empire and what led to the first Anglo Sikh War in 1845.

Empire in the balance: Chillianwallah and Gujarat
Amarpal Singh Sidhu-Military historian and author
Wednesday 22 March
6pm – 7.30pm

The two battles which formed part of the second Anglo Sikh War in 1849 will be compared and contrasted by Amarpal Singh. The Sikhs were led by Sher Singh which fought against the British forces led by Hugh Gough. Using battlefield maps the military strategies employed by the Sikhs and the British will be discussed.

‘The Lions Teeth; Sikh Artillery from the Anglo-Sikh Wars’
Neil Carleton, Senior Documentation Officer, V&A

Saturday 1 April
1pm – 3pm

For the last twenty years Neil Carleton has studied the history and development of Sikh artillery during the 18th and 19th centuries. Many pieces were captured during the Anglo-Sikh Wars and brought to Europe as trophies. His research has helped identify surviving examples of Sikh cannon in museum collections that remained little known about or largely unrecognised.

This talk outlines their development and the story behind how they came to be preserved as potent symbols of the military strength and sophistication of the former Sikh Kingdom of Lahore. It also shows their historical significance as works of art and examples of the metalworking skills and technical expertise of Panjabi craftsmen and engineers.

From Sada Kaur to Jind Kaur: the Tradition of Female Leadership in Punjab
Priya Atwal, PHD candidate Oxford University
Thursday 4 May
6pm – 7.30pm

The talk will give a brief overview of elite Punjabi women who were precursors to Jind Kaur’s regency, and who played a leading role in handling the military and administrative affairs of the Punjab. The talk will also consider Jind Kaur’s own period of rule, and her complicated relationships with Duleep Singh, the Khalsa Army, Lahore Durbar and British officers from a gendered perspective.

Anglo Sikh Wars: The Military Legacy of British India – Iain Smith, military historian
Thursday 18 May
6pm – 7.30pm
The Anglo Sikh Wars showed the British the fighting prowess of the Sikhs, This was acknowledged by the British commanders and soldiers. After annexation of the Punjab in 1846 many Sikhs were recruited by the British and formed the backbone of the British Indian army. The lecture discusses the transition and how these new regiments were formed.

After Annexation: Frontier Defence to the last stand at Saragarhi
Jay-Singh Sohal-Documentary maker and author
Sunday 4 June
1pm – 3pm

After the Anglo-Sikh Wars, Sikhs transitioned within a generation from being the fiercest of British foes to the staunchest of imperial allies. Discover this journey through photographs and accounts of the time how and why Sikhs fought for Britain, from New Delhi to the frontier.

In this engaging talk from journalist and filmmaker Jay Singh-Sohal, discover the story of Sikh service and the valiant last stand at Saragarhi in commemoration of the battle’s 120th anniversary.

Arts and Crafts activities

There will be a number of arts and crafts activities tailored for children in the half term holidays. The dates are

Arts and Crafts session 18th and 20th April 2017  1pm-3.30pm

Arts and Crafts session 31st May 2017 1pm-3.30pm

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