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Painting of crowd

Families looking to immerse themselves in the history of the Second World War over the Easter holidays should head to Lydiard House.

A brand-new exhibition, ‘Lest We Forget’, is now open at Lydiard House Museum and explores the Black contribution to the World Wars and the links to Wiltshire.

In 1943 the American 101st Airborne division constructed a military hospital in the grounds of Lydiard Park and troops were stationed there, including African American GIs.

‘Lest We Forget’ respectfully tells some of the stories and experiences of the Black community living and working in the Armed forces in Wiltshire during that time.

The exhibition at Lydiard House is part of a larger exhibition developed by Wiltshire Museum as part of the Wessex Museums Partnership.

On display is fascinating archive material from the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre and the National Archives, and a poignant memorial wreath from Wiltshire Museum.

Objects and artwork from the collection at Museum and Art Swindon form a key part of the exhibition, including a painting of Regent Circus in 1945 by local artist Harold Dearden and a wooden cross from the grave of an unknown Wiltshire soldier.

And next Thursday (11 April), families can follow in the footsteps of Second World War code breakers by taking part in the Signals & Cipher activity. Participants can send messages via Morse Code, make a circuit to send a message, send a Semaphone message and have a go at cracking some other letter codes.

Children must be accompanied by an adult and 30-minute slots are available at 11.30am, 12.30pm 1.30pm and 2.30pm.

The activity is free with museum entry, which is priced at £6.30 for adults, £3.45 for children (aged 3-15), £5.55 for seniors (65+) and students, while a number of family tickets are also available. Under threes go free.

Booking onto the activity is recommended as numbers are limited for each session. Places can be booked by emailing LydiardLearning@swindon.gov.uk

Frances Yeo, Swindon Museums Manager, said: “I’m delighted that we’re able to present such a powerful and thought provoking exhibition at Lydiard House Museum, and especially one that ties in so well with the history of Lydiard and the surrounding area.

“This is the first exhibition in Swindon which showcases our joint working as part of the Wessex Museums Partnership, and visitors have already been struck by the quality and detail of the exhibition and research behind it.

“I’m really hoping that our younger visitors will enjoy our related Signals and Ciphers activities, which provides great value as it’s included in our regular museum admission price.”

For more information about Lydiard House and the Museum visit: https://www.lydiardpark.org.uk/visit/museum/