Precious loans feature in war time exhibition

Tuesday 8th April 2014 10:00 pm

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A WHISTLE made out of a bullet, a 1912 penny with a bullet lodged in it, a German trench shovel, a love poem in an autograph book, a forget-me-not embroidered French postcard and a book of letters from a Tavistock mother to her son — these are only some of the items in a new First World War exhibition at historic Cotehele House in East Cornwall.

All of the items for the exhibition have been loaned to Cotehele by local residents.

Rachel Hunt, Cotehele house and collections manager, said: 'Last autumn we sent out a press release to gauge local interest for an exhibition about the Great War and the response was astounding.

'Our volunteers, who put the exhibition together, have essentially created a repository for the community's First World War memories.

'The exhibition has stirred up recollections of people's parents, grandparents and other family members and has given them the opportunity to commemorate their lives in a special way.

'The exhibition is a way of bringing people together. As well as touching our volunteers and existing visitors, we've also heard from a lot of the community who don't regularly visit Cotehele.'

Cotehele volunteer Des Cook has lent Cotehele some of his personal family items.

His father, Bombardier (Lance Corporal) Roland Cook, volunteered with three friends soon after the war began.

Roland, who served as an outrider in charge of a gun team, can be seen in a photo wearing his uniform, complete with spurs.

Next to the photo in the display case are his spurs and two of his medals.

Des said: 'My wife and I have these things in our house, but to be able to share them at Cotehele where so many more people can see them makes me feel quite proud.'

Cotehele's exhibition contains both a permanent display reflecting the entire First World War from 1914 to 1918, and one that rotates annually and is based on a different theme. This year's theme is entitled '1914 — Over by Christmas'.

The exhibition runs until 2018 and can be found in the Breakfast Room during usual house opening times.

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