The New Year got off to a cracking start for The Pakistan Society with a visit by almost thirty members to Saint Luke’s Church, Chelsea and to the National Army Museum, also in Chelsea, on Wednesday 5th January 2011.
Saint Luke’s was of interest because it was chosen to house the Regimental and other ecclesiastic memorials of the Punjab Frontier Force, the ‘Piffers’, after the Independence of Pakistan in 1947, when there was a misplaced concern about the future of such artefacts. The Lady Chapel at Saint Luke’s became dedicated as a Memorial Chapel to the Piffers. An interesting talk on the history of the Punjab Frontier Force and the Memorial Chapel was given by our own Charles Vyvyan, who is a graduate of the Pakistan National Defence College, and information on the church by Curate Alison Craven followed.
In more recent times many of the artefacts were moved to the nearby National Army Museum, but there remained in the Sanctum many to the 3rd (Queen Alexandra’s Own) Gurkha Rifles, which were enjoyed by a quick visit to that location.
After an enjoyable stroll along the King’s Road, we arrived at the National Army Museum to be met by the Curator of Fine and Decorative Art, Mr Pip Dodd, who then took us to see those Piffer memorials that were on display in the main galleries. Many more were in storage. There then followed a conducted tour of the special exhibition ‘Indian Armies, Indian Art – Soldiers, Collectors and Artists 1780-1880, when we were joined by the Director of the Museum, Dr Janice Murray and other members of the museum staff.
The event finished in the main art gallery and a delicious light lunch. We are all indebted to the staff of Saint Luke’s and of the National Army Museum for making us feel so welcome and to Charles Vyvyan for facilitating such a memorable occasion.