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ArtClash of Artefacts: Rorke’s Drift and iSandlwana Meet in a London Exhibition

Clash of Artefacts: Rorke’s Drift and iSandlwana Meet in a London Exhibition

The summer museum exhibition hosted by The Royal Philatelic Society London unveils a remarkable collection of over 550 historical artefacts linked to the Anglo-Zulu War.

Within the exhibition, visitors can marvel at original autographs from Zulu King Cetshwayo, a remarkable assembly of period Zulu war shields, authentic red coats and helmets, and artifacts from the renowned Battles of iSandlwana and Rorke’s Drift, which inspired the iconic films “Zulu” and “Zulu Dawn.”

The esteemed Royal Philatelic Society London, a registered charity and an Arts Council England (ACE) accredited museum, welcomes guests to this month-long event held at 15 Abchurch Lane, London, EC4N 7BW. Running from 1st to 31st July 2023, the exhibition is open from Monday to Saturday, 9.30 am to 4.30 pm.

Admission to the exhibition is free, but interested individuals are encouraged to book their attendance at clashofempires.org. Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, Traditional Prime Minister to the Zulu Monarch and Nation, remarked, “One hundred and forty-four years ago, on the fertile soil of the Zulu Kingdom, the valiant soldiers of Her Britannic Majesty Queen Victoria clashed with the warriors of King Cetshwayo kaMpande. It was truly a clash of empires, as the nation shaped by King Shaka kaSenzangakhona proved far more formidable than anyone in British society or the military could have anticipated.”

The invasion of the Zulu Kingdom by British and Colonial forces on 11th January 1879 ignited one of the most legendary conflicts of the Victorian era. The Battle of Rorke’s Drift alone, famously portrayed in the 1964 film “Zulu” that launched Sir Michael Caine’s career, witnessed the extraordinary valor of the defenders of a border mission post, who were awarded a remarkable eleven Victoria Crosses for their heroic resistance against overwhelming Zulu attacks.

This month, The Royal Philatelic Society London proudly hosts a public exhibition featuring postal, historical, and cultural objects that delve into the context, history, and lasting legacy of this monumental Clash of Empires.

The exhibition’s narrative commences in the early 19th century, exploring the rise of King Shaka kaSenzangakhona and the emergence of the formidable Zulu Kingdom. It casts a spotlight on the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879.

The journey extends to 2019, examining the war’s enduring reverberations 140 years after its commencement. Among the collection’s treasures are items of soldiers’ gear sent back home to the families of those who fell at the Battle of Rorke’s Drift, as well as letters penned from Zululand by Lieutenants Chard and Bromhead, the two senior British officers present at the battle. Furthermore, the exhibition showcases an awe-inspiring array of Zulu shields carried into battle by warriors defending their homeland against the British incursion in 1879.

With its breadth and depth, this exhibition presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to witness the interconnected stories of this “captivating piece of history,” as described by Ian Knight, an esteemed historian. It encapsulates the pivotal historical event from both British and Zulu perspectives, with hundreds of unique artefacts.

Prince Buthelezi acknowledges the relevance of the Anglo-Zulu War and its profound impact on future generations. He remarked, “As you contemplate the artefacts and original letters within this collection, I hope you will experience the drama, tragedy, valor, and dignity of this shared history.”

This extraordinary exhibition, as Prince Buthelezi aptly describes it as a “doorway into the past,” immerses visitors in an intimate exploration of the Anglo-Zulu War through an extensive display of more than 550 historical artefacts associated with the intertwined history of these two nations. The exhibition places particular emphasis on the Battles of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift, immortalized in the acclaimed films “Zulu” (1964), featuring Michael Caine, and “Zulu Dawn” (1979), starring Peter O’Toole.

At the heart of the exhibition stands a magnificent pair of dioramas that faithfully replicate the battles of the Anglo-Zulu War, offering visitors a unique 360-degree perspective of the unfolding events.

Ian Knight, renowned author and historian, affirms, “Undoubtedly, this exhibition stands as the most significant exploration of a single conflict of this nature in modern times. It presents the widest range of physical artefacts linked to the Anglo-Zulu War and engages both British and Zulu perspectives.”

Don’t miss this extraordinary opportunity to delve into the clash of empires through the lens of history. Plan your visit to this unparalleled exhibition and witness the stories told by these captivating artefacts that bring the past to life.

Sam Allcock
Sam Allcock
With over 20 years of experience in the field SEO and digital marketing, Sam Allcock is a highly regarded entrepreneur. He is based in Cheshire but has an interest in all things going on in the North West and enjoys contributing local news to the site.
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