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Dame Vera Lynn: An Extraordinary Life

Sat 8 January 2022 - Sun 15 May 2022

Now extended to 15 May 2022, due to popular demand.

Dame Vera Lynn: An Extraordinary Life showcases over 100 objects from the estate of the ‘Forces’ Sweetheart’, including numerous previously unseen personal items.

An Extraordinary Life offers unparalleled insight into both the public and personal life of the singer, whose songs were crucial in maintaining morale during the Second World War. The exhibition also reveals artworks by Dame Vera, who was an enthusiastic painter for much of her life. There are 20 works on display, comprising portraiture and still-lifes painted at her London home, following the Second World War, and at Ditchling, where she owned a home from 1944.

The exhibition chronicles the nine decades Dame Vera spent in the public eye, from her early days as a singer, to her wartime service in the Entertainments National Service Association (ENSA), through to her extensive post-war entertainment career and charitable works.

[The] loveliest of shows – The Telegraph

Dame Vera’s treasured secret diary from her three-month tour through Burma is being shown to the public for the first time. The Burma Star she was awarded in 1985 for her efforts is also on display.

Visitors can also see the military shorts she wore when performing to the Allied troops on her tour of Burma in 1944, alongside gold discs, photographs and 20 costumes from her incredible 90-year career.

Her wartime wedding suit and the cardboard cake from her marriage to Harry Lewis in 1941 are also on display.

A new portrait of the entertainer by Neil Gower commissioned by Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft sits at the heart of the exhibition. Visitors can purchase an exclusive print of Neil Gower’s portrait in our online shop. A display of Neil Gower’s Viva Lewes covers can be seen in the Print Gallery.

Advance booking strongly advised. Tickets from £6.50 (under 18’s go free). A discount is available for groups of 10+. Please note, the museum’s permanent collection display is currently smaller due to this large temporary exhibition.

Can’t make it to Ditchling? Follow this link for a virtual tour of the exhibition.

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