Wardown House, Museum and Gallery celebrates Luton’s history in royal style with a visit from HRH The Duke of Gloucester to tour the Museum and the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment Gallery.


Wardown House hosted a visit from His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester on Wednesday 15 May when HRH came to visit one of Bedfordshire’s leading museums.

Greeted by the Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire, Colonel Chris Sharwood-Smith MBE, His Royal Highness received a warm Luton town welcome from host Karen Perkins (Director of Culture and Engagement at Luton Culture) and invited guests including High Sheriff of Bedfordshire Meryl Dolling and Luton’s Deputy Mayor, Cllr Mark Rivers, plus an excited group of local school children from Richmond Hill School.

The visit included a tour of some of the key historic rooms of Wardown House from Karen Perkins. She talked with His Royal Highness about Luton Culture’s vast collections and artefacts, and about local community involvement in the Museum, both in its redevelopment and with regard to its ground-breaking Museum Makers volunteer programme which has over 1400 sign ups from local enthusiasts.

His Royal Highness went on to tour The Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment Gallery, led by Chair of the Trustees John Maddox DL, showcasing local military exhibits including the treasured Victoria Cross awarded to regimental Lieutenant-Colonel John Stanhope Collings-Wells VC DSO for “conspicuous bravery, skilful leading and handling of his battalion in very critical situations during a withdrawal” between the 22nd and 27th March 1918 during the WW1 fighting from Marcoing to Albert, France. (Quote from London Gazette, 24 April 1918).

Concluding his visit to the gallery, His Royal Highness was presented with a copy of the book ‘Cap Badge: The Story of the Four Battalions of the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment, 1939 – 1947’, by Major Robin H Medley, exploring the Second World War history of the County regiment.

The Duke of Gloucester is a grandson of George V and first cousin to The Queen, and is Honorary Colonel of the Royal Anglian Regiment, of which the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment Gallery was a part historically.

Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire Colonel Chris Sharwood-Smith MBE said after the visit “it was a genuine privilege and pleasure to welcome His Royal Highness to Wardown House Museum and Gallery during his three-part visit to Bedfordshire. We are delighted that HRH had the opportunity to learn more about the history of the various exhibits on show. It is evident that the staff and volunteers at Wardown House Museum and Gallery take great pride in this interesting tourist attraction which brings in many people locally and beyond Bedfordshire”.

Quote from Marie Kirbyshaw, Chief Executive of Luton Culture:

‘We are so honoured to host HRH The Duke of Gloucester at Wardown House, Museum and Gallery. We are proud to be able to celebrate the heritage of our town, its people and their stories with all our visitors, which allows us to further our mission of providing high-quality cultural experiences to our communities and beyond. Luton has a fascinating past and to share that with a key member of the Royal Family was a huge pleasure for us all.’