New exhibition marks Lowestoft connection in hit film

PUBLISHED: 18:00 23 February 2015

Testament of Youth. Picture: Supplied

Testament of Youth. Picture: Supplied


First World War memoirs tend to encapsulate the poignant feelings of individuals, but one woman’s thoughts have been made into a box office film which has some major links to Lowestoft.

The Testament of Youth tells the story of love and remembrance with Vera Brittain postponing her studies at Oxford University during the First World War to serve as a Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse in London, Malta and France.

Although the link to Lowestoft is not shown in the film, an exhibition has been set up in Lowestoft Record Office, at Lowestoft Library, as shortly after winning a scholarship at Oxford, Vera fell in love with her brother’s friend Roland Leighton, who has close associations with the town.

His parents Robert and Marie owned a summer home on Gunton Cliff, which became their permanent residence in 1913 after they gave up their house in St John’s Wood, London. Roland Leighton lived in this home named The Heather Cliff while working as the recruiting officer for Lowestoft in 1914.

Vera visited the town in August 1915, before Roland moved to Norwich.

In the exhibition, which will be in the record office until the end of the month, visitors can browse pictures of the family home, ordinance survey maps, street directories, medal rolls and portraits of Vera Brittain.

The exhibition was put together by a Research and Searchroom Assistant at the Lowestoft Record Office.She said: “I went to see if the connection to Lowestoft might turn up but there was not a hint of Lowestoft in it.

“I heard someone sitting behind me pontificating to someone else it had a Lowestoft connection but they were totally offline as to what it was.

“So I thought I think it could do with a promotion that Roland Leighton does have a Lowestoft connection.”

The Testament of Youth is being screened at the Marina Theatre in Lowestoft tonight (Monday) at 7.30pm, Tuesday at 2.30pm and Wednesday at 2.30pm and 7.30pm.

On Saturday 28, the Lowestoft Record Office is running a First World War Records workshop.

This one-hour session begins at 10.30am and costs £5. For more information, or to book, call 01502 674680.

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