Clash of Empires: London Exhibition Showcases Confrontation Between Rorke’s Drift and iSandlwana in Anglo-Zulu War

Last Updated on: 22nd November 2023, 10:40 am

The summer museum exhibition organised by the esteemed Royal Philatelic Society London has commenced, featuring an extensive collection of over 550 historical artefacts intimately connected to the renowned Anglo-Zulu War.

Within the exhibition, visitors can marvel at original autographs belonging to Zulu King Cetshwayo, witness the largest assembly of contemporary Zulu war shields, and explore period red coats, helmets, and relics from the momentous Battles of iSandlwana and Rorke’s Drift, which were immortalized in the iconic films Zulu and Zulu Dawn.

Registered as a charity and accredited by Arts Council England (ACE), the Royal Philatelic Society London proudly hosts this month-long event at its venue located at 15 Abchurch Lane, London, EC4N 7BW. The exhibition is open from 1st to 31st July 2023, welcoming visitors from Monday to Saturday between 9.30am and 4.30pm.

Admission to the exhibition is free, but interested individuals are encouraged to secure their spot by booking at

Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the Traditional Prime Minister to the Zulu Monarch and Nation, eloquently expressed, “One hundred and forty-four years ago, on the fertile grounds of the Zulu Kingdom, Her Britannic Majesty Queen Victoria’s valiant soldiers engaged in a momentous clash with the formidable warriors led by King Cetshwayo kaMpande. It was undeniably a monumental collision of empires, as the nation forged by King Shaka kaSenzangakhona proved far more formidable than anyone in British society or the military had ever anticipated.”

On 11th January 1879, when British and Colonial forces penetrated the Zulu Kingdom, they ignited one of the most illustrious conflicts of the Victorian era. The Battle of Rorke’s Drift alone, immortalized in the acclaimed 1964 film Zulu that catapulted Sir Michael Caine to stardom, witnessed the bestowal of an astonishing eleven Victoria Crosses upon the defenders of a frontier mission post, who valiantly withstood an overwhelming Zulu assault.

This month, the Royal Philatelic Society London invites the public to immerse themselves in an awe-inspiring exhibition that presents a diverse array of postal, historical, and cultural objects, offering profound insights into the context, history, and lasting legacy of this monumental Clash of Empires.

The exhibition’s captivating narrative commences in the early 19th century, chronicling the ascendance of King Shaka kaSenzangakhona and the emergence of the majestic Zulu Kingdom. It seamlessly delves into the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879, providing a comprehensive exploration of the conflict. Moreover, the exhibition extends its reach to the year 2019, examining the enduring reverberations of the war 140 years after its inception.

Within the collection, visitors can discover poignant relics, such as a piece of soldiers’ kit sent back home to the grieving family of a fallen hero from the Battle of Rorke’s Drift. Additionally, letters penned by Lieutenants Chard and Bromhead, the two senior British officers at the battle, provide personal accounts from Zululand. The exhibition also boasts a spectacular assortment of Zulu shields, emblematic of the brave warriors who defended their homeland against British invasion in 1879.

The exhibition’s profound depth and comprehensive scope provide a rare opportunity to witness the interwoven tales of this “dramatic piece of history,” as eloquently described by Ian Knight, an esteemed historian. By incorporating hundreds of artefacts, the exhibition presents a crucial historical event from both British and Zulu perspectives, inviting visitors to embark on a captivating journey.

Prince Buthelezi acknowledges the significance of the Anglo-Zulu War and its far-reaching impact on future generations. He shared, “As you contemplate the artefacts and original letters showcased in this collection, may you experience the drama, tragedy, bravery, and dignity that define our shared history.”

This exceptional exhibition, aptly described as a “doorway into the past” by Prince Buthelezi, offers a truly immersive experience, enabling visitors to intimately explore the complexities of the Anglo-Zulu War. Through a remarkable display of over 550 historical artefacts intricately linked to the shared history of these two nations, with a particular focus on the Battles of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift, visitors are invited to delve into this remarkable historical saga. Notably, at the exhibition’s core, visitors will find captivating dioramas meticulously recreating the battles of the Anglo-Zulu War, providing a unique 360-degree perspective on these historic encounters.

Ian Knight, a renowned author and historian, remarked, “Undoubtedly, this exhibition stands as the most significant exploration of a single conflict of its kind in modern times, showcasing the widest range of physical artefacts associated with the Anglo-Zulu War and engaging both British and Zulu perspectives.”

Enthusiasts and history aficionados alike should not miss this exceptional exhibition, offering a captivating glimpse into an extraordinary clash of empires.

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