You can read this article in Polish via a Google machine translation
Credenhill Court in the small and picturesque village of Credenhill Herefordshire, was once a hostel for Polish war veterans.
Image attribution – derivative work. Original: © Copyright Philip Pankhurst. 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Credenhill Court Polish Hostel in Herefordshire
The Credenhill Court Polish Hostel was run by the charity The Relief Society for Poles and the hostel closed in 1987. That same year Credenhill Court Rest Home opened at the same premises, as a private care home. Under an agreement reached between the Polish charity and the new owners, the remaining Polish veterans were able to receive continued care. Source: Hereford Times article dated 15 March 2005.
Background – The Polish Resettlement Act of 1947
The Polish Resettlement Act of 1947 came about because the vast majority of Polish war veterans refused to be returned to Poland. These soldiers had fought for their freedom and ours, in Poland, the UK and in many other countries involved in World War II. The soldiers knew that in Poland under the communist regime, at best they would be denied equal opportunities and at worst they would suffer persecution, detention and possibly death at the hands of the new regime.
To address this situation, the UK Government was forced to create the first piece of mass immigration law that would accommodate the wish of the Polish soldiers to stay in the UK. The result of this legislation was The Polish Resettlement Act 1947, which in turn led to the formation of the post-war Polish community in the UK.
The first Polish Resettlement Camps in the UK were formed in 1946. By the end of that year, approximately 120,000 soldiers and dependants had been accommodated in 265 camps throughout the UK. It is estimated that by the end of 1949 around 150,000 Polish soldiers and their dependants were settled in the UK. Over the coming years, this number would rise to nearly 250,00 as more dependants and descendants arrived in the UK. Source: Agata Błaszczyk writing for Forced Migration Review.
The Polish Resettlement Camp in Foxley near Hereford
Foxley Polish Resettlement Camp near Hereford was established in 1946. Foxley was one of several Polish camps in the West Midlands and when it closed in 1958 some of the residents were accommodated nearby at the Polish Hostel in Credenhill. They lived there until the closure of the Hostel in 1987. As mentioned in the introduction of this article, the remaining Polish veterans were able to continue living in the privately run Credenhill Court Rest Home.
The residents lived in the Polish Hostel because they would have had difficulty leading independent lives in the community. That was due to what today would be recognised as post-traumatic stress disorder and in some cases a lack of English language skills.
I visited the Polish Hostel in Credenhill on many occasions, as in the early to mid-1980s my late father was a full-time warden at the hostel. My father, who was himself a World War II veteran, was very proud of the assistance he was able to give the residents. He was also very indebted to volunteers from the local community for their invaluable work in making life better for the residents.
Volunteers from RAF Hereford at the Polish Hostel in Credenhill
Aleksander Rodziewicz – the Warden, receiving a donation from RAF Hereford for individual Christmas parcels for the residents. The photograph is dated December 1984 and is from the Rodziewicz family collection. The author of this photograph is unknown and the photograph may be an orphan work. The owners of the original hard copy photograph are the Rodziewicz family. Permission is not granted by the family, for re-use of this photograph.
I would very much like to name all the people in the photograph. The volunteers and residents pictured are an important part of the history of Credenhill Court. If you have further information, please do contact me.
Central Television visits Credenhill Court
In 1983 a TV crew from Central Television visited Credenhill Court to interview my father and Mr Michael Burn, a volunteer who tirelessly gave his time for the Polish Hostel and residents. The footage from the film clip gives you a sense of daily life at Crednhill Court.
Watch the Video at the Media Archive for Central England (MACE)
View the film: macearchive.org/films/central-lobby-21071983-polish-hostel
I returned to Credenhill Court for a private visit
In the mid-2015s, my wife and I visited Credenhill Court Rest Home. We were most grateful to the management of the care home, who very kindly let us visit the home. We were equally grateful to the care home staff who showed us around. We met a Polish resident of the home who arrived long after the Relief Society for Poles transferred management to the new owners. It was fascinating to hear first-hand of what life was like in the home during later times. The resident told us that he was very happy living in the care home.
Afterwards, we visited St Mary’s Church and the churchyard where the Polish veterans now rest. The church is adjacent to Credenhill Court.
Photographs of St Mary’s Church
Attribution of St Mary’s Church photographs above: © Copyright Philip Pankhurst (cc-by-sa/2.0)
Some of the Polish Veterans graves in St Mary’s churchyard
Churchyard photographs above: © Copyright Nina Rodziewicz / St Mary’s Churchyard, Credenhill. Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs (CC BY-NC-ND). A link back to this web page will be most appreciated.
Memorial to the Polish Veterans in St Mary’s Churchyard
Memorial photograph above: © Copyright Nina Rodziewicz / Memorial to the Polish Veterans in St Mary’s Churchyard. Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs (CC BY-NC-ND). A link back to this web page will be most appreciated.
Appeal for Information
If you have further information (or corrections) that could help make this article about the Credenhill Court Polish Hostel more complete, please contact me. You can write to me in English or Polish.
This article is dedicated to the memory of Polish veterans who lived at Credenhill Court Polish Hostel and to all the staff and volunteers who cared for them throughout the many years the hostel was in operation.
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