Ognisko Polskie – the Polish Hearth is one of London’s oldest Polish Clubs which today hosts a variety of theatrical, musical and other cultural events. This summer it celebrates the 80th Anniversary of establishment.
Founded in 1939 to maintain the cohesion of the free Polish community in the United Kingdom during the Second World War, it went on to become the centre of social and cultural life for the Polish community in exile. It has since served to provide a home for Poles to meet and build friendships, as a place where Polish culture and history is kept alive and where Polish identity and independence are maintained.
The Duke and Duchess of Kent had visited Poland in 1937 and had close links and friendships with members of the Polish aristocracy. After the start of the Second World War, the Duke showed his support for the country by bestowing his patronage on the Polish House after its inauguration on the 16th July 1940.
After the start of the Second World War, the Duke of Kent showed his support for the country by bestowing his patronage on the Polish House after its inauguration on the 16th July 1940.
Prince Edward, Duke of Kent is the grandson of King George V, who ruled the British Empire that expanded to over 36 million square kilometres at the time of Prince Edward birth. Being a grandson of the British monarch in the male line, he is the “Prince of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” and “His Royal Highness”. His father and father of Queen Elizabeth II were brothers.
The Duke of Kent visited Poland several times taking part in various ceremonies. He was awarded the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland for his work on the Polish-British relations.
Below you can read his letter sent to Ognisko Polskie on its 80th anniversary. The Duke is an official patron and a regular guest to Ognisko.
In the autumn of 1939 a group of Poles living in London, some of whom had only recently left their own country, decided to establish a Polish national house in London. And so, on 16th July, Ognisko Polskie, the Polish Hearth was official opened by my father.
Over the 80 years since then the Club has been a sanctuary and meeting place for the Polish community in Britain. It is, I know, a well-established and much valued feature of the London scene.
On this 80th anniversary of the Club’s inauguration I am delighted to see that it has emerged from the difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic and is gradually retuning to a normal life.
To the Chairman of the Polish Hearth and to all its members I wish every success and a prosperous future.
Source: Ognisko Polskie
Pictures: Ognisko Polskie, British Poles
Main picture: Ognisko Polskie, Portrait of His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent by Barbara Kaczmarowska HamiltonPoles in UK