A new exhibition exploring the history of a Polish community in a local village has launched at Wrexham Museum.
International events and local history come together to tell the story of ‘Penley Hospital: The Story of a Polish Community in Wales’, which opened its doors to the public on Monday.
Eighty years ago the Wehrmacht and the Red Army swept across the borders of Poland setting in motion a train of events that would lead to the establishment of three Polish hospitals in the Welsh countryside near Wrexham, in the village of Penley and the grounds of two country houses, Iscoyd Park and Llannerch Panna.
The hospitals were staffed by Polish medics and nurses whose job was to care for the thousands of Polish servicemen and service women displaced from their homes, battle worn and weary, and now living in post-war Britain.
The hospitals became the focal point of a Polish community whose story is told in this new exhibition.
Created with the help of former residents of Penley Hospital camp and volunteers, the exhibition includes:
• Artefacts from the former hospital and its chapel such as the reredos (a three-part artwork centred on the Madonna and Child.
• A film based on archive recordings of life at the hospital in the 1960s
• Oral histories of former residents and staff at the hospital
• A slideshow of photographs of the community
• A chance for younger ones to dress up in Polish style national costume, following a well-established tradition at Penley.
A reunion of former staff and families connected to Penley Hospital is planned for May.
Councillor Hugh Jones, deputy leader of Wrexham County Borough Council, said “I would like to thank all those who have helped staff at the museum to stage this exhibition.
“Your assistance and involvement has been invaluable in telling the amazing story of the Polish community who were unable to return home to Poland because of the Communist regime in that country and the Soviet occupation of their homeland. Their story still resonates today.”
Councillor John McCusker, Member for Overton Ward said: “I am very pleased to see this interest from the County Borough Museum in the extraordinary history of the village of Penley and how the arrival of the Polish community had a huge impact on the village.
“Relatives of former residents still revisit the area and are always made very welcome.”
The exhibition will run at Wrexham Museum until June 22nd 2019 and is open Monday – Friday 10am to 5pm and Saturday 11am to 4pm. Admission is free.
Courtyard Café at the museum is open 10am to 4:30pm.
For more information contact the museum on 01978 297460
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