November 1939 was the time when the Polish community in Great Britain started to become more and more powerful. It was then that it was first proposed in the Polish Embassy to create places where Poles would meet, connect, and, most importantly, support each other in difficult moments. And for those who could not return to their homeland – create a second home.
It was exactly at 3 pm on 16 July 1940 that the President of the Republic of Poland, Władysław Raczkiewicz, the Prime Minister, General Sikorski, the Duke of Kent, Lord Halifax, the members of the Polish Cabinet and of the National Council inaugurated the Polish House, which was given the name of the Polish Hearth. The main idea was to provide a place where our compatriots, who came from persecuted parts of Poland, could feel free and independent, at least for a while. Soon after, the building at 55, Princes Gate in London became the centre of the Polish national spirit. During various cultural, musical or theatrical events and bridge games, the whole Polish social elite living in England gathered in the Polish Hearth. General Anders, Władysław Kopaliński, General Kukiel and Colonel Bieliński even had their own tables in the club where they always sat.
Nowadays concerts, theatrical performances and recitals are still organised in the Polish House; you can also find an exquisite restaurant with prestigious culinary rankings. The idea of the Hearth has slightly changed – today it focuses more on connecting the Polish community, building unity and national support, and representing our nation on British soil with dignity. Colonel Nicholas Kelsey, who has been a regular since he was very young, was appointed Chairman in 2013 and watches over the club.
The plans for the future centre around extending its activity – opening up to other nationalities, cooperating with other organisations and propagating the Polish culture, history and tradition, as well as continuing to improve Polish-British relations. Anyone can contribute to keep the life of the club going through membership – you just have to meet some specific requirements to join this noble circle. Is it worth it? Of course!