There has been an established Polish presence in Surrey since the early twentieth century, with migrant workers finding their way to the county from London for employment, or setting up their own businesses.

A large number of Poles, however, came to the UK during the Second World War either as servicemen in the Polish Allied Forces, refugees, or members of the Polish Resettlement Corps (PRC). Some 2000 settled in Surrey, a significant proportion of these found their way to Witley, near Godalming, and a resettlement camp at Tweedsmuir Camp, near Tilford.

Modezelan family documents from The Tweedsmuir Project archives (SHC ref 9196/1/2/- ; courtesy of The Tweedsmuir Project)

Modezelan family documents from The Tweedsmuir Project archives (SHC ref 9196/1/2/- ;
courtesy of The Tweedsmuir Project)

Click here to discover more about life at Tweedsmuir and the project celebrating the history of the camp.

Polish pilots at Kenley with their fighter plane, September 1940 (SHC ref 4209/3/115/1).

Polish pilots at Kenley with their fighter plane, September 1940 (SHC ref 4209/3/115/1).

There are many surprising connections with Poland and the Polish community in Surrey in the Surrey History Centre archives. These range from C16th correspondence in the Loseley manuscripts, to photographs of Poland from 1905 in the Vaughan-Williams papers, and the charitable aid programmes for Poland from the 1960s-1980s.

‘The Market Place Cracow’, 1905 (SHC ref 6536/72)

‘The Market Place Cracow’, 1905
(SHC ref 6536/72)

For a guide to Sources at Surrey History Centre for researching Polish history and the Polish community click here.

For a Bibliography for researching Polish history in Surrey click here.

Some notable Poles have made Surrey their home over the years, for example the poet Marian Hemar, who lived in Coldharbour. Others, such as Polish soldier Aleksander Jarzembowski, found themselves in Surrey at the end of the Second World War, unable to return to their homeland.

Can you help?

Do you have stories of the Polish community in Surrey? Do you have family documents, or other information, which we can add to the archives? We would very much like to hear from anyone who can help. Please contact Di Stiff, Collections Development Archivist on 01483 518737 or email: [email protected]

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