In 1952 Polish scouts from the “Szczecin” Region (South-West, England) first camped in the fields of the Wye Valley. Just 3 years later the first cub camp for 11 cubs and brownies took place in Prospect Cottage – now a bed & breakfast. The following year a larger building was needed to accommodate the cubs and brownies and the local farmer let them use the building called Woodside House – now the Polish Scout House. The American forces who were in the process of dismantling their facilities here in the UK, and returning home, kindly offered to transport camping equipment, beds and other materials to the new site to enable it to be used.
In 1961 the site and buildings were put up for sale by the owner. The Polish Scouting Association did not have the necessary funds to buy the facility. Fortunately, there were a number of people who recognised the huge potential this site offered to develop Polish Scouting. Guide Leader Irena Mydlarzowa donated part of the compensation she had received for being interned in a German concentration camp during the war. Scout Leader Władysław Ciechan offered a large, interest free, long term loan. Other people gave modest donations, as much as they could afford. The remaining sums of money were raised through organised events, dances and various lotteries. The Polish Scout House site was finally purchased in January 1962 and the first ‘working’ weekend was held there on the 4th March. The building was in poor condition and required major works to make it habitable. Those ‘working’ weekends were held throughout the year to prepare the facilities for use. The celebratory opening event took place on 4th August 1963. The guest of honour was General Tadeusz Bór-Komorowski (who had been Prime Minister of the Polish Government in Exile as well as the leader of the Polish underground army during the Warsaw Uprising of 1944). The blessing of the site was undertaken by the Reverend Bronisław Michalski. From those early days, the site that is situated in the Regional Commissions of “Szczecin” and “Pomorze” is used annually by cubs, brownies, scouts and guides from across the UK.
For more than 50 years the “Szczecin” Regional Commission have taken responsibility for managing the facility. The “Pomorze” Regional Commission, together with their leaders and helpers and friends from around the country have offered help and support. Over time the standard of the facilities and the site in general improved. In addition monuments were erected to Our Lady in Exile, a memorial to all fallen Polish servicemen and women in World War II and the bell tower in memory of reverend Edward Rytko a scout and chaplain for the “Szczecin” scouts. Next to the site is a beautiful chapel dedicated to Divine Mercy funded by Professor Władysław Zych who used to live at Blue Barn. The chapel is managed and regularly used by the scouts.
The Polish Scout House is owned by Polish Scouting in the UK and is registered with the Charity Commission as Polish Scouting Association (UK Region) Limited.