Hall looks back on link with refugees

A FORGOTTEN chapter in the history of one of Yorkshire's finest country houses is set to be resurrected in a new exhibition.

The "A Distant Country to A Country Village" exhibition focuses on the military camp for Polish refugees that was set up at Cannon Hall, Cawthorne, near Barnsley, during the Second World War.

It is running prior to a production of the play, A Distant Country by the Grass Roots theatre group, at The Civic in Barnsley, from June 7 to 10.

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All the cast of about 60 actors, singers and dancers are from the Barnsley area and some are from the town's Polish community.

A Distant Country follows the life of a Polish family during the Second World War as they travel from Poland to Barnsley via Siberia, Iran and Italy.

A spokesman for Grass Roots said: "In the Second World War Poland was ripped apart by two great powers, Russia and Germany. Lives were destroyed and many Polish people were forced to leave their homes and to travel thousands of miles to find safety.

"Many came here to Barnsley, settling, marrying and raising families. Based on accounts given by their children, A Distant Country tells the story of their courage and resilience."

The exhibition on Cannon Hall's military camp will be previewed at Cawthorne Parish Rooms from 10am to 2pm on Saturday.

Cannon Hall was previously home to the Spencer family, who made their fortune in the iron industry. It opened as a museum in 1957 and is home to a collection of art including ceramics, glass, furniture and paintings.

The hall is also home to the Regimental Museum of the 13th/18th Royal Hussars and Light Dragoons, which showcases the role of the regiment in battles such as the Charge of the Light Brigade.