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Henley Standard

Poles stage Whitsun protest

AROUND 2,000 Poles took to the fields surrounding Fawley Court in protest at its ?22 million sale by Polish Catholic priests.

The demonstration on Whitsunday was designed to show how Poles feel cheated by the Marian Fathers, who had owned the property since 1953.

The protesters believe that Fawley Court and its land is a “piece of Poland”. One, Bozena Karol, said: “The Polish community believes that they provided most of the money for Fawley Court’s purchase and the committee representing them continues its dispute with the Marians.”

The Whitsum celebrations continued as normal with a midday mass in St Anne’s Church, which could not hold the entire congregation.

Afterwards, people signed a petition against the sale before walking through the grounds, sunbathing and holding barbecues. Ms Karol warned that the sale would be bad for the local economy.

She said: “If you look around Henley there are only two stately homes, Fawley Court and Stonor Park. If Fawley Court was turned into a hotel, then Henley would lose an amenity. Hundreds and thousands of people visit Fawley Court and Henley every year and it would mean fewer visitors. The last words that could be heard as people left were ‘See you next year’.” After the Second World War, Fawley Court was a school for the sons of Polish families and it once held a museum and library of historic Polish texts, all of which were eventually sent back to Poland.

The fathers purchased the building and 27 acres of land from Scottish Banker Edward Mackenzie in 1953. The school closed in 1986. The buildings have been used by the Marian Fathers as a retreat and conference centre.

Published on 15 June 2009

 Komitet Obrony Dziedzictwa Narodowego Fawley Court, , e-mail: savefawley@hotmail.com
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