Religion played an important part in the lives of the people; most were Roman Catholic with some Orthodox Christians. Establishing a chapel at the hostel was a priority where people could pray together - faith gave them hope for a better life.


The first priest assigned to Marsworth was Fr. Leon Frankowski (1946-49), then Fr. Ludwik Zmikowski (1949-1952). He was succeeded by Fr. Wlodzimierz Cienski (1952 -54) and Fr. Marcin Bardel (1954-1961) who was priest until the hostel closed; he then became parish priest for the Polish community in Luton/Dunstable until 1967.  Fr. Bardel recorded his experiences of those years in a chapter in his memoirs which were published in 1974.  Click on this link to read that chapter.


A chapel was established in a Nissen hut at the Hostel. Masses were held there, as well as christenings, weddings and First Communion celebrations. There were also annual religious festivals such as Corpus Christi which were part of Polish culture.



1949 Corpus Christi procession around the Hostel sites

Corpus Christi procession


Corpus Christi procession


Corpus Christi procession


Corpus Christi procession


Corpus Christi

The celebration of Corpus Christi in June is an important event in the Roman Catholic calendar. It always involves a large procession, and at Marsworth Hostel this procession took place around the various sites, with altars set up at each one.


Above: Fr Zmikowski carries the Host, with the Hostel chapel behind.



2 girls praying in front of altar


Decorated altars were set up at each of the site locations.



Corpus Christi 1949, Marsworth        


Not all the processions were held on fine days. Here is a distinctly wet English June day with winter coats and umbrellas!

Fr Zmikowski with Hostel chapel behind

The funeral of Father Zmikowski, Marsworth Camp, 1952

Photo from Irena Sokolowska (carrying wreath)

Father Ludwik Zmikowski

Fr Zmikowski had been senior chaplain in the Polish army and a prisoner in Dachau.


He was born in 1901 in the town of Koszowata in Ukraine. He was ordained a priest in 1926, taken prisoner as a chaplain of Polish troops on 13.09.1939, and imprisoned successively in Kleinexen, Linz, Rottenburg, Buchenwald, and in Dachau camp.  Source: Fr Bardel. Click here to find out more about Fr Bardel


He served the Hostel from 1949-1952 and was a very popular priest. 


He was killed tragically in June 1952 in a car accident at New Mill, Tring, while going to Tring for medicine for a sick woman from the camp.


Photo from Barbara Winnik - Franciszka Klisz on left carrying wreath


His funeral was the occasion of an amazing expression of grief and respect.


He is buried in All Saints churchyard.

Photo: Barbara Winnik

First Holy Communion

Photo: Barbara Winnik

This was an important event in each child's religious life. After the service in the chapel a celebratory meal took place.


Photo: Zig Latysonek
Photo: Barbara Winnik
Klisz-Tomkowski wedding in 1954
Wladyslaw and Julia Lyjak, 1949
Wedding of Kazimiera Sarafin and Franciczek Ruszel outside one of the huts, perhaps the chapel


Of course there were many weddings. Some took place in Aylesbury, and some in the Hostel chapel.



Tobiasz wedding, about 1953
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