Frome BA11 1PT
A hundred years ago this autumn General Allenby marched into Jerusalem. To some, it was the culmination of a dream, but Britain’s thirty-year rule of Palestine rapidly became a nightmare.
Conflicting and contradictory promises were made to both Arabs and Jews. In November 1917, the British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour pledged to create “a national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine, “it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of the existing non Jewish communities in Palestine”. The so-called Balfour Declaration was to have profound and lasting effects.
Large numbers of people took part in Britain’s Palestine experience. Some came from Frome. Others had descendants who now live in Frome. This exhibition tells the story of the town’s connection with Palestine, from the heady days of the Palestine Exploration Fund, through the era of religious enthusiasts, refugees and tourists, the soldiers who served and sometimes died in the Great War, to the public servants and policemen who tried to make the Mandate work. Local experiences are set in the context of wider events using materials from the Britain in Palestine exhibition of 2012, which was held at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London to much acclaim.
As well as words, maps, photographs and projections, there will be some interesting family heirlooms on display. There’ll be a cafe and a merchandise stall, and lots of interesting things to do as well as things to look at. We’ll be putting on a variety of special events, including a talk on Wednesday October 18 by Dr Peter Shambrook, Historical Consultant to The Balfour Project. On Saturday October 21 we’ll be having a Palestinian feast, preceded by some unusual entertainment; and on Saturday and Sunday October 28th/29th we’ll be screening Peter Kosminsky’s award-winning docu-drama The Promise (more details on these events nearer the time).