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Frome in Palestine 1917-1948

An exhibition, with extras

7:30 Official opening by the Earl of Oxford from Mells, whose father served in Palestine between 1942 and 1948
followed by a talk by Dr Peter Shambrook, Historical Consultant to The Balfour Project:

A fateful enterprise: the “Balfour” letter and its consequences

The 1917 Balfour Declaration is widely regarded as one of the most formative and far-reaching documents in the modern history of the Middle East. For Israelis, the Declaration was the foundation stone upon which the Jewish State was established in 1948, following the Holocaust. On the other hand, for Palestinians the Declaration was an immoral, colonial document which led directly to the destruction of Palestinian society and their dispossession in 1948. Dr Shambrook’s talk will cover the war-time context that led to the Declaration, the key players involved, the importance of the Declaration in British mandatory policy between 1923-1948, and the connection between the Declaration and Britain’s contemporary role in the ongoing crisis in Israel/Palestine.

Admission by donation. There will be refreshments.


Peter Shambrook

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 on Saturday October 21 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.

Frome in Palestine 1917-1948 will be held at the Silk Mill Gallery in Merchants Barton, Saxonvale, Frome BA11 1PT. The exhibition runs from Wednesday October 18 until Tuesday October 31. Hours 11am – 7pm. Admission is free and there’s a car park twenty yards away.