A Register of Polonica of the physical manifestations of the Polish presence in Scotland











For centuries, Black Barony in Peebles-shire was the home of the Murrays of Elibank.  Sold in 1930 this picturesque building set in then 80 acres of beautiful grounds opened as a hotel in 1930.


In 1940 this tranquil retreat was advertising its services with the wartime equivalent of ‘get away from it all ‘ –”War Nerves Unknown at Hotel Black Barony”.


Up until the early Summer of 1942 it continued to trade as a hotel.

Around this time, in common with many other buildings and land in Scotland during the war, it was requisitioned.  It was now to house a Polish institution –the Polish Higher Military School.


It was not until 1 August 1946 that the Hotel was re-opened to the public.

Black Barony Hotel had a Polish military connection in the Second World War through the Polish equivalent of the British Staff College being based at the hotel between 1942 and 1945.


The outbreak of WWII in September 1939 interrupted activities of the School in Poland and it was not until Polish Independence Day in November 1940 that the order was given to resume activities, initially in London and later in Scotland.


The purpose of the School  was to prepare personnel to serve in brigade and divisional staffs of the Polish Armed Forces.  The School's staff were officers of the General Staff.

Programme and training methods were similar to those from the period of the W.S.Woj. in Warsaw.


Around September 42, the hotel was taken over by the Polish Armed Forces to house the Higher Military School for Polish (and Czech) officers with accommodation for 50 students.  It had previously been located in London.

A number of senior British and Polish officers visited the Staff College during its existence.  At the end of March/beginning of April 1943, Major General Maczek,  then acting as I Polish Corps Commander, was present at the closing ceremony of one of the Staff Courses at Eddleston.  General Sosnkowski,  GOC-in-C was there for the opening ceremony of a new Course in the Spring of 1944.

Officers successfully completing would be entitled to have 'dyplomowany' after their rank, e.g. 'kapitan dypl.  Kowalski'.  They also wore a different Polish Eagle as a badge.

The College, one of a number of Polish central military institutions located in Scotland, and under the Polish Commander-in-Chief, was subordinated to the then, so called, "HQ Static Units", but only for administrative and garrison purposes.


Sometime before the end of March 1943, a Polish Air Force Staff College was established within the Polish Army Staff College at Black Barony with courses for 20 pupils.


The first Commandant of the School in Scotland was Colonel Józef Smoleński between September 1942 and March 1943.

Between March 1943 and  September 1944 Colonel Marian Korewo was Commandant of the Course and later Commandant of the Staff College.  He was posted in September 1944 to Italy to General Anders II Polish Corps. Colonel Korewo had earlier commanded a Polish medium artillery regiment based in Scotland.


After Colonel Korewo, Colonel Roman Szymański was appointed Commandant of the School from August 1944 to its dissolution in 1946 in Fife.

At the end of December 1945 the Polish Staff College moved from Eddleston to Fife.

By the beginning of August 1946 the Hotel had reverted back to its former status as a hotel under the same control of the Murrayfield Hotel in Edinburgh.





II Course (Hotel Black Barony)

The second course was preceded by a preparatory course, based on a battalion commanders course in Freuchie in Fife.

The course lasted three months (June to August).  Results of the preparatory course determined in great measure the appointment of candidates to the Staff College.

Accepted on to the second course were 44 Polish officers.

A total of 16 lecturers were appointed with the appropriate knowledge and experience.  Among the lecture team were two officers from of the Staff College in Warsaw,  Lieutenant Colonel K. Kus and Lieutenant Colonel W. Barlog.


The course started in September 1942 and lasted until March 1943.

The peace and quiet of Black Barony was in complete contrast to the 1st Course which ran in war torn London in 1941.

The main building surrounded by a beautiful park created good conditions for study.

Housed in the  building were lecture rooms, headquarters  and administrative offices, dining rooms and a large kitchen. The buildings adjacent to the hotel and the main building housed the director of studies, several lecturers  and administrative staff of the College.

The rest of the College staff and students were placed in private accommodation in Peebles. A College truck took them to lectures and exercises at Black Barony. There they ate lunch, dinner and came back after class to Peebles.

Military studies were intensive, leaving little time to socialise.

III Course (Hotel Black Barony)

The third course began in mid-May 1943 and lasted until mid-November of that year.  At the beginning of April 1943, there was a change of the Commandant of the College.  On April 7th, Colonel of the Artillery Marian Korewo, a long-time lecturer in the subject of  artillery at the Staff College in Warsaw, took over as Commandant.  Up until then he had commanded the 1st Medium Artillery Regiment, based in Scotland.


43 officers - lieutenants and captains joined the course, including 20 officers from units in the Middle East, who journeyed  for 3 months to reach Britain.


In order to improve learning, each course was divided into two groups.  One group was led by Lieutenant Colonel G. Łowczowski (ext Polish link) and the other by Lieutenant Colonel J. Monwid-Olechnowicz. The colonel had previously commanded the 10th Mounted Rifles Regiment (part of General Maczek’s 10th Armoured Cavalry Brigade) in Scotland from 1940-1942.


The study system was based on practical exercises, as well as on maps, including table relief maps and on the ground, with a minimal number of lectures.  There was a great deal of discussion about general tactics and tactics specific to particular arms as well as about supply services.


In the second half of the course there were two-sided skeleton exercises held indoors by telephone and radio. Students served as senior staff officers, and commanders of artillery units except Chiefs of Staff . Each exercise lasted about one and half days.


In parallel to the third course a special course for Polish Air Force officers designed to prepare officers for work on air staffs was run. The course was led by Colonel (equiv. to RAF Group Commander) of the Air Force Bokalski.

IV Course (Hotel Black Barony)

The course began on April 24, 1944, and lasted until September of that year. The opening of the course took place in the presence of the Commander in Chief Lt. Gen. K. Sosnkowski.

Of the 69 candidates in the fourth course drawn from units of I Corps in Scotland and from II Corps in Italy, 60 officers completed their studies.














V Course (Hotel Black Barony)

The course began in November 1944 and lasted until mid-April 1945.   The course was set up 66 students, of whom 64 completed.

In the week up to 29th December 1945, the Staff College moved from Eddleston to Cupar, Fife and Polish wartime links with the hotel were severed.  Twenty-three years later, the hotel came into Polish hands.

VI Course (Fife)

The course started up on 21st January 1946 and ended on 6th July 1946 with the closure of the W.S.W.


1. The Glasgow Herald, 30 Jan 1988; 15 May 1990.

2. The Scotsman, (various dates between 1930 and 1946).

3. War Office files held at The National Archives, Kew.

4. “Generałowie Polski Niedpodległej”,  Tadeusz Kryska-Karski, Stanislaw Żurakowski, Editions Spotkania, Warszawa, 1991.

5. W 50-lecie powstanie Wyższej Szkoły Wojennej w Warszawie,

Wacław Chocianowicz, Londyn, 1969.

6. The Akademia Obrony Narodowej in Warsaw.

7. Biuletyn Stowarzyszenia Kartografów Polskich Nr 11-12 Maj 2004 – Kwiecień 2005, Wrocław.



1. A brief history of the Higher Military College may be found on the web at the AON website.




The group restoring the Great Polish Map of Scotland have their own website,

Mapa Scotland – The Great Polish Map of Scotland.

Click on the above link to visit their site.

In 1968, Jan S. Tomasik bought the attractive estate.  The family ran the hotel up to 1980 when it shut.  Between 1974 and 1979 a remarkable outdoor relief map of Scotland, including running rivers was completed by Jan Tomasik.


The creator of this piece of impressive and skilful work was Kazimierz Trafas (1939-2004), a cartographer and geographer.  He later, as Prof. dr. hab. Kazimierz Trafas, became Head of Department of Cartography and Remote Sensing at the Institute of Geography and Spatial Management at the Jagellionian University, Kraków.


In the 80s, Tomasik’s son also named Jan Tomasik, created a new modern hotel and planned to restore the map as a feature of the estate.  The venture, despite all his efforts did not succeed.

Tom Shields in his Diary in the Glasgow Herald in May 1990 reported on efforts made to retain the hotel under the banner “Winners and losers in the Black Barony affair”.

Shields reported that Jan Tomasik’s dreams were shattered when the administrators sold the hotel as a going concern in June 1989.


Over the years, this long forgotten relief map of Scotland slowly deteriorated, but plans are now well advanced to restore the map to its former glory.

“Somewhere in Scotland” in May 1999

© R Ostrycharz 2013

The three-dimensional map of Scotland with Black Barony

in the background in May 1999

© R Ostrycharz 2013

Copyright © R Ostrycharz 2010


Modified 7 March 2014