Millions of Syrians have been displaced by war and terror in their home country. Hundreds of thousands have fled to the supposedly safe haven of Europe in search of shelter, leading to the biggest refugee crisis in a generation.

While some sections of the media have been doing their best to whip up outrage over new migration figures and the ongoing situation in Calais, it is perhaps worth reflecting that Britain hasn't always been so hostile.

A letter to the editor of the Telegraph, which was itself criticised this week for the use of alarmist migration rhetoric on its front page, serves to remind our politicians and media how Britain has treated refugees in the past.

John Kennett, a Telegraph reader from Hadlow in Kent, references a notice outside the Huguenot Chapel at Canterbury Cathedral.

The notice uses a quote from 19th century author Samuel Smiles, who paid tribute to "the large and liberal spirit of the English church, and the glorious asylum which England has in all times given to foreigners flying for refuge against oppression and tyranny".

Thousands of French protestants, fleeing persecution in their homeland in the 17th and 18th centuries made new lives for themselves in the British Isles where they were granted asylum.

The letter goes on to say:

Our politicians should reflect on the generosity of spirit for which the English were once renowned.

Well said, Mr Kennett, well said.

Syrian children pose for a photo at the Za'atari refugee camp in Jordan (Picture: Getty)
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