Talbot House, Poperinge
TOC-H (TH) is an international Christian movement. The name is an abbreviation for Talbot House, ‘Toc’ signifying the letter T in the Signals spelling alphabet used by the British Army in World War I.
Front door of Talbot House, Poperinge
A soldiers’ rest and recreation centre named Talbot House was founded in December 1915 at Poperinge in Belgium. It aimed to promote Christianity and was named in memory of Gilbert Talbot, son of Edward Talbot, then Bishop of Winchester, who had been killed at Hooge in July 1915.
Room in Talbot House
The founders were Gilbert’s elder brother, Neville Talbot, then a senior army chaplain, and the Reverend Philip Thomas Byard (Tubby) Clayton.
Talbot House was styled as an “Every Man’s Club”, where all soldiers were welcome, regardless of rank. It was “an alternative for the ‘debauched’ recreational life of the town”.
Entrance to Chaplain’s Room
In 1920, Clayton founded a Christian youth centre in London, also called Toc H, which developed into an interdenominational association for Christian social service.
The original building at Poperinghe has been maintained and redeveloped as a museum and tourist venue.
Map of WWI Battlefield around Ypres in Flanders
Branches of Toc H were established in many countries around the world. An Australian branch was formed in Victoria in 1925 by the heretical Reverend Herbert Hayes. Another was formed in Adelaide the same year.
Caption for WWI Map
Toc H members seek to ease the burdens of others through acts of service. They also promote reconciliation and work to bring disparate sections of society together. Branches may organise localised activities such as hospital visits, entertainment for the residents of care homes and organising residential holidays for special groups.
Our group arrives at Talbot House, Poperinge