TALBOT HOUSE, POPERINGHE
Talbot House, 2006
In 1915 two army chaplains – Rev. P.S.B. 'Tubby' Clayton and Rev. Neville Talbot - acquired an old Belgian town house in Poperinghe, and converted it for their own use as a veritable ‘oasis’ out of the line for troops going to and from the trenches. They named it ‘Talbot House’ after Neville’s brother and Clayton’s friend, Lieutenant Gilbert Talbot of the Rifle Brigade who was killed at Hooge in July 1915. Inside the house they had a library, a cinema in the cellar, a concert hall, a tea room and in the Hop Loft a large chapel where religious services were held on a regular basis. By the main entrance Rev. Clayton, who stayed at the house for the whole war, placed a sign:
"All rank abandon ye who enter here"
During the war thousands of British troops knew Talbot House, but in 1919 its former owner claimed it back until the house was bought for the Toc H organisation, started here by ‘Tubby’ Clayton in 1915. Toc H is army signalling phonetic for the initials T.H. = Talbot House.
Today it offers accommodation to the battlefield visitor and since 2004 has an excellent museum of the house and life behind the lines at Poperinghe. You enter the museum, located in the old Concert Hall, and follow the story of the opening of the house, life in Poperinghe and listen to the memories of one of the locals who knew the house in WW1. You then go out into the garden, a haven for the troops, and visit the Slessorium (the old Bath House) where a film takes you on a journey through the house. You then go upstairs into the loft of the Concert Hall and see a film about WW1 concert parties. You exit via the shop, which is well stocked with books and postcards. You can also opt for a visit to the House itself, which remains virtually untouched; ascending to the chapel loft there is a truly magical experience.
The opening hours for the Museum are: 09.30 - 17.30 every day except Monday. Last entrance is 16.30. The site is closed between 24th December and 2nd January. Groups must make a reservation in advance. Entrance fee is 5,50 Euros per person, 2,5 Euros for children and 3,50 Euros for groups. There is an extra amount if you wish to visit Talbot House.
For more details contact:
Tel: 0032 57 333 228
Fax: 0032 57 332 182
©Paul Reed 2005-2006