London Remembers Talbot House, 100 years young!

Flanders, WW1 – ‘an oasis of serenity in a world gone mad’

“If you are in the habit of spitting on the carpet at home, please spit here”

Today, the centenary of Talbot House will be marked by an interactive act of remembrance to take place on the streets of Manchester and London and initiated by VISITFLANDERS. Passers-by in London and Manchester will be offered tea in special remembrance cups to remind and enlighten them about the role this special place had during WW1 for British soldiers. Talbot House was opened on December 11th 1915, by army chaplains Neville Talbot and Philip ‘Tubby’ Clayton and played a key role as a place, where soldiers could meet with friends and forget about the war for a short moment. Soldiers would flock to the house, located behind front lines and seek solace and respite by gathering around its famous piano whilst enjoying its English garden, a cup of tea and a piece of cake. This very British ‘home from home’, in the midst of Poperinge, near Ypres, Flanders, was close to one of the busiest battlegrounds on the Western Front during the Great War.

Nowadays, Talbot House is a living museum, where visitors can enjoy a ‘historical overnight stay’ and relive the past or enjoy the simple pleasures of a cup of tea, a piece of cake and play the original piano, as the soldiers did in 1915. This very special home was famous for its frank and practical house rules, often depicted in Clayton’s amusing quotes such as “If you are in the habit of spitting on the carpet at home, please spit here” or “Please write your name and address in the Visitors’ Book, otherwise how can we forward your umbrella or trace our teaspoons?”

Tubby Clayton went on to set up Toc H Association and became the vicar of All Hallows by the Tower, London for 40 years. He is buried in All Hallows and his effigy is one of the last works by Cecil Thomas, the ‘soldier sculptor’. A new documentary about Philip ‘Tubby’ Clayton, was premiered on December 12. In the film, footage from the last surviving friends and family who knew Clayton, recount their stories of him and of Talbot House. The film will become a permanent feature of the Talbot House exhibition. Tubby described himself as “a comic kind of creature in an officer’s kit”. He was ahead of his times and the House was open to all service positions, as the sign above his office stated “Abandon rank, all ye who enter here”.

Talbot House provided “an oasis of serenity in a world gone crazy” for the soldiers who were fighting in some of the war’s fiercest battles along the Western Front. Today there are many memorials and cemeteries scattered across the landscape, reminders of how many lost their lives in Flanders Fields. A visit to Talbot House should be combined with Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery just outside Poperinge. It is located on the site of what used to be the largest evacuation hospital in the Salient. It is this that sets the cemetery apart from others, as most graves are identified, the soldiers having died at the hospital.

The Talbot House complimentary tea will be served in London at Basingshall Street and Moorsfield Street (Moorgate). In Manchester you can find us at Spinningsfield Square and Hardman Street (near Piccadilly Station).

Tea will be served in remembrance cups and recipients will be invited to post a picture of their cup, attach the hashtag #TalbotHouse to win a short break to Flanders for a two night break at Talbot House’s unique guesthouse. They’ll also be prompted to answer a specific question about how they remember the fallen of the Great War.

Help us to find photos of Talbot House during WW1. Due to wartime restrictions on taking photographs there are currently very few images available, but we are sure that there may well be more contained within old photograph collections.

Poperinge is situated near Ypres, Flanders and was located behind the front line during WWI.

For more information about events for the centenary of Talbot house see www.talbothouse.be/en/museum/practical/events/bday

The exhibition , “Talbot House, an Oasis in a world gone Crazy” is currently open until 8 Jan at the Guildhall Library, London

VISITFLANDERS

Situated in the Flemish speaking North of Belgium, Flanders charms with cities filled with historic attractions and architecture as well as world-renowned cuisine, chocolate and quality beer. Historically, the region of Flanders Fields paid an important role in the Great War. There are many intriguing and thought provoking sites in the areas around Ypres and West Flanders to visit. As well as refurbishments to museums, improvements and new visitor centres, the area of Flanders Fields will be in the spotlight with a number of newly created events and exhibitions taking place until 2018.

For more information see www.flandersfields1418.com

For Talbot House visit www.talbothouse.be

‘Facebook: www.facebook.com/FlandersFields1418

‘Follow’ on Twitter: @flandersww1, Hashtag #FF1418

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