Thursday 16 March 2020
In December 1915, this historic First World War Soldiers Club was started by Reverend Philip 'Tubby' Clayton with the goal to create a home from home for over half a million weary and homesick troops that were in the area.
Here, they could meet up with friends regardless of rank, have a cup of tea, write a letter home, enjoy a well-kept garden or play the piano. In the attic, a chapel offered some comfort and provided hope for the men who had to return to the trenches.
The club was so successful that soon after the war, some 500 Toc H clubs sprang up throughout the Commonwealth. Since being founded, Talbot House's existence has been made possible, as a charitable enterprise, via a combination of subsidies from willing supporters; the first being the British Army, followed by Pilgrims, the Toc H organisation and, more lately, regional and local government subsidies and you.
Today, grants and the free services of its Wardens cover almost half of the House’s annual running costs. The rest of the costs are met by people coming through the doors of Talbot House; doors that have now been closed. As a result, most, if not all, of the annual income generated from visitors between March and November of this year will most probably be depleted. In an effort to cost save, it has cut expenditure as far as possible, including furloughing staff contracts, and applying for a bank loan to help them, through this difficult period.
Of course, these are temporary measures that, alone, will not save Talbot House. Projected losses are estimated to be approximately €100,000 and to help the museum through this time, they have launched a Crowd-Funded appeal. It is hoped that generous donors to the crowd fund will benefit from a range of rewards ranging from free overnights stays and story tours to free breakfasts and membership of its organisation – https://www.facebook.com/talbothouse.be/
The plight of institutions like Talbot House and many others will no doubt be a talking point for in the near future, if we are to be able to save similar precious pieces heritage, for future generations.