The History of TocH:
In 1915 army chaplain the Reverend Phillip Byard (Tubby) Clayton was sent to France and then on to the town of Poperinge in Belgium. Sitting a few miles back from the trenches around Ypres (nowadays known by its Flemish name Ieper), Pops, as the soldiers called it, was a busy transfer station where troops on their way to and from the battlefields of Flanders were billeted. Clayton, universally known as Tubby, was instructed by his senior chaplain, Neville Talbot, to set up some sort of rest house for the troops.
Tubby Clayton rented a house to use as his base. It was named Talbot House in honour of Gilbert Talbot (Neville’s brother) who had been killed earlier in the year. Soldiers being soldiers, Talbot House soon became known by its initials TH, and then, in the radio signallers’ parlance of the day as Toc H. It opened on 11 Dec 1915.
Tubby ensured the house was open to men and officers alike. He created a library and there was a large kitchen and a beautiful walled garden. Eventually he was able to create a chapel in the attic. Talbot House promoted a special feeling of fellowship with those who rested there awhile.
When peace came, Tubby was keen that the TocH scheme continued. He eventually opened a series of hostels and places where soldiers could enjoy support and fellowship. The groups were expected to follow the Four Points of the Compass:
1. FRIENDSHIP: To love widely.
To provide members with opportunities to develop a spirit of understanding and reconciliation.
2. SERVICE: To build bravely.
To enable members, with their varying gifts, to serve their fellows.
3. FAIRMINDEDNESS: To think fairly.
To bring to members the knowledge and experience of others.
4. THE KINGDOM OF GOD : To witness humbly.
To work for a better world through the example of friendship, service and fair-mindedness.
In 1922 Toc H was granted a Royal Charter.
TocH in Hungerford:
Little is yet known about TocH in Hungerford.
It is thought that around 1916-1918 the "TocH building" was Library Cottage, 1 Church Lane (later used as a library and Labour Exchange).
An entry in the Newbury Weekly News on 12 December 1929, recorded "A wireless set provided by TocH at Hungerford Poor Law Institution (the workhouse in Park Street) was formally handed over by Sir Ernest Wills on Tuesday. A greeting was given by the BBC the announcer welcoming the inmates and staff as new listeners."
During the late 1930s the Hon Secretary was the Constable, Mr E. Munford.
- Headed Toc H postcard