Late 1918, when the role of Talbot House had come to an end, Chaplain Tubby Clayton saw himself faced with the unenviable task of clearing out the House.
After three busy years, a wide range of bits and pieces had been accumulated for the daily running of the House: furniture, pianos, household goods, chessboards….
The padre’s concern was a familiar one: what to chuck out and what to take back to Blighty? So, most of the stuff was disposed of, there and then.
Even the billiards table - however significant this piece would have been today - simply had to go. Anything that was too big or too heavy was abandoned.
However, one collection would escape the clear-out:
the interior of the Chapel was sent to London, and temporarily displayed in the crypt of All Hallows-by-the-Tower.
From the concise guidebook Clayton compiled for its visitors, we learn why precisely these objects had to be taken home,
and why they would return to Poperinge in 1929.
"This inventory of Chapel ornaments is, perhaps, a tale of little worth in the judgement of one who is accustomed to the lavish elegancies of a home parish.
Yet, when you remember how far a little beauty went amid such surroundings as ours, you will bear with me."
The objects collected for the Upper Room in Talbot House testify of a yearning for beauty.
But there’s more. "Around our altar gradually were gathered many memorial gifts, and many still more sacred associations," Clayton continues.
Tens of objects indeed carry the names - often quite literally - of men who visited the House as friends, but who eventually perished.
How ever could anyone throw away such mementoes?
This exhibition - "the Names of Things" - provides a new inventory of the Upper Room, though this time with a deeper meaning.
The result comes in the shape of a "Memorial Book" in which objects, names and places are valued for their association.
“And then,” the padre concludes, “the atmosphere and the sense of brotherhood in this Upper Room will be as real to-day as ever."