During the Great War, Poperinge was part of unoccupied Belgium. Away from the turmoil of battle in the Ypres Salient, the town became the nerve centre of the British sector. In the heart of this bustling town, the Army chaplains Neville Talbot and Philip "Tubby" Clayton opened a club. From December 1915 onwards, and for more than three years, the House provided rest and recreation to all soldiers coming in, regardless of their rank. Today, as real as then, the place offers a welcoming and friendly stop in Flanders fields.
A vibrant museum
A visit to Talbot House usually starts at the old hop barn of the house, which was converted into a concert hall during the War. On the first floor a British soldier and a Belgian girl from the Great War will take you back in time to Talbot House as they used to know it and show you what a World War I concert party looked like. Now playing: the "Happy Hoppers". The permanent exhibition on life behind the lines should fulfil your expectations of a routine museum visit. This collage of the experiences of characters that lived near or in Poperinge during the War will teach you why this city was called "Little Paris" by many soldiers, give you an account of life in the military camps and show you how the men kept their morale high. Exiting the concert hall leads you right into the neatly maintained garden of Talbot House, through which you can access the Old House itself. Here, you can learn something about the military past of the house or simply have a chat with one of the British wardens.
The house is still used on a daily basis. You can play the piano in the old canteen, relax with a cup of tea or even spend the night in one of the guest rooms. This is what Talbot House is famous for: It’s not a regular museum, it’s still the same "Every Man’s Club" it was a century ago.