The Old House

Talbot House was built by the wealthy hoptraders of the Lebbe family in the 18th Century. Maurice Coevoet, a local brewer, bought the house in 1911. In 1915, after the house was struck by a German shell, he decided to leave for a safer place with his family. Soon thereafter, the house was rented to the 6th division of the British army. It was here that Chaplain Philip "Tubby" Clayton opened a soldier’s club as an alternative for the often controversial nightlife in the rest of the city.

At first the club was called “Church House”, but Colonel Reginald May proposed - despite of Head Army Chaplain Neville Talbot's protest - to call it “Talbot House” after Gilbert Talbot, Neville’s brother who died on 30th July 1915. Gilbert Talbot became the symbol of a “Golden Generation” of young men who sacrificed their lives in the war.

Tubby was in charge of the clubhouse and wanted to make sure that there was a cosy and homely atmosphere for all, regardless of rank and status. The sign on the door of Tubby's office, the chaplains room, still reads:

"All rank abandon ye who enter here."

This sentence became one of the pillars of the house. Everyone who entered did so as a member of the human race and not as a soldier or officer. Orders were also prohibited in the house. Tubby insisted that Talbot House had to be a place where people could forget about the war for just a moment. The sign next to the front door saying: "To pessimists, way out!" speaks volumes in this respect. The house is full of similar signs that, by making something clear in a humorous way, subtly takes away the need for orders. Keeping a soldiers club without order and discipline might seem impossible, but by doing this Tubby succeeded none the less.

Feel free to have a look around on our virtual 360° tour.

Did you know...

...the building dates back to the early 18th century. The top floor, attic, back porch and current facade were built on later.