Toc H, Records of

Scope and Content

Records of Toc H include minutes of Central Council, dating from 1923, together with minutes of many of its committees. These committees include the Elections Committee, Central Executive Committee, Finance and Property Committee (formerly separate committees), Revenue Committee, Womens Association Joint Appeals Committee, Youth Service Committee, Schools Committee, Central House Committee, General Purposes Committee, Personnel Committee and National Projects Committee. In addition, there are minutes and log books of numerous Toc H branches.

There is substantial material relating to Toc H membership and information about individual Marks and centres. There are papers relating to the Womens Association of Toc H as well as papers relating to work with the services. The collection comprises large quantities of photographs of individuals associated with Toc H and activities undertaken; a significant amount of Toc H publications and promotional literature including handbooks, magazines and journal issues; and documents relating to Toc H national strategy and policy. The collection also includes presscuttings, artefacts, sound and audio visual materials.

Administrative / Biographical History

Toc H is an international Christian movement which developed from a soldiers' rest and recreation centre named Talbot House founded in Poperinge, near Ypres or Ieper, in Belgium during December 1915. Talbot House was named in memory of Gilbert Talbot, son of Edward Talbot (1844-1934), Bishop of Winchester, who had been killed at Hooge in July 1915. It was founded by Gilbert's elder brother, Neville (1879-1943), who was a senior army chaplain, and Reverend Philip Thomas Byard Clayton (1885-1972), known as 'Tubby'. The name 'Toc H' is an abbreviation for Talbot House: 'Toc' signifying the letter 'T' in the signals spelling alphabet used by the British army during the First World War.

Poperinge was a busy transfer station where troops fighting on the battlefields of Flanders were billeted. Talbot House was designed to be an 'Every Man's Club' where all soldiers, regardless of rank, were welcome. The house was open to men and officers alike and included a library, kitchen and garden. A chapel was created in the attic for religious services and devotions. Clayton organised debates and concerts and men could post messages for missing comrades.

In 1920 Clayton established a Christian youth centre in London which was also named Toc H. After a acquiring a property in Queensgate Place, Knightsbridge, Clayton opened the first Toc H hostel designed as a home for men coming to London for work but having nowhere to stay. The property quickly proved too small and they soon moved to a larger house in Queensgate Gardens - this was named, in army fashion, Mark 1. By 1921 there were three Marks in London. The first outside London was established in Cheltenham. Bands of men were initially awarded a Rushlight before being elevated to Branch status and consequently granted one of the famous Lamps, first introduced in 1922. Further branches of Toc H were also established in other countries across the world, including Australian branches in Victoria and Adelaide, established during 1925.

The earliest statement of the aims of Toc H was designed by Clayton, Rev 'Dick' Sheppard and Sir Alexander Patterson early in 1920. It was subsequently revised in 1936 and 1967 and is known as the 'Four Points of the Compass'. The statement can be summarised as: 'to love widely; to build bravely; to think fairly; to witness humbly'.

Toc H attracted the patronage of Alexander Paterson, Henry Willink and G. K. Chesterton. During these early years, the Prince of Wales (the future Edward VIII) was an active supporter and appeared at many annual festivals. The movement was granted a Royal Charter in 1922, the same year Clayton became the vicar of All Hallows-by-the-Tower in London. This led to the church becoming Toc H's Guild church.

Toc H was initially only open to men but under the leadership of Alison MacFie, the League of Women Helpers was established to support Toc H work. The League developed an active role in Toc H, especially during the Second World War when many men were away fighting. The League later became known as the Women's Section and merged fully with the men's movement in 1971.

By the 1940s and 1950s the movement was large and powerful although contained few young members. In the late 1950s a Project scheme was established where young people could volunteer with environmental work, manual projects, play schemes and work with the elderly, disabled or disadvantaged.

Although membership has declined during recent decades, Toc H trustees and members accept that a radical rationalisation is required. The movement aims to emerge as a stronger, voluntary movement still guided to the original ethos: attempting to ease the burdens of others through acts of service and promote reconciliation in order to bring disparate sections of society together.

Sources: papers of Toc H; the Toc H website available at viewed 30 March 2012; The Story of Talbot House available at viewed 30 March 2012


At the point of deposit the collection had been sorted and provisionally organised into a number of sections. This arrangement, and the numbers assigned to the materials together with the accompanying descriptions, should be regarded as a temporary measure.

The collection has been arranged by members of Toc H into the following temporary sections:

  • Section 1 (A): Indexes and notes;
  • Section 2 (SP): National strategy and policy;
  • Section 3 (M): Membership and branches;
  • Section 4 (WA): Women's Association and League of Women Helpers;
  • Section 5 (PC): Press cuttings;
  • Section 6 (G): General;
  • Section 7 (C): Committees and related papers;
  • Section 8 (MC): Marks and centres;
  • Section 9 (P): Projects and work with young people, schools, youth organisations and volunteers;
  • Section 10 (B): Books and booklets;
  • Section 11 (TC): Tubby Clayton;
  • Section 12 (O): Overseas;
  • Section 13 (SW): Services work;
  • Section 14 (FEP): Fundraising, events and publicity;
  • Section 15 (AH): All Hallows Church, London;
  • Section 16 (TH): Toc H in Belgium;
  • Section 17 (SB): Southampton Boys Club;
  • Section 18 (PT): Pictures;
  • Section 19 (AF): Artefacts;
  • Section 20 (MSC): Miscellaneous;
  • Section 21 (SL): Slides;
  • Section 22 (F): Films;
  • Section 23 (V): Videos and films;
  • Section 24 (AV): Audio visuals

In addition, an extra section has been added by staff at the Cadbury Research Library:

  • Section 25 (UN): Unprocessed material

Access Information

The vast majority of this collection is open to all registered researchers. Some files contain information relating to living individuals. Access and use of this information is covered by our 'Access to Archives and Manuscripts' declaration in order to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998. Where records relating to living individuals are of a sensitive nature, further access restrictions have been applied to the records, in the form of a closure period. Where a closure period has been applied, small sections of the collection will not be generally available to researchers

Acquisition Information

Material deposited July 2011

Other Finding Aids

See full catalogue for more information.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in advance in writing from the Director of Special Collections (email: ). Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult. Cadbury Research Library: Special Collections will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Related Material

Toc H retains custody of recent material including items relating to national strategy and policy, videos, films and audio visuals

Corporate Names