Talbot House

On 11 December 1915, an ‘Everyman’s Club’ opened in Poperinge, Belgium. Named Talbot House, and soon after shortened to ‘Toc H’ (army jargon for ‘TH’), this was a place of rest for men from the trenches.

The club was founded by Philip Bryard ‘Tubby’ Clayton, an army chaplain, by his superior, Rev Neville Talbot. Whilst there were other rest houses for soldiers, Tubby wanted to create a ‘home from home’ and a place where the men could forget the war they were fighting just five miles away.

Tubby hired an empty house from a merchant in Poperinge. He named the house after Gilbert Talbot, the brother of Neville, who had died in the trenches July that year. Tubby was keen to promote Christianity in the club, which led to him creating a chapel in the attic room of the house.

The attic chapel of Talbot House [MS 1859]
Improvising an altar out of a carpenter’s table found in the shed and other found and donated furniture, Tubby created a space for the soldiers to take communion or pray by themselves. Many soldiers chose to take first communion there. For many heading back to the front, it might also be their last communion.

At Lambeth Palace Library a register is held of communicants and candidates for confirmation at Toc H between 1915 and 1917 (MS 3211). It gives us information about their names, rank, and sometimes regiment and civilian address.

[MS 3211]
Tubby wrote extensively about his experiences in Belgium. During the war he had a continual correspondence with his mother, to whom he describes the exploits of the House (these letters were rediscovered by Tubby after her death, and published in 1932). Not long after the war he began to write memoirs of his time at the House (Clayton, Tales of Talbot House, 1947).

Archbishop Davidson’s passport [Davidson 799]
In May 1916, Archbishop Randall Davidson travelled to Belgium to see the front and meet the soldiers. He made a visit to Talbot House to carry out a confirmation service. In his journal, Archbishop Davidson describes: ‘Guns firing outside… and the men presenting themselves for confirmation with obvious and unabashed earnestness, corresponding with the courage they show in thus coming forward among their fellows’ (Davidson 583 f.16). In turn, Tubby states in a letter to his mother: ‘Cantuar was perfectly delightful, and as simple as a Mission preacher with them’ (Clayton, Letters From Flanders Fields, 1932, p.59).

Communicants in MS 3211

Although thirty-seven men were confirmed that day, Tubby mentions four in particular, although not by name, who were commanded by the recently killed Major Philbey. These four men, we can see from MS 3211, were Sergeant Hazelhurst, Corporal Hollies, Private Wyard and Lance Corporal Field. Within weeks of the confirmation, both Hazelhurst and Wyard had been killed in action (Clayton, 1932, pp.58-59).

The club caused such an impact on men such as these that after the house was closed in 1918 (when German troops were advancing on the area), those who had experienced it wished to maintain the spirit and fellowship of Talbot House, and so the charity Toc H was born. A new Talbot House was opened in London, and hostels were opened for people coming to London for work. Toc H has now developed into an international charity, focused on community work.

Further Reading

Clayton, P.B., Plain Tales From Flanders (Longmans, Green & Co., 1929)

Clayton, P.B., Letters From Flanders (Butler & Tanner Ltd: London, 1932)

Clayton, P.B., Tales of Talbot House (Toc H: London, 1947)


Library Records Project 3

Dr Richard Palmer reports further progress on the project to produce new online descriptions of the early catalogues of Lambeth Palace Library 1610-1785, together with a guide to the catalogues, shelf marks and other physical evidence of the collection.

Thomas Tenison, Archbishop 1694-1715, was a notable benefactor of libraries. He was the founder of Archbishop Tenison’s Library at St. Martin-in-the-Fields (stocked with books from his own collection), placed books and manuscripts in Lambeth Palace Library in his lifetime, bequeathed further books and manuscripts to Lambeth, placed his archiepiscopal papers in the Library, and passed other correspondence to Bishop Gibson (which later returned to Lambeth as the Gibson papers). His personal collection, partly housed in a study at St. Martin’s, partly at Lambeth in some 27 different locations, is difficult to encapsulate. The project has described seven catalogues produced during Tenison’s era, especially the important catalogues of printed books and manuscripts produced by Edmund Gibson and a shelf list of the Tenison books produced later by David Wilkins. It has also identified the earliest catalogue of the Library at St. Martin-in-the-Fields and of the Archbishop’s personal collection housed there (LR/F/11). This was begun c.1684 at the foundation of the Library and was replaced c.1698 by a new version which has been studied by Peter Hoare. Another catalogue was identified as being in the hand of Gibson’s successor as Librarian, Benjamin Ibbot.

Plan of the public library erected by Tenison in Castle Street, Westminster, in 1685 (MS 4444/1)
Plan of the public library erected by Tenison in Castle Street, Westminster, in 1685 (MS 4444/1)

A full account of the custodial history of the Henry Wharton manuscripts (which Tenison purchased after Wharton’s death in 1685 and placed in the Library in 1686) has been added to the description of MS 580, the catalogue of the Lambeth manuscripts which Wharton compiled in 1688. Wharton’s catalogue  influenced the subsequent catalogues by Gibson and Wilkins and ultimately the catalogue by HJ Todd printed in 1812.

William Wake, Archbishop 1716-37, left his books and papers to Christ Church Oxford. Nevertheless he made a considerable impact on the Lambeth library through the work of his Librarian David Wilkins. According to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Wilkins was employed for three years only, from 1715. However this cannot be correct. Wake was only confirmed as Archbishop in January 1716 and Wilkins was still Librarian in 1720. Wilkins’ numerous letters to Wake show that he was away from London, engaged in academic work, throughout 1716 and most of 1717. However on 20 June 1717 Wilkins wrote from Oxford to Wake: ‘A catalogue of books or whatever your Grace will judge necessary for Lambeth Library shall be made, as well as I can, as soon as your Grace orders me to repair to your Palace, for I shall never grudge any labours to discharge my trust faithfully…’. Wilkins’ new catalogue of the printed books, dated 1718, remained in use until around the 1870s; his catalogue of manuscripts, dated 1720, was not replaced until 1812.

Work was begun on the work of Andrew Coltee Ducarel, whose productive Librarianship spanned the years 1757-85.

Samuel Crowther, the first Black Anglican Bishop, at the Wilberforce Oak

Samuel Crowther, James Johnson, Henry Johnson and friends at the Wilberforce Oak in 1873

This image ( Tait 219 f. 119) shows a summer picnic which, as the reverse of the photograph records, took place on 21 June 1873. The photograph includes Samuel Crowther (c.1807-1891), the first black Anglican bishop, consecrated bishop of Western Africa in 1864. Also included are James Johnson (c.1836-1917), later assistant bishop of Western Equatorial Africa, and Henry Johnson, subsequently archdeacon of the Upper Niger.

The resonance of the picture lies in its location. Those picnicking were photographed at the ‘Wilberforce oak’, at Keston in Kent (now part of Bromley borough). William Wilberforce (1759-1833), the politician and philanthropist, often visited the prime minister, William Pitt the younger (1759-1806), who owned the Holwood estate at Keston. Wilberforce’s resolution, ‘after a conversation in the open air at the root of an old tree at Holwood just above the steep descent into the vale of Keston’, to give notice in the House of Commons of his intention to bring forward the abolition of the slave trade, is quoted in the Life published by his son, Samuel Wilberforce (1805-1873), bishop of Oxford and Winchester. The occasion was recorded in an inscription on a memorial seat beneath the oak tree itself. The slave trade in the British empire was eventually abolished in 1807. The bill for the abolition of slavery itself was passed shortly before William Wilberforce’s death in 1833.

The correspondence accompanying this photograph in the Library’s collection records a proposal to build a memorial church to Wilberforce at Keston in recognition of his contribution to the campaign against the slave trade, replacing the small church there which was considered inadequate. This proposal, however, was never implemented.

James Boswell’s copy of “De imitatione Christi” by Thomas à Kempis

Title page to De imitatione Christi (“The imitation of Christ”) is possibly the most widely read Christian devotional work after the Bible. Composed by Thomas à Kempis in the first quarter of the 15th century, the book was immediately popular and was printed in some 745 separate editions before 1650. The Sion College Library collection, now held here at Lambeth, includes a copy of the 1640 edition previously owned by James Boswell (1740-1795), biographer of the essayist and man of letters, Dr Samuel Johnson. The ownership inscription on the book’s flyleaf reads, “James Boswell. Edinburgh 1781”.

James Boswell’s autograph on the flyleaf of his copy of
James Boswell’s autograph on the flyleaf of his copy of “De imitatione Christi” [Sion A68.2/K32 (1640)]
De imitatione Christi was a favourite of Boswell’s and he refers to it in his Life of Johnson; several of those passages have been written in manuscript at the beginning of the Sion copy: “Thomas à Kempis must be a good book [says Boswell], as the world has opened its arms to receive it. It is said to have been printed in one language or others, as many times as there have been months since it first came out.”

Dr Samuel Johnson, essayist and lexicographer. Portrait from James Boswell’s “Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D.”, 1791 [Sion B44.4/J63B]
Johnson himself was apparently in the habit of speaking on the subject of the various editions. One Monday in May 1784, he and Boswell were dining together when Boswell raised the question: “When I mentioned that I had seen in the King’s Library sixty-three editions of my favourite Thomas à Kempis, amongst which it was in eight languages, Latin, German, French, Italian, Spanish, English, Arabic, and Armenian, he said he thought it unnecessary to collect many editions, which were all the same, except as to paper and print; he would have the original, and all the editions which had any variation in the text.” If one thing can be said about the Sion College copy, Boswell’s own, it is certainly not the same as all the rest.

Manuscript notes on pastedown of “De imitatione Christi”, 1640

Library Records Project 2

The project to produce new online descriptions of the early catalogues of Lambeth Palace Library 1610-1785, together with a guide to the catalogues, shelf marks and other physical evidence of the collection, funded by the Friends of Lambeth Palace Library, has continued to make good progress.

Attention has been focused on the restoration of the Library by Archbishop Sheldon in 1664 and the catalogues of the Library (7 volumes) which he commissioned. A new description was also made of LR/F/11, which includes a set of book lists now identified as the packing lists of Sheldon’s personal collection when he moved to London in 1660. A further discovery was the presence in many of Sheldon’s books of shelfmarks reflecting their arrangement while he was Bishop of London (1660-3). The project also brought to light a Sheldon book with his crest, surrounded by a wreath, on the binding (the sole example of this stamp which has come to light at Lambeth), and also two Sheldon books with an engraving by Hollar of his arms as Bishop of London, both hand coloured. These are bookplate-size but appear to have been used only rarely, as frontispieces or embellishments.

The project has also covered the reorganisation of the Library by Archishop Sancroft between 1677 and his ejection from Lambeth in 1691. Sancroft rearranged the manuscripts and produced a new catalogue in his own hand. In addition he rearranged the printed books. Amongst the volumes catalogued, a shelf list made by Paul Colomies in 1684 (LR/F/10) has special importance for understanding the collection, especially as it includes an audit of the Library carried out by Sancroft’s chaplains at the time of his ejection in June 1691.

Shelf list by Paul Colomiès, 1684 (LR/F/10 f 26)
Shelf list by Paul Colomiès, 1684 (LR/F/10 f 26)

In all seven catalogues produced during Sancroft’s primacy were described. Three were identified as attempts at an author catalogue of the Library, a project which appears to have remained incomplete. A new description was also made of the catalogue of the Lambeth manuscripts compiled by Henry Wharton in 1688 (MS 580).

Work was also begun on the catalogues produced during the primacy of Archbishop Tenison, 1694-1715, another significant period in the history of the Library.

Community of St Andrew – cataloguing completed

The Community of St. Andrew collection has recently been catalogued and is now available for research. It has taken 4 months to catalogue nearly 50 boxes of archive material and you can search the collection on our online archive catalogue.  The material charts the establishment of the first Deaconess religious community in the Church of England from its beginnings in the 1860s to the present day.

The Community of St. Andrew, or the North London Deaconess Institution as it was called in 1861, moved to Tavistock Crescent in Westbourne Park in the early 1870s where the mother house stayed for the next 130 years.  The community always had a dual purpose of performing prayer and worship for the surrounding community it resided in and performing good works for the community.  The collection contains much material that reflects the dual purpose of the community with many papers documenting the rules that the sisters followed in their daily life and the compassionate work carried out by the sisters.

There is a whole series of papers on ‘The Religious Life’ that contains many papers written by sisters and Mother Superiors in the community which give evidence to the theological motivations for the actions of the community.  Mother Clare who was Mother Superior from 1942-1964 was particularly prolific and the collection contains many addresses that she made to religious conferences during her service as Mother Superior.

There are some records created by the foundress of the community, Elizabeth Ferard, including her Diary that she kept while on Deaconess training at Kaiserswerth in Germany and notes she made during the Deaconess Conference in 1861 where she put forward questions about how she should establish and develop the Deaconess order in England.  An extract of these minutes can be seen below:

Note on deaconess training
Note on deaconess training

The community established many branch houses over its lifetime and there is material that relates to the administration of these houses and the works they undertook.  As the numbers of sisters in the community reduced, these branch houses were closed and sisters who worked there recalled to the Mother House.  The correspondence documenting these closures highlights the effects they had on the sisters involved and how the community as a whole adapted to these changes.

As the numbers of sisters in the community dwindled the need for the larger Mother House at Tavistock Crescent was reduced and the mother house was reduced in size through refurbishment and then finally handed over to the Anglican Communion Office in the early 2000s when the community moved to Verona Court in Chiswick.  They retained an office at Tavistock Road where they still have a presence today.

The collection also has a series of records concerning the Deaconess order in general.  Members of the community were very actively involved in national Deaconess committees and conferences and their activities are documented in correspondence and minutes of meetings.  There is also a sizeable collection of newsletters relating to the Deaconess order.

You can find the collection on the archive catalogue by searching for the order number prefix CSA.  Visit our reading room to see any papers you are interested in.

Pirates and Piracy in Sion College Library

Today, September 19th, is International Talk Like a Pirate Day, but in this post we will not talk like a pirate but about pirates, specifically those to be found within the printed books collection of Sion College Library.

Although Sion College was founded to serve the clergy of London, its library contains much more than ecclesiastical books. Indeed, the subjects covered are wide-ranging, and literature, travel and history are all well-documented. Sion College Library contains several books on the topic of pirates and piracy, many of them wonderfully illustrated.

The history of the bucaniers, 1684 [B85.0/ES6(1)
The history of the bucaniers, 1684, with engraved portraits of famous buccaneers [B85.0/ES6(1)]
The history of the bucaniers is an abridged translation of Americaanse zeerovers, written in Dutch by Alexandre Olivier Exquemelin and published in Amsterdam in 1678.

Title-page and frontispiece of The history of the bucaniers of America [B85.0/ES6(2)]
Title-page and frontispiece of The history of the bucaniers of America [B85.0/ES6(2)]
Sion College Library also owns another copy entitled The history of the bucaniers of America, which is a reissue of the second edition of the complete work published in 1684. The first three parts are by Exquemelin but this edition has also been enlarged with the writings of Basil Ringrose for the fourth part.

Opposite the title-page is an engraved frontispiece portrait of Sir Henry Morgan, better known as the notorious Captain Morgan. Although the book also deals with other buccaneers such as Captain Cook and Captain Sharp, the emphasis is on Morgan and many of the illustrations depict events from his remarkable life.

Sack of Puerto del Principe [B85.0/ES6(2)]
Sack of Puerto del Principe [B85.0/ES6(2)]
Sack of Puerto del Principe
(engraving beginning of part 2, chap 5)
Some account of the Island of Cuba. Captain Morgan attempteth to preserve the Isle of St. Catherine, as a Refuge and Nest unto Pirats; but faileth of his designs. He arriveth at and taketh the Village of el Puerto del Principe”

Sea battle against the Spanish Armada
(engraving beginning of part2, chap 7)
Captain Morgan taketh the City of Maracaibo on the Coast of Nueva Venezuela. Piraces, committed in those Seas. Ruine of three Spanish Ships, that were set forth to hinder the Robberies of the Pirates.”

Sea battle against Spanish Armada [B85.0/ES6(2)]
Sea battle against Spanish Armada [B85.0/ES6(2)]
The fourth part, written by Basil Ringrose, features maps and topographic drawings of the different capes.

Capes and their topographic specifics [B85.0/ES6(2)]
Capes and their topographic specifics [B85.0/ES6(2)]
Those books were published only a few years after the events occurred and they continued to fascinate people throughout the 18th century.

One of the major works on piracy during the 18th century, A general history of the robberies and murders of the most notorious pyrates, first published in 1724, was believed to have been written by Charles Johnson, but the book has also been attributed to Daniel Defoe. Sion College Library possesses a copy of the third edition (with a different title), A general history of the pyrates, from their first rise and settlement in the island of Providence, to the present time.

A general history of the pyrates, 1725 [B82.3/J62]
A general history of the pyrates, 1725 [B82.3/J62]
A portrait of the formidable Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard, faces the title-page.

Bartholomew Roberts [B82.3/J62]
Bartholomew Roberts [B82.3/J62]
The work also features the exploits of Black Bart, i.e. Bartholomew Roberts, a Welsh pirate and one of the most successful of his day.

Although male figures frequently dominate pirate literature, this volume also includes the stories of two iconic female pirates, Anne Bonny and Mary Read.

Ann Bonny & Mary Read, most famous female pirates [B82.3/J62]
Anne Bonny & Mary Read, infamous female pirates [B82.3/J62]
Little is known about the two women and most of the information comes from this work by Charles Johnson. Both Bonny and Read were part of the crew of John “Calico Jack” Rackham and all were captured at the same time. According to Johnson, before Rackham was hanged Anne said to him “that she was sorry to see him there, but if he had fought like a Man, he need not have been hang’d like a Dog“. Mary Read died of fever in prison while pregnant but Johnson remains vague regarding Anne’s fate, finishing his chapter on her life by simply writing: “She was continued in Prison, to the Time of her lying in, and afterwards reprieved from Time to Time; but what is become of her since, we cannot tell; only this we know, that she was not executed“.

For centuries, stories of pirates have captured the imagination of people everywhere. The books we hold in the Sion collection contain the contemporary accounts of these fascinating buccaneers on which many later novels and films have been based. Those who truly wish to ‘Talk Like a Pirate’ would do well to take heed.