Finding Number (Click this to view full catalogue structure)TOCH
TitleRecords of Toc H
Extent466 boxes (5.28 cubic metres)
Thumbnail (Click this image to open a larger image)





DescriptionRecords of Toc H comprise administrative papers, including minutes of Central Council 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.

The collection also includes extensive sequences of records relating to individual Toc H branches, as well as 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 newspaper cuttings, artefacts, sound and audio visual materials.

Taken as a whole, the material provides a valuable insight into the activities of an international Christian organisation throughout much of the 20th century and into the 21st century. Papers are of potential use for exploring the history of charitable initiatives, the development of community work, as well as wider issues relating to health and wellbeing.
NotesThe following list details some key terms used by Toc H:

All Hallows Church by the Tower, London: The church where Tubby Clayton was vicar and where his effigy is located;
Associates/ Old Associates: Individuals who worked with Toc H and had special status as they did not commit to the Christian element of membership;
Branch: Local unit of Toc H, formed out of groups;
Builders: Financial donors, not full members;
CAMEO: Come and Meet Each Other events for local communities;
Centre: Community or holiday residences for Toc H activities;
Family Purse: Toc H treasury. Each branch had their own Family Purse and there was a central one at Headquarters. Other funds and trusts were also used to support the organisation;
Guard of the Lamp: Individuals appointed by the District to maintain standards in branches;
Lamps and Rush lights: Symbolised attaining branch or group status respectively by adhering to certain standards;
Mark or House: Hostels where members are offered accommodation on a temporary or longer term basis;
National Festivals: Held every 5 years to celebrate the foundation of Toc H in 1919;
Old House: Talbot House, Poperinge, Belgium;
Pilots: Assisted in directing Districts and Branches, part of the Guard of the Lamp;
Project scheme: Residential projects where young people volunteered in various forms of charitable and social work;
Service clubs: Support for armed forces, administered by the Ministry of Defence;
World Chain of Light: Every December branches light their Lamps to form a chain of light throughout the world.
ArrangementMaterial is arranged into the following 13 series:
/A: Central administration;
/B: Local administration;
/C: League of Women Helpers;
/D: Events;
/E: Community Work;
/F: Military Services;
/G: Overseas;
/H: Research papers;
/I: Press cuttings;
/J: Publications;
/K: Images;
/L: Audio-visual recordings;
/M: Artefacts.

Prior to fully cataloguing this collection, material was previously sorted and provisionally organised into a number of sections. This arrangement, and the numbers assigned to the materials together with the accompanying descriptions, was a temporary measure and the following arrangement has now been superseded:
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;
Section 25 (UN): Unprocessed material;
Section 26 (ADD): Additional material.
Access ConditionsThe 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 Data Protection regulations. 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
Finding AidsA catalogue of this collection is available on the online archive catalogue. Click on the Finding Number to display the summary contents list of the catalogue and to view the full catalogue, or view the catalogue as a PDF file by clicking in the document field below.
DocumentToc H.pdf
Toc H Archive Resource Guide.pdf
Toc H history by Josephine Adams.pdf
Access StatusOpen, but subject to some access restrictions
Creator NameToc H, international Christian movement
Administrative HistoryToc 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, play schemes and work with the elderly, disabled or disadvantaged.

In the present day, the Toc H movement is still guided by its 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
AcquisitionMaterial deposited July 2011. Additional deposits received annually.
Archival NotePapers arranged and described by Jessica Clark, Paul Ford, and Mark Eccleston. Cataloguing completed July 2019 in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description (ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; and in-house cataloguing guidelines.
CopiesIssues of the Toc H 'Journal', covering June 1922 to the end of 1959, have been digitised and are available on the Internet Archive:
Related MaterialCatalogues of personal papers relating to Toc H activities and members available on the online archive catalogue are as follows:

Bell, Heather Agnes (d 2005), welfare officer, Twelfth Army in Burma: papers and photographs, [1940s]. Finding No: MS940;
Nock, Oswald Stevens 'Ossie' (1905-1994), railway engineer and Toc H member: papers, [early 20th century]. Finding No: TOCH/ACC/1;
Parsons, Joe and Margaret, Toc H members: papers, 1930-1965. Finding No: MS951;
Thacker, Martin, letter, with transcription, describing Toc H 21st anniversary celebrations at Crystal Palace, 27 June 1936. Finding No: LAdd/6407-6408
Associated MaterialsTalbot House Museum in Poperinge holds material relating to Tubby Clayton and the foundation of Talbot House. See:
Imperial War Museum, archon code 2865, holds photographs and other materials relating to Rev Philip 'Tubby' Clayton and Toc H
London Metropolitan Archives hold personal papers of Rev Philip 'Tubby' Clayton including family correspondence, reference code: CLC/437
Material relating to individual branches may be located at local record offices
Information relating to the involvement of Toc H in hospital broadcasting can be found at


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