Poperinge Part Eight – Talbot House Part Two: The Slessorium

For those of you not with us last post, this is Talbot House, in Poperinge.

And this, in the garden, is the Talbot House Slessorium.

The what?

The Slessorium, of course.  What did you think I said?

In the years following the war, families and veterans from all over the United Kingdom and elsewhere returned to Flanders to see where their loved ones fought and died, or to pay their respects at the graves of fallen comrades, or simply to visit old haunts, which for many would include Poperinge, and inevitably Talbot House.

And this exhibition within the Slessorium,…

…the what?  No, okay, we’ve done that to death.  After the war Maurice Coevoet, the owner of the house who had leased it to the British Army during the war years, moved back in, and for a number of years, probably understandably, he refused entry to the pilgrims who would turn up, unannounced, on his front doorstep.  In time he was persuaded to allow groups to view the house at prearranged times, and, perhaps inevitably, in 1929 he decided to sell up and move.  With financial support from Lord Wakefield of Hythe the house passed into the hands of the “Talbot House de Poperinghe” Association, whose secretary, Major Paul Slessor (now you see where we’re going), began to renovate the house to cater for the many battlefield visitors, and in the garden he built a bathhouse for their use, which became known as the Slessorium.

And here it is soon after construction, I would think, with a look inside in the inset.

So, as I was saying, today, this exhibition within the Slessorium (back on track now) tells their story.

The panels are self-explanatory,…

…and all enlarge big enough for you to read the text,…

…so I am going to put my feet up for the next part of this post while you have a look at the exhibition from the comfort of your own chaise longues.  Click all or any to enlarge.

A Final Word

Fast forward thirty years or so.  Now I knew about this appearance, but I never thought I’d uncover some stills from the presumably long gone film:

So here’s Tubby Clayton looking utterly bemused by the whole ‘This Is Your Life’ experience in February 1958.  I have added the arrow as he’s about the only person who is obscured in the first picture.

I gather Tubby became rather exasperated that he was unable to converse with old friends for more than a few seconds before they were whisked away to make room for the next guest.  Referring to Tubby’s life as ‘a story so eminently worth telling, about so famous a personality’, a newspaper review bemoaned ‘It is the camera that holds the face in close-up that one dislikes; the tricks of the trade, the pompous recital of Eamonn Andrews, the pinning down of the specimen whether with or without his consent’. The programme was still causing controversy for the BBC, despite this being Series Three!

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6 Responses to Poperinge Part Eight – Talbot House Part Two: The Slessorium

  1. Morag Sutherland says:

    I will have a look at panels in Slessorium tomorrow. Thanks for sharing your tour
    I tried to add that names in original visitors book are available online in TH website if anyone wants to check if a relative wernt through the old house.
    Of course in spite of every man tag a lot of the signatures in the book belong to officers

  2. Margaret Draycott says:

    Have visited Talbot House garden(must get round to ordering a rose) never realised about the slessorium. Some very moving and emotional pieces written the one about the old lady dropping onto her sons grave brought a tear. Can’t imagine what those pilgrimages must have been like. If I visit again must try to get into the slessorium thankyou for giving us the chance to look inside

    • Magicfingers says:

      I nearly missed it myself. I was at Talbot House for quite a few hours and nearly left without exploring the Slessorium. But luckily I remembered, and was very glad that I did.

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