Poperinge Part Ten – Talbot House Part Three: The Garden

Talbot House, this time approached from the east.

I revisited a couple of weeks ago, and a few new photos have been added to the original Talbot House post if you are interested, including Gilbert Talbot’s original wooden cross, which I had failed to photograph on my first visit, and the story behind its arrival in Poperinge.

And a few photos have been removed, having found a better home in this short post, for reasons that will become obvious.

So, to tie up a couple of loose ends,…

…here we are back in the garden, the weather fabulous for mid-January, and behind the tree on the right,…

…an information board, and a bricked-up hole to its left, which may not look much, but served a seriously important purpose during the war.

The little plaque tells us, ‘Here was the entrance to cellars used as a refuge during bombing raids in the Great War’.

And the information board…

…shows exactly what the cellars looked like.  The bombing raids referred to were courtesy of, naturally, the German Air Force.

Elsewhere in the garden,…

…a nice little tale of Tommies entertaining the local kids,…

…and a hole in the wall, which probably has no significance whatsoever.

And here’s the garden in the spring of 1916.  Unfortunately, this picture seems to be the only one of the garden during the war that is in circulation, which is a ridiculous notion, considering the tens of thousands of men who must have spent time here.  I would imagine that many private collections hold photographs of Great Grandfathers in the Talbot House gardens, if they did but know it.  Not only is this the only photograph, but it has been digitized and re-digitized, and thus no longer bears close scrutiny,…

…although luckily this close-up of a section of the photo, from a different source, is much better.  Note the soldier sitting in front of the wall in the centre; the large cross above him suggests that it may be he or his friends whom we have to thank for the existence of this photograph, perhaps posted to loved ones at home with ‘that’s me beneath the X’ scribbled on the back.

January 2020 photo taken from the same spot, near enough; the closest building, the Slessorium, wasn’t built until the early 1930s, the soldier with the ‘X’ actually sitting in front of the wall just peeking out behind on the right.

Mind you, this snippet, originally extracted, presumably, from one of the Talbot House diaries, but sent to me by Morag, might suggest a different tale.  Note the white posts and whitewashed tree trunks; no lights at night, and perhaps the gardens were not as ‘dry’ – no alcohol allowed – as the house was supposed to be.

This has been the final post in our Poperinge series, although we shall return, probably to the town, and certainly to the surrounding fields, at a later date.  The next post, however, several months in the making, and the first of a two-parter, will find us fifteen miles to the south east of Poperinge, as I take you for a stroll in the French countryside.  A stroll?  More like a hike……

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5 Responses to Poperinge Part Ten – Talbot House Part Three: The Garden

  1. Morag Sutherland says:

    Come into the garden and forget about the war

  2. Nick Kilner says:

    Excellent! Very neatly sewn up and a most enjoyable read.
    I need to have a rummage through my photograph collection, there’s something very familiar about that garden and I’ve a feeling I may have photographs of officers sat in chairs near the house. Can’t say for certain, but I’ll let you know either way.

    • Magicfingers says:

      Thankee kindly. I tell you what, if you do have any new pics of the garden, not only yours truly would be delighted, but Talbot House too.

      • Nick Kilner says:

        No joy so far. I wish I could remember what I was researching at the time, as it doesn’t look like I saved the photographs in question. Very frustrating, as I can picture them quite clearly in my minds eye. Three officers sat in arm chairs in one and at least one if not two others with officers sat alone in a chair in the same location, on the slope with part of the house in the background. Clearly the cameraman had set it up to do a run for those who wanted (as was often the case I’m sure). It may not be the garden of Talbot house of course, but I really think it might have been. Its looks awfully familiar.
        I’ve a sneaky feeling I may have been looking for one of your missing generals from the dead donkeys posts at the time, but I couldn’t swear to it. I hate the way my brain works some days lol

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