Toc H is an international Christian movement formed during World War One. The name is an abbreviation for Talbot House, 'Toc' signifying the letter T in the signals alphabet used by the British Army in World War One. A soldiers' rest and recreation centre named Talbot House was founded in December 1915 at Poperinghe, Belgium. It aimed to promote Christianity and was named in memory of Gilbert Talbot, son of the Bishop of Winchester, who had been killed in July 1915. After the war Toc H branches were founded in countries in many parts of the world.
In 1924, The Firs, a large house on the north side of Winchester Road near the junction with the Avenue, was converted into a Toc H centre. It was the fifth such centre to be opened and was therefore called Mark V. The Firs had been donated to Toc H by its owner Walter Southwell Jones whose son had been killed in France in 1917. The house served as a Toc H centre until 1975 and was demolished in 1978. Talbot Close, named in honour of the founders of Toc H, was built on the site.
In 1932 Talbot House in Brunswick Square was built for the Toc H organization to provide accommodation for young seamen when they were in town, on leave or awaiting a ship.
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