This blog is written to accompany the first draft of a newly compiled Roll of Lamps – the link to which is at the end of the article – which attempts to catalogue all the Lamps of Maintenance of Toc H. The catalogue is a work in progress. This article recaps the history of the Lamp of Maintenance and explores some of the dedications and other facets of the many lamps issued over the years.
The Lamp is perhaps the image most evocative of Toc H to many people, and like it or not, the phrase “As dim as a Toc H Lamp” will be remembered in popular culture long after all achievements of the Movement are lost in the winds of time.
The focus of this particular article is the Lamp of Maintenance, the symbol of the Men’s branches. I don’t mean to do the Women’s Movement a disservice and I hope to put a similar effort towards cataloguing their Lamps of the Magnificat at a later date. And yes, cataloguing, because accompanying this article is a report from a database of Lamps I have been compiling. I must stress at the outset that this is a work in progress. Ultimately I want it to contain every lamp, every dedication, and all pertinent information relating to it, including its ultimate fate. This I fear could be a lifetime’s work but it is begun. I also want to add colour to the Lamps by exploring the person behind the dedication. This article contains a few snippets like that as well as some statistics based on the database so far.
First let us recap the basics. Most scholars of Toc H and those with an interest in its story will be aware of the history and purpose of the Toc H Lamps so I won’t dwell on these aspects. Suffice to say that in the June 1922 edition of The Journal, Barclay Baron reflected on the ceremonies of organisations such as the Church and the Freemasons, and acknowledged that a group of Toc H men couldn’t gather together in one place without bursting into a verse or two or Rogerum. He bemoaned that fact that Toc H had not then produced a distinctive badge by which the world might know it except the wristlet (which I believe was only available to Foundation Members).
So yearning for something to rival the YMCA’s red triangle; the Freemason’s square and compasses; the Rotary Club’s cog-wheel, Barkis put forward the idea of a lamp. A lamp he described as
the simplest and most beautiful kind of lamp, the little boat-shaped lamp which the Romans used when they wanted a bottle of Falernian out of the cellar.
It appears that these thoughts of Barkis has emerged the previous month when he and Tubby were sitting in the waiting room of a stockbroker in Bristol with whom they had an appointment. Shortly after the article appeared a wooden model had been commissioned from Wippell & co and soon the lamp and casket designed by W. R. Paterson, was made available.
Wippell were from the west of England and initially established themselves as grocers. By 1851, Joseph Wippell had expanded the business into church decorations, many of which were displayed at the Great Exhibition that year. By 1897 they had acquired London premises in Duncannon Street near Trafalgar Square and became the de facto supplier of religious furniture and the like. Wippell and co are still trading today.
The Lamp, which I trust readers of this blog will be familiar with, comprises a cast bronzed lamp with a detachable Cross of Lorraine (The arms of the city of Ypres, use of which was granted to Toc H by the city) replacing the traditional XP of a catacomb lamp, and an extinguisher cap covering the wick at the other end of boat shaped lamp. This was the Lamp of Maintenance (definitely not the Lamp of Remembrance as they are often mistakenly called, even by members, and certainly not the Lamp of Memory which appears in the press many times). Fifty were cast initially but more must soon have been made as by the time of the first Lamp Lighting festival in December 1922 sixty-three Lamps would be lit.
Whilst symbolically critical to branches, materially the lamps were of little consequence; it is the caskets and the dedications thereon that make these historically valuable.
Be aware that there are two types of lamp and casket. From 1922 until 1939 the lamps had a green patina and the caskets, a sliding door to access the storage inside. From 1939 the lamps were Bronze-Brown and the caskets had a lifting lid. There were also some Silver Lamps but more of these later.
The Lamp and the Light
He who now holds this token, may his soul
Remembering of its form and flame the birth
Resolve the Chapel of the lamp be known
For service, not for ease; where Self a throne
For ever lacks, and where the exhausted Earth
From hate by love is conquered and made whole
So much for the physical item but what about the use and regulations.
Until this point, all units of Toc H were known as Branches but the arrival of the Lamp as a badge of merit enabled some changes to the system. Now a unit of Toc H would start out as a Group (later a pre-Group status of Grope would be used informally) and only be elevated to a Branch at the discretion of the Central Council. If they were happy that the unit were ready to become a Branch then a Lamp would be bestowed upon them as a symbol. From 5th June 1923 the Central Council appointed a Guard of the Lamp (originally Tubby, Barclay Baron, and John Hollis), a committee whose duty was to regulate and safeguard all matters concerning Lamps. The Guard would recommend promotion to the Central Council and the Branch would then expected to submit a petition. If granted the Lamp would be loaned to the Branch in stewardship to be returned or recalled if the standards fell or the Branch closed. The Guard were to be reappointed annually.
The date the unit was elevated to Branch status would often be recorded under the Branch name as was the date on which the Lamp was ceremonially bestowed and first lit (Originally by H.R.H. the Prince of Wales). This would happen at a suitable event, normally the December Birthday Party until the Bestowals grew so much in number that the Lamp lighting had to take place at other times and on other continents.
The first lamp-lighting took place at the Guildhall on the 15th December 1922 at the Second Birthday party. Holding a long wax taper, the Prince lit each new Branch lamp (44 Branches, those of 18 schools, and his own) as they approached him in threes; the first man holding the Lamp, the second it’s casket, and the third a Branch banner (Nothing like the banners we later became familiar with).
Despite the long established assumption that all Toc H Lamps were first lit from the Prince’s Lamp, descriptions of the evening in The Journal and the contemporary press are clear that the Branch and School Lamps were lit first then Tubby knelt whilst the Prince’s Lamp was lit. The Prince of Wales Lamp, a silver lamp (See below) was provided by the Prince himself to Toc H as a whole, in memory of his friends. Afterwards it was placed on Croke’s Tomb at All Hallows, firstly in the open but later in a magnificent casket (Described later). Here it remains to this day burning eternally….OK, it’s no longer allowed to be alight most of the time but at least it’s still there.
Binyon wrote these words about the Prince’s Lamp for the 1928 Christmas Annual:
The flame upon the Altar lives
In its own home of Light apart,
And yet it shines on secret tears
And in the darkness of the heart.
More real than any world of ours
Is that still Presence of the Light,
Happy are they who harbour there,
Happy, who keep it whole in sight.
How still, amid our noise and fret,
It burns and trembles and aspires,
Drawing our spirits from the cloud
And aching of our old desires.
The young-eyes spirits whom we knew
Who smiled, and whom we called by name.
Who went in their own faith to die,
Are flames within that trembling flame
Now all the corners of the earth
Look on them where so clear they shine,
A single glory, a radiant fire,
By day and night a silent sign.
O dear, untroubled, happy Dead,
Comrades eternal, now and here
When most we falter in our fight,
When most we fail you, be you near
It is worth taking a few minutes to document when and where the lamp-lighting normally took place. The Birthday Festivals of Toc H, were in those early years, the most magnificent of festivals. The first was held in December 1921 at Grosvenor House in Park Lane. Not the hotel that stands on the site now but a magnificent townhouse that was the London residence of the Duke of Westminster, a good friend to Toc H. It was a gathering of the growing band of Toc H men including Prince Henry, the third son of George V. It was held to celebrate the sixth anniversary of the opening of Talbot House as well as the approximate second birthday of the founding of Toc H as an association.
The following year though was when the celebrations really found their feet. This time events were held over an entire weekend (15-16th December 1922) and at several venues. The date being celebrated was the 15th as – at that time – it was believed to be the date Talbot House opened. 1922 had been Tubby’s annus mirabilis with Toc H receiving its Royal Charter at the Birthday weekend, Toc H getting its Guild Church (or Anglican anchor!) when Tubby received the living of All Hallows, the LWH starting, Peter Monie joining as Honorary Administrator, and, as we have seen, the introduction of the Lamp. The first Lamps were lit at the Guildhall on the Saturday Evening.
In 1923 the party was again held at the Guildhall on the 15th but by 1924 had moved to the Memorial Hall in Farringdon Street, then, in 1925, the size of the Movement necessitated moving to the Royal Albert Hall.
In 1926, Tubby unearthed some letters he sent to his mother that showed that Talbot House actually opened on the 11th December and the birthday moved to that day where it remains. By chance, the following day is also Tubby’s birthday! The 1926 Festival was actually held at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester and 1927 it was back to the RAH. There was no new Lamps lit at the 1928 Festival at the RAH because the Prince of Wales was in Africa but in April 1929 Lamp Lighting took place in Great Church House in Dean’s Yard, Westminster. In December that year they were back at the RAH but 1930 even that venue was outgrown for a National event so Regional Festivals were held without lamp-lighting. Instead a huge summer celebration took place at Crystal Palace in June 1931 where the new Lamps were lit for the first time.
December 1932 saw the festivities move to Birmingham Town Hall whilst 1933 was at the RAH and 1934 at De Montfort Hall in Leicester.1935 was skipped in favour of another summer festival at Crystal Palace in 1936 this time celebrating Toc H’s ‘Coming of Age’. In 1937 they were at the Exhibition Buildings in York and in 1938 back at the RAH then Hitler intervened and it would be 1948 before the Birthday Festival returned in full, once again at the RAH.
Use of Lamps
A Branch was expected to light its Lamp at every meeting although precisely when was not prescribed. The ceremony though was set and was called simply Light. At the appropriate time the Chairman would call Light and all present would stand. The room lights were dimmed and the lamp was lit. It was placed where all in the room could see it and one was expected to gaze on the flame and not to shut one’s eyes. The words of Remembrance would then be spoken by the leader. The original words were based on the middle stanza to Lawrence Binyon’s famous Ode To Remembrance (Itself a subset of three stanzas for the seven stanza poem, For The Fallen)
With proud thanksgiving let us remember our Elder Brethren
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
The last line would be echoed by those present. There would then follow a full minute’s silence before the lamp was extinguished and the house lights turned back on.
Later an alternative form based on The Prayer of St Francis was introduced.
A second rite that utilised the Lamp was the Initiation Ceremony of a new member. In this ritual the lighted lamp was put in the candidates hands by the chairman and the following dialogue played out
Chair: What is this?
Candidate: The Lamp of Maintenance
Chair: What first lit it?
Candidate: Unselfish sacrifice
Chair: What alone will maintain it?
Candidate: Unselfish service
Chair: What is service?
Candidate: The rent we pay for our room on earth
What few will remember is the ceremony of Grand Light! It was decreed that at a common meal or other meeting of the branch deemed proper, the greater rite known as Grand Light could be taken. There is lengthy diatribe about how it should be performed which I’ll precis here. The newest or youngest branch member lights the lamp. All present bring forward a taper which they light at the lamp. The chairman shall strike a bell or bang a hammer on the table and say
“By the Spirit, which this Lamp betokens, let me re-light my torch.”
At which point every member holds his taper aloft. There follows a minute’s silence after which each member extinguishes his taper in a convenient glass or bowl of water. It didn’t catch on!
And one final ceremony which is too large to do justice to here is the World Chain of Light. I will look at this in a separate blog someday.
As mentioned earlier, it is the caskets and their dedications that make the lamps unique and of historical value. It was decided early on that Branches should attempt to get their lamp paid for by a donor in memory of someone they have lost, mostly in the Great War but not exclusively.
This is what the Guard of the Lamp had to say about the rules around this in 1928:
The oak Casket of every Lamp should bear four engraved bronze plates, which are supplied by the Guard of the Lamp. The first plate gives the name of the Branch, the second the date on which the Lamp was ceremonially bestowed and first lit. The other two plates should be engraved with the memorial inscriptions e.g., “The John Smith Lamp” — “In memory of John Smith” (with the particulars of the date and place of his death, etc.). The dedication may, of course, be to any one or more men or women, who have passed over to join the Elder Brethren—whether in the War or otherwise. Clearly a local donor and a name which has particular meaning to the Branch will be specially valued. The cost of the Lamp is £10 10s. A printed form describing the Lamp, etc., for the use of donors can be obtained from the Guard.
Most branches took this task on with gusto which is why, when compiling the database that accompanies this article, it was disappointing to increasingly see the rather unimaginative number of lamps simply dedicated to “the Elder Brethren of Anytown” donated by “the Branch”
There was some discussion about where Lamps should be kept when not in use. Some Branches planned elaborate shrines and caskets; some stood it in a convenient chapel; most bunged them in a cupboard or locker in their branch rooms (from whence they were occasionally stolen e.g. Colchester 1938). At the meeting they normally stood on the table in front of the chairman but some branches favoured a repurposed aspidistra stand (Still in use at the chapel at Talbot House!). For the creative carpenter’s a wall mounted shelf akin to that illustrated was favoured.
Now, it is time to take a look at some non-standard lamps. When the Lamp was introduced and became the emblem of a fully-fledged Branch, it was soon realised that the fledgling Groups would also need something so the Rushlight was introduced in late 1925.
In the thirties a new unit status was introduced – from the US units – for men just starting to gather together in the name of Toc H. It was, rather perfectly, known as a Grope. Although never formally adopted, it did seem to gain currency for a time (including with the LWH) and most Gropes used a simple candle as their emblem.
Mentioning the LWH, I must just reference their emblem, the Lamp of the Magnificat. As I said, I will revisit this in due course but cannot cover it in this article.
Perhaps the most intriguing set of lamps are the almost forgotten silver lamps. Actually just bronze lamps coated in oxidised silver they have no real intrinsic value above the standard lamps but were reserved for special use.
The Prince of Wales Lamp
Endowed and first lit 15th December 1922
Current whereabouts: All Hallows
Though not often realised, the first of these Silver Lamps is the Prince of Wales Lamp. If you see it in All Hallows, its gleam is dull where it stands constantly in the open. A recent close inspection by Adey Grummet, the Education and History Officer at All Hallows, revealed that in the deepest nooks and crannies of the Lamp, there are still traces of the silver plate but mostly it has eroded to reveal the bronze lamp below. Whether this is due to exposure alone, over enthusiastic polishing, or it was deliberately stripped back is currently unknown.
It was decided early on that the Prince’s lamp would need a special casket to house it on Croke’s Tomb. Alex Smithers (Former Major 154th Heavy Brigade) and a member of the Executive presented the design in the early summer of 1923. Branches all asked to send a sketch of the coat of arms for the city or town they represented. The casket was made from bronze, gilt, and enamel set behind polished stones. It is adorned with tiny glass panels on which are painted the arms of the cities and towns aforementioned which are lit from behind.
The City of Ypres Lamp
Endowed 25th March 1923
Current whereabouts: Burgomaster’s Office, Cloth Hall, Ieper
“To the Glory of God and in memory of the men of the Belgian Army who gave their lives in the defence of Ypres”
Presented to M. Colaert, former Burgomaster of Ypres in the Grande Place on Palm Sunday (25th March 1923) by a Lamp Party consisting of B. S. Browne, S.S. Paterson and B. Baron. Dedicated by the Dean of Westminster somewhat belatedly on 8th December 1928 (As part of that year’s Birthday Festival), it was kept in the Hotel de Ville (Former name of Cloth Hall) where it remains to this day in the Burgomaster’s office. (Confirmed by Jan Dewilde, Conservator – March 2020)
The Belgian War Museum Lamp
Endowed 21st August 1924
Current Whereabouts: Royal Museum of the Armed Forces, Brussels
“In memory of Talbot House Poperinghe-Ypres, 1915:1918”
This Lamp was presented to the Belgian War Museum in 1924 by the Prince of Wales, through Colonel Maton, Belgian Military Attaché in London. The Lamp, described as a Model, sits on an Oak pedestal on which there are four silver plates engraved as follows.
- Model of the Lamp of maintenance of Toc H:
- In memory of Talbot House Poperinghe-Ypres, 1915-1918
- Presented to the Royal War Museum of Belgium, 1924
- By His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, Patron of Toc H
An inscription, illuminated by A.A. Moore, accompanied the lamp. The Lamp remains in the museum’s collection (Catalogue No. 1102322) though the museum is now called the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces. (Confirmed by Dr Pierre Lierneux, War Heritage Institute – February 2020)
The Forster Lamp
First lit 13th December 1924
Current Whereabouts: The Saint Michael (Warriors’) Chapel, Christ Church Cathedral, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia
“In memory of John, 2nd Lieut., 2nd Batt. K.R.R.C., killed in action 14.9.1914; and of Alfred, Lt., Royal Scots Grey, died of wounds near Le Cateau 17.10.1918.”
This lamp was given by the Governor General, Lord Forster, and is the lamp from which all other Toc H lamps in Australia were lit. In 1923, the then Governor General of Australia, Lord Forster wrote to Tubby Clayton indicating that he and Lady Forster wished to endow a Toc H Lamp in memory of their two sons who were killed during the Great War. In December 1924 the Forster Lamp was lit by the Prince of Wales at the Royal Albert Hall in London. It was brought to Australia by Tubby Clayton and Pat Leonard in 1925 and given to Lord and Lady Forster.
- At first, it was intended that the Forster Lamp should be presented to the first Toc H Group in Australia to be granted full Branch status, but with Groups starting up almost simultaneously in all States, some Toc H members thought that this could lead to unhealthy competition. It was then suggested that the Forster Lamp should become the Federal Lamp and be kept burning in Christ Church Anglican Cathedral in Newcastle. A Ceremony of Enshrinement was held in 1926 during which the Forster Lamp was placed in the Warriors’ Chapel. In 1927 a great Toc H Festival was held in Christ Church Cathedral and the Forster Lamp was used to light five other Toc H Lamps – from Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Newcastle.
The Herbert Fleming Lamp
First lit 14th May 1925
Relit 11th December 1926
Current Whereabouts: Still being determined
This lamp stood before the Empire Roll of Honour in the Government Pavilion at the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley in 1925. Lit by H.M. the Queen on the 14th May and remained burning until the exhibition closed on the 31st October.
After temporarily resting on the Boardroom table at Toc H HQ, it was presented to the Royal Army Chaplains Department in proud thanksgiving for the life and example of Herbert Fleming, Honorary Administrative Padre 1923-1926. It was lit in his memory at the Eleventh Birthday festival at Manchester on the 11th December 1926 by the Prince of Wales, and dedicated by the Chaplain General to the Forces on the 19th June 1927.
Originally held in a shrine in the chapel of the Royal Military Academy in Woolwich, a panel on the shrine bore the following inscription:
“To the Glory of God and in memory of Herbert James Fleming, C.M.G., C.F., who was Chaplain of the Royal Military Academy from 1911-1914 and 1918-1922, and died while watching the R.M.A. v R.M.C. Rugby Football Match on 17th December, 1926”
A further panel behind the Lamp explained how it came to be donated by Toc H
It was to be lit on Armistice Day each year and then again on 17th November which was Fleming’s birthday.
The Lamp of India
First lit 15th December 1925
Current Whereabouts: Still being determined
Lit 15 Dec 1925 at St Paul’s Cathedral, Calcutta by the Hon. Mr Justice H.G. Pearson Chairman of the Toc H Council of India in front of a congregation the Viceroy and Lady Irwin, and the Governor and Lady Lytton. It was entrusted to the All-India Council of Toc H and burned perpetually on a pedestal in the Chapel of Remembrance with a War Graves cross from the grave of an Unknown Soldier below it.
The Sidney Byass Lamp (The Lamp of Wales)
First lit 7th December 1929
Current Whereabouts: Toc H Archive, Cadbury Special Collection, Birmingham
“In memory of Sir Sidney Byass, Bart., First President of the Toc H Council for Wales, who died on February 18, 1929.”
Lit by the Prince of Wales in London on the 7th December 1929, this silver Lamp was dedicated on the 18th January 1930 by the Archbishop of Wales, a President of Toc H in Wales in Llandaff Cathedral.
Instead of being kept in one place like other national lamps, it was kept a year at time in various Welsh Cathedrals or Churches such as Merthyr, Neath, Swansea and Pontypridd. It also put in appearances at events like the National Eisteddfod in 1953.
Returned to HQ it is now in the Toc H archives at Birmingham University
The Plumer Lamp
First lit 3rd December 1932
Current whereabouts: Silver Store, York Minster
“In memory of Field-Marshall First Viscount Herbert Charles Onslow Plumer of Messines, 1857-1932, President of Toc H”
Lit by the Prince of Wales at Birmingham on the 3rd December 1932, it was deposited in the Zouche Chapel of York Minster and dedicated by Dean of York 3 Sep 1933. It was kept in an aumbry designed by Walter Tapper, the Minster architect. It was later removed from display and is currently in the Silver Store at the Minster.
At the same time as Branches started being granted lamps, Toc H also issued some to affiliated schools. The first 18 listed here were lit at the inaugural Lamp-Lighting festival 15 Dec 1922 but although Toc H continued to work with schools the practice of issuing lamps was stopped as it was a badge of Branch status. Only Bradfield received a Lamp after this time.
Firstly we must mention Knutsford Test School which seems to straddle both the Branch and School camps in those early days. Knutsford was of course the Ordination Test School established by Tubby in the old gaol. They were gifted a lamp that was lit on 15th December 1922 at the Guildhall and they appear at the top of the first School Lamps list. However they also appear in the Branch lists as Branch no. 41. Whatever the position then, the Lamp later became The Padres’ Lamp: In memory of Oswin Creighton, C.F., attached 42nd Bde. R.F.A. 15.4.1918, though I’m not clear where it went to. Creighton was one of Neville Talbot’s officers and chaplains.
And so to the schools proper.
Tubby preached at Berkhamsted School in June 1922 just as the concept of the Lamp was being born. So perhaps it’s no surprise that this Hertfordshire School were one of those to receive a Lamp at that first Lamp Lighting festival on 15th December 1922. Leslie Koulouris, the school archivist, was not able to shed any light on the Lamp’s history at the school but we do know that the plaques are in the archives at Talbot House which suggests the lamp and casket were destroyed.
Bishop’s Stortford College
I currently have no information on the Bishop’s Stortford College lamp. The college do not know its fate.
Mike Sampson at Blundell’s School in Devon assures me that not only do they have the Lamp still but it is on permanent display in the School Chapel on its casket. They have even retained the box in which it was presented including a small explanatory booklet. The school representatives at the Guildhall receiving the Lamp that evening were Mr Gerald Vernon Hotblack (Westlake Housemaster), L. N. Cholmeley, and R. Purvis. Mr Hotblack worked closely with the Schools Section of Toc H and there are records of him speaking at a London Conference in 1928.
This Lamp is still on display at Brighton.
The fate of this Lamp has not yet been ascertained.
Christ’s Hospital School
Like Bromsgrove its whereabouts currently unknown. We do know that two Grecians (Upper Sixth pupils) and one Dep. (Deputy Grecian or Lower Sixth pupil) attended the Guildhall to receive the Lamp. It then stood in the Chapel near the organ to be lit on special days (Armistice etc.) but it is not known when it left the school.
Paul Jordan explains that the college only have the wooden casket and even then one of the wooden panels (Presumably the sliding one) is missing. Another panel is blank and the other two have plaques inscribed ‘Eastbourne College’ and ‘Bestowed 15 XII 1922’. We know that Mr Tanqueray, R.F. Bateman, and A.B. Carter received the Lamp from the Prince on the College’s behalf.
Another Lamp missing in action. School Curator Julia Walton is not sure what happened to it.
King’s School, Canterbury
Mr Mayne along with the School Captain and House-Monitor received the Lamp from the Prince in December 1922. Peter Henderson, Harrow Archivist, is not sure when it went missing but feels it may have been when the school was evacuated during World War II. It must have ended up at Toc H HQ though and scrapped along with the others as the brass, casket plaques have end up in the Talbot House archives.
The fate of the Marlborough Lamp is unknown but curator Gráinne Lenehan is keeping an eye out
Mill Hill School
I’m still waiting hear from Mill Hill about their Lamp.
The whereabouts of the Sedbergh School Lamp is currently unknown but in 2013 local historian and sometime Talbot House Warden Mike Wilson presented the school with the old Sedbergh Branch lamp (Dedicated “In memory of the Old Sedberghians who fell in the Great War 1914-1918” and First Lit in London by the Prince of Wales 27.04.1929) which was given to him by a neighbour.
The Solihull School casket plaques are in the Toc H archive so I am fairly confident the lamp was returned to HQ and subsequently destroyed.
St Edward’s School, Oxford
Another of the original Lamps, St Edward’s School sent a deputation of a master and two boys receive their Lamp from the Prince of Wales on 15th December 1922. It was placed in the Chapel. I haven’t yet established its fate.
St George’s School, Harpendon
I was delighted to hear from the School Chaplain, the Revd. Steve Warner, that this Lamp is still in the care of the school and is used at every Remembrance service.
St. John’s School, Leatherhead
Bestowed on the school by the Prince of Wales on 15th December 1922, the lamp then stood in the chapel on the ledge of the west window. The name plaque is now in the Toc H archive so at some point it was returned to the Movement and almost certainly melted down.
St. Paul’s School
Ginny Dawe-Woodings, School archivist, confirms they received a Lamp but doesn’t know of its fate. According to The Paulian, the school journal, the Lamp was received from the Prince by the Captain of the School, A. M. Farrer accompanied by E. P. C. Cotter and Mr. Temperley. The Lamp was to be stood in the school’s Memorial Chapel which, at the time, was still being completed.
Elizabeth Wells, Archivist and Records Manager at Westminster School, could find no records of the lamp. A lot of the school’s possessions were destroyed in the blitz, including our First World War memorial, and it may well be that the lamp was lost at this time. It was one of the originals lit in December 1922.
Bradfield College (1925)
The only School Lamp not lit in December 1922, this one was given to the college in early 1925 by Mrs Robertson, the mother of an old Bradfield boy, Edward John Macrory Robertson who died at the Battle of Festubert in May 1915. He is buried at Beuvry Communal cemetery. The dedication reads, In memory of Mac Robertson, Lieut., 70th Battery, Royal Field Artillery. Festubert, 22.5.1915; and of the boys of Bradfield College who gave their lives in the war. Mrs Robertson had also already given The Unknown Heroes’ Lamp to Portsmouth Branch and paid for the Unknown Heroes’ Room at Mark V (Southampton). Bradfield College was where Kate Luard [link] was Matron but whether this had any bearing on the bestowal is not known. The Mac Robertson Lamp was later earmarked for reendowing to Bushey and Oxhey Branch and lit on 4-Mar-1936 (although I have contradictory information about the dedication on the Branch lamp that is yet to be unravelled). The whereabouts of the Mac Robertson Lamp are unknown.
The above list mentions the destruction of lamps several times so it is worth a brief note on what this is about. Essentially as Branches closed and members died, some Lamps were returned to HQ and were stored in a shed at Wendover. Eventually, and with an office move on the horizon, a decision was made to get rid of many of these surplus lamps. Plaques were taken from the caskets and stored – eventually being split between the Talbot House archive in Poperinge and the Toc H archive in Birmingham. Those who were around at the time believe the lamps were melted down to prevent them being sold on the open market whilst the wooden caskets were skipped. Letters were semnt out to known branches and holders asking for the return of Lamps to prevent them being sold on eBay or in antique shops.
Thankfully many lamps survive with remain branches and members, in museums and churches or in collectors hands. Others probably sit in attics across the world and will one day resurface.
A word about logos and badges
The Lamp has, of course, been central to Toc H logos and badges since it was introduced and whilst the earliest logo – the lovely art deco monogram – didn’t incorporate a Lamp, everyone since did, until the unpopular ‘rugby posts/TV aerial’ that was used briefly in the new millennium. And since badges were generally based on the logo, they too have largely included a lamp or a stylised interpretation of a lamp on them. See this blog [link] for a look at badges. And here’s a rare example of a logo that included a lamp. This is the little used combined Toc H and Rover Scouts Logo for when the former were largely responsible for forming and running the latter throughout the UK.
This is the first ever Toc H logo that incorporates the Lamp. It’s from 1922 and was used for literature of the period.
When is a Toc H Lamp not a Toc H Lamp
Finally in this section, we have spoken a lot about what the Lamp is, so perhaps a cautionary word on what it isn’t!
You will frequently see Scripture Union badges being sold on eBay as Toc H badges. Sure they feature a catacombs style lamp but that is a very common icon. Early British Nursing Association badges also featured one as did the pictured American Lamp Lighters badge which may or may not be connected to the Christian Lamplighters Ministries.
Perhaps though the worst case of mistaken identity is this one. In a New Zealand chapel?? It claims that the lamp in the larger picture is a Lamp of the Brotherhood or Fraternitatis Lumen, one of 84 decorative oil lamps cast from the bronze doors of the destroyed Monte Cassino Abbey in Italy. Clearly this is a Toc H Lamp of Maintenance. The Lamp of the Brotherhood (Inset) is quite different. Not quite sure who managed this fubar!
And thus we end our look at the story of Lamps in Toc H and now turn to the stories of some of those memorialised with them.
We Will Remember Them
A look at some well-known figures associated with Lamps. Please note, if I say someone is commemorated on a Lamp I do of course mean the casket plaques.
Sir Henry Rider Haggard, the author of She and King Solomon’s Mines (Amongst many other titles) along with his brother, Major Arthur Haggard, donated the Lancelot Haggard Lamp to Montreal Branch in memory of Arthur’s son.
The poet Rupert Brooke, was remembered by the Branch of his birthplace, Rugby. The Rupert Brooke Lamp was inscribed with the dedication, “In memory of Rupert Brooke, Poet. Died at Seyros, 23.4.1915, whilst serving with the Royal Naval Division.” It was donated by his mother Ruth.
Another war poet remembered with a Lamp is Julian Grenfell who is commemorated on the Buenos Aries Lamp. On 13 May 1915 Julian a shell landed yards from where Julian was standing. A splinter of shrapnel hit him in the head. He was taken to hospital in Boulogne where he died of his wounds two weeks later with his parents and sister at his bedside. The text on the Lamp reads “In memory of J. H. F. Grenfell, D.S.O., Capt., 1st R. Dragoons. Ypres. 26.5.1915.” It was donated by his father, Lord Desborough.
When Baron Sackville (Lionel Edward Sackville-West), who served in Gallipoli, Egypt, Palestine and France, passed over in January 1928, the Sevenoaks Branch Lamp was donated in his memory by his daughter. She was Victoria Sackville-West better known as Vita, a notorious novelist, poet, diarist, and garden designer whose bisexuality caused waves in society at the time.
An intriguing pair of plates unearthed in a box of lamp plaques at the Birmingham archives caught my attention. Unfortunately they are separated from the other plates so I don’t yet know which Branch Lamp they belong to. There are two plates, the first of which reads ‘In memory of Sister Julia Childers and Sister Julia Lake’ whilst the second says ‘Founders of the Nursing Sisters of St John the Divine 1880’. So what makes these interesting? Well the Community of St John the Divine were founded in London in 1848 (They are now based in Birmingham) but it was their midwifery service based in St John’s House, Poplar that made them well-known. Though I can’t establish that date of 1880 as being the start of this service, certainly at the 1881 Census the two women were both living at St John’s House, 210 East India Dock Road. Childers was listed as Sister in Charge of Nursing Home whilst Lake was a nurse. OK, but why so interesting. Well St John’s House was written about by Jennifer Worth in her best-selling trilogy of books about midwifery in London in the 50s and, under the pseudonym of Nonnatus House, was central to the popular TV series Call The Midwife!
In less literary fields, the Bootle Lamp was “Dedicated to Samuel Plimsoll, the originator of the Plimsoll Mark in Shipping”
The Street Lamp is dedicated “In memory of John Bright Clark. Street, 6.4.1933. “The path of the just is as the shining light.” Clark was the head of Clark’s shoes and the grandson of the founders Cyrus and James Clark.
Barking’s Lamp was “In memory of G. A. Studdert Kennedy. Passed over, 8.3.1929”. Kennedy was better known as Woodbine Willie, one of the more famous chaplains of WWI
Evesham dedicated their Lamp “In memory of Gino Watkins, Artic Explorer. Drowned Lake Fjord, Greenland, 20.8.1932, aged 25”.
Shackleton, in Buenos Aries, unsurprisingly dedicated their Lamp “In memory of Sir Ernest H. Shackleton, C.V.O., O.B.E., LL.D., Explorer. South Georgia, 5.1.1922”.
The Devonport Lamp was dedicated to Captain Falcon Scott (Scott of the Antarctic) whilst the Isle of Dogs, more generically, paid tribute “To those who, while exploring uncharted regions, found comradeship and life through death”
The New Plymouth (New Zealand Lamp) was dedicated to Arthur Ambury who, on June 3rd , 1918, went to the aid of William Gourlay, who had become stranded on ice near the summit of Mount Taranaki. Ambury, a 37-year-old father of four young children, was climbing with his wife Annie and two friends when, up ahead, they saw Gourlay, 20, and two other men having difficulty walking down as a heavy mist descended. Then, suddenly, Gourlay lost his footing and began to slide. The Horowhenau Chronicle reported
“It was here that Mr Ambury showed his heroism. Taking a chance which he must have known would be a very remote one of saving the falling man, he stuck his alpenstock (ice pick) fast in the ice, took a firm hold with his feet, and endeavoured to catch the body of Gourlay and check his descent. The impact, however, was such that Ambury was unfooted, his alpenstock broken, and the two men slid, it is estimated, a distance of about 1200ft and finally went over into a gully.”
It took a team of about 20 men to recover the men’s remains the following morning, far beneath what is now known as Ambury Bluff.
Whilst many lamps were dedicated to those who lost their lives during the Great War, others commemorated heroes from other times:
The Oliver Gosnold Clark Lamp (Bradwell)
In memory of Ranger Clark, who gave his life for others while fighting a forest fire. Vancouver Island, 25.6.1925
The Lindsay Lamp (Abadan, Persian Gulf)
In memory of Robert Leiper Lindsay, who lost his life preventing the spread of fire at an oil station at Tembi, 9.7.1917
The Noble Fleming Jenkins Lamp (Grimsby)
In memory of Brig.-General Noble Fleming Jenkins, C.M.G., C.B.E., who gave his life in attempting to rescue a girl from drowning, St Leonard’s-on-Sea, 19.8.1927
The Douglas Frederick Ogborn Lamp (Wood Green)
In memory of Douglas Frederick Ogborn, medical student, who passed over summer 1926: he gave his life to save his friend’s mother from drowning at St Ives, Huntingdon.
This is one of the most intriguing
The Blackall Lamp (Leytonstone)
In memory of Reginald Griffith Blackall, who gave his life for his friends; he died 29.11.1925, aged 44, a victim of X-ray research
Whilst this, is many ways, one of the saddest
The Abbey Lamp (Darlington)
In memory of William Byland Abbey who died at Ferryhill in the discharge of his duty. 16.2.1928
I wonder if the subsequent execution of his kkiller was discussed at length during Branch meetings?
Coventry’s Lamp was retrieved virtually unscathed from the ruins of the Services Club in Middlesborough Road following the Blitz
Colchester’s Lamp was stolen from the branch’s HQ in 1938. It apparently turned up in the river much later
The earliest commemorated Great War death on a Lamp I have found is that of John Forster. He died on 14th September 1914 and is commemorated on the silver Forster Lamp which is the Federal Lamp of Australia.
Perhaps the last commemorated War death before the treaty of Versailles was signed is that of Karl Krall who died 28th February 1919 and is remembered on the Agra (India) Lamp
The Brislington (Bristol) Lamp is dedicated “In memory of Paul Klimas, a German Soldier unknown to us, whose grave we continually tend.”
A Few Lists
The 44 Branch Lamps lit at the 7th Birthday festival
On Friday 15th December 1922 at the Guildhall in London, the Lamps of 44 branches were lit for the first time (plus the Prince’s Lamp) along with 18 School Lamps. The Lamps were lit in order of Foundation:
- London Mark I
- London Mark II
- London Mark III
- Spen Valley
- North Staffs**
- Derby Central
- London Mark VII
*Later renamed Deeside & District
** aka Stoke-on-Trent
Now we look at some other lists of Lamp dedications. They are not definitive lists of the subject matter explorer, simply examples. Information shown is Name of Lamp, Branch and the Dedication on the Casket.
10 Lamps Dedicated to Officers and Men Awarded the Victoria Cross
The Frank Maxwell Lamp Guildford
In memory of Frank Maxwell, V.C., Brig-Gen., 27th Lowland Brigade. Ypres, 21.9.1917
The M.O.’s Lamp Oxford
In memory of N. G. Chavasse, V.C., R.A.M.C., and of Aidan Chavasse.
Four Brothers Lamp York
In memory of Four Brothers : Lt.-Col. W. H. Anderson, V.C., 12th H.L.I., Maricourt, March, 1918 ; Capt. C. H. Anderson, 1st H.L.I., Missing, December, 1914 ; 2nd Lt. A. R. Anderson, 1st H.OL.I., Vieille Chapelle, October 1915 ; Capt. E. K. Anderson, R.F.C., Winchester, 1918.
The Good Hope Lamp Capetown Central
In memory of T. O. L. Wilkinson, V.C., Loyal North Lancs. 5.7.1916 : and of Eric Hitchcock, 3rd South African Infantry. 11.6.1918.
The Rupert Lamp Port Talbot
In memory of Rupert Hallowes, V.C., M.C., 2nd Lt., Middlesex Regt. Ypres, 1.10.1915
The Carter Lamp Truro
In memory of Herbert Augustine Carter, V.C., Major, 101st Grenadiers, Indian Army. Mivele Mdogo. B.E.A. 13.1.1916
The Parsons Lamp Basingstoke
In memory of Hardy Falconer Parsons, V.C., 2nd Lt., 14th Battn. Gloucester Regt., aged 20. The Knoll, Villers-Faucon, 22.8.1917; and of Ewart Moulton Parsons, Lt., R.A.F., aged 19. Eastbourne, 17.6.1918
The Congreve Lamp Malta
In memory of General Sir Walter Congreve, V.C., and of his son, Brevet Major William Congreve, V.C.
The Ranken Lamp Irvine
In memory of Harry Sherwood Ranken, V.C., Capt., R.A.M.C. attd. 1st K.R.R.C. Died of wounds, the Battle of Aisne, 25.9.1914, aged 31 years.
The Sydney Woodroffe Lamp Marlborough
In memory of Sydney Woodroffe, 2nd Lieut., V.C., 8th Rifle Brigade. Hooge, 30.7.1915.
10 Lamps Dedicated to officers awarded a Distinguished Service Order
The Parker Lamp Perth, Western Australia
In memory of Frank Parker, D.S.O., Major, 8th Field Artillery. Egypt, 27.3.1915.
The Tebbut Whitehead Lamp Port Elizabeth, South Africa
In memory of Tebbut Whitehead, Lt.-Col., D.S.O., M.C., O.C. Prince Alfred’s Guard, and late of 13th Royal Fusiliers. Died at Port Elizabeth, 6.1.1926
The Douglas Hall Lamp Boldre
In memory of Major-Gen. Douglas Keith Elphinstone Hall, C.M.G., D.S.O. 29.9.1929
The Dunster Force Lamp Spen Valley
In memory of Bernard John Haslam, Major (acting Lt.-Col.), D.S.O., R.E. Baku. 26.8.1918
The Reginald Henry Napier Settle Lamp Bath
In proud and loving memory of Reginald Henry Napier Settle, D.S.O., M.C., Major (tempy. Lt.-Col.) 19th Royal Hussars, attached M.G.C. Killed in action in the Great War.
The King Lamp Auckland, New Zealand
In memory of George Augustus King, Lt.-Col., D.S.O. with Bar, Croix de Guerre, 1st Canterbury Regiment and N.Z. Staff Corps. Passchendaele. 12.10.1917
The Lukin Lamp East London, Cape of Good Hope
In memory of Major-General Sir Henry Timson Lukin, K.C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O., South Africa, 1926
The Knox Lamp Nuneaton
In memory of James Meldrum Knox, D.S.O., Bt. Lt.-Col. Royal Warwickshire Regt. Asiago Plateau, 23.9.1918; and of Andrew Ronald Knox, 2nd Lt., Royal Engineers. Albert, 12.3.1915.
The Gus King Lamp Mount Eden-Auckland, New Zealand
In memory of Lt.-Col. George Augustus King, D.S.O. with Bar, Croix de Guerre, 1st Canterbury Regiment and N.Z. Staff Corps. Passchendaele, 12.10.1917.
The Bertie Blair Lamp Whitehaven
In memory of R.C.R. Blair, Captain, D.S.O., 5th Battn. Border Regiment. France, 21.7.1916. “He died as he had lived – a gallant English gentleman in the midst of men who loved him.”
10 Lamps Dedicated to Officers & Men who fell on the first day of the Somme
The Neville Woodard And Richard Leonard Hoare Lamp Sheffield
In memory of Neville Woodard, grandson of the founder of the Woodard Schools. Died 3.7.1905; Also of Richard Leonard Hoare, Capt., 12th London Regt. (“The Rangers”) Gommecourt 1.7.1916
The Jack And Geoffrey Lamp Derby Central
In memory of J. B. Hoyle, Lt., 7th Batt., South Lancs., Ovillers-la-Boisselle. 1.7.1916, and of G. M. Hoyle, Lt., 2nd Batt., Sherwood Foresters, Hooge, 9.8.1915.
The Three Brothers’ Lamp Belfast Central
In memory of Ernest Hewitt, Lt., 4th Batt. K.O.R.I.R., 15.6.1915, Holt Hewitt, Lt., and William Hewitt, Inniskillem Fusiliers, 1.7.1916.
The Bickersteth Lamp Cudham
In memory of Stanley Morris Bickersteth, Lt., 15th Batt. West Yorks. (Prince of Wales’ Own). Serre. 1.7.1916
The Loughburian Lamp Loughborough
To the glory of God and in loving memory of Arthur Donald Chapman, 2nd Lt., 1/5th North Staffordshire Regt., Somme, 1.7.1916, and of all his fellow Loughburians who fell, 1914-1918.
The Willie Frost Lamp Doncaster
In memory of Willie Frost, Sergt., Yorks and Lancs Regt. Somme. 1.7.1916.
The Nephews Lamp Keston
In memory of John Sydney Allen Stoneham, Sergt., 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles, killed at Festubert, 2.6.16 ; of Philip Allen Stoneham, L/Cpl., Lord Strathcona’s Horse, missing after the First Balle of Ypres, 24.5.1915 ; of Greville Cope Stoneham, 2nd Lt., 1st Royal Berks Regt., killed on the Somme, 10.11.1916 ; of Allen Barclay, B.Sc., 2nd LT., Royal Engineers, killed at Givenchy, 24.4.1915 ; of Kenneth Barclay, Pte., London Scottish, killed at Zillebeke, 12.11.1914 ; and of Eric Henry Lloyd Clark, 2nd Lt., R.F.A., killed on the Somme, 1.7.1916.
The Paul Pollock Lamp Duncairn, Belfast
In memory of Paul Gilchrist Pollock, 14th Battn. Royal Irish Rifles (Y.C.V.s). Somme, 1.7.1916
The Lionel David Lamp Codsall
In memory of Lionel Adolf David David, 2nd Lt., 7th Yorks. Regt. Fricourt, 1.7.1916
The Ludlow Lamp Solihull
In proud and loving memory of Stratford Walter Ludlow, Capt., 8th Battn. Royal Warwichshire Regt. Beaumont Hamel Serre. 1.7.1916. “Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.”
10 Officers and Men who fell at Hooge with Lamps Dedicated to them
(To the best of my knowledge Gilbert Talbot has two lamps dedicated to him and W.T.M. Bolitho also has two. My first thought regarding Bolitho was that Exeter had their Lamp withdrawn and reissued to Penzance. This does not appear to be the case as Exeter remained a Branch whilst Penzance became one. Therefore I must conclude that Bolitho had two lamps dedicated to him – one by his father and one by his mother. I wonder if there is a further story to read between the lines!)
The James Clark Lamp Edinburgh
In memory of James Clark, Lt.-Col., C.B., commanding 9th Battn., Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. Hooge, 10.5.1915
The Bolitho Lamp Exeter
In memory of W. T. M. Bolitho, Lt., 19th Royal Hussars. Chateau Hooge. 24.5.1915.
The Penzance Lamp Penzance
In memory of W. T. M. Bolitho, Lt., 19th Royal Hussars. Chateau Hooge, 24.5.1915; and of the Elder Brethren of Penzance
The Frederick Usherwood Lamp Bishop Auckland
In memory of Frederick William Usherwood, Sergt., 3rd Dragoon Guards, who fell in action on the night of May 31-June 1, 1915, at Hooge, Belgium.
The Gilbert Talbot Lamp *
In memory of Gilbert Talbot, Lieut., Rifle Brigade. Hooge, 30.7.1915.
*This lamp was first issued to Franham in 1922 but withdrawn. In 1925 it was reissued to Keiskama Hoek in Cape Province and then Relit when they merged with King William’s Town in 1936.
Gilbert’s Lamp Norwich
In memory of my friend, Gilbert Talbot (Hooge, 30.7.1915), from whom Toc H derives its name. G.R.R.C.
The Keith Rae Lamp Blackburn
In memory of Keith Rae, Lt., Rifle Brigade. Hooge. 30.7.1915
The Sydney Woodroffe Lamp Marlborough
In memory of Sydney Woodroffe, 2nd Lieut., V.C., 8th Rifle Brigade. Hooge, 30.7.1915.
The Jack And Geoffrey Lamp Derby Central
In memory of J. B. Hoyle, Lt., 7th Batt., South Lancs., Ovillers-la-Boisselle. 1.7.1916, and of G. M. Hoyle, Lt., 2nd Batt., Sherwood Foresters, Hooge, 9.8.1915.
The Willoughby Lamp Malton
In memory of Digby Willoughby, Comdr., HMS Indefatigable. Jutland, 31.5.1916; and of Godfrey Willoughby, Capt., The Rifle Brigade. Hooge, 9.8.1915.
The Jeffries Lamp Market Harborough
In memory of Harold John Fotheringham Jeffries, Major, 5th Battn. Leicestershire Regt. Hooge Salient, 26.9.1915.
Let me end with whast is perhaps my favourite dedication on any lamp. It was on the casket of the Greenford, Middlesex Lamp, endowed in November 1938 and first Lit that December at the Royal Albert Hall:
To peace among men. Say not the Elder Brethren of Greenford and of the world died in vain.
Herewith is the link to a PDF report from the database. Clicking on this link will open the file in a new window (tab). Please be aware that this is still a very early version of the database and there is much more data to be recorded and many errors to be unravelled. What you see is what you get!