Bench for Talbot House

On Saturday 10th April 2010 members of the Laffin Family gathered at Talbot House in Poperinge for the unveiling of a commemorative bench for John and Hazelle Laffin in the gardens of TochH.

Belgian FFFAIF member Johan Durnez reports on the event:

Many of you will recognize this building. It’s the famous Talbot House in Poperinge and today it had the Australian flag (and the flag of Poperinge) flying at the front door.

Today, there was the unveiling of a special bench in the garden of this place, a bench to commemorate the Australian historian John Laffin and his wife Hazelle who spent many many many hours in this place and in the area of Flanders battlefields.

And as we are Belgian members of the FFFAIF (John Laffin is the Founder and Patron in Memoriam of the Families and Friends of the First AIF ) we were invited and did not want to miss this event.

It started at 10 am in the Concert Hall where we got a general introduction by Jan Louwagie to the history of this place and where we watched a (re-enacted) film of such a concert. Very good and very special when you think of the fact that many thousands of men sat on the place where you sit now to watch the same kind of amusement.

After that followed a guided tour in the Talbot House with a focus on the Australian presence and relics.  And of course… we had Ozzie with us and she was really interested in exploring the places. She even tried the bed in the General’s Room. But she behaved very well in the most sacred place of the house, the Upper Room. A very special place, this chapel in the attic – especially when you think of all these young men who have been there…

The right one of the chandeliers (originally from a four-poster-bed!) has a brass plaque saying ‘in memory of the Australians who worshipped here in 1917’.

At 11.30 am we gathered in the garden for the unveiling of the bench. The Australian flag was removed by John’s sisters.

Then it was the son of John who spoke to the audience.

You see that we were lucky with the weather. The day started foggy but the sun was strong enough to break through. It was lovely to stand in the sun (shadow was still pretty chilly!)

And guess who was the first to sit on the bench…


But soon she got some company…

And then it was time for some family pictures.

And to Flemish standards… it was more than time then to have the social function with the local beer ‘Hommelbier’ (‘hommel’ is the Poperinge dialect for hops!) You probably all know these two Belgian members of the FFFAIF? [Ivan and Johan]

I hope that we were able to give you a taste of again a great Aussie day here in Flanders.


Thanks Johan for sharing your day with us.
For more photos of the unveiling of the John & Hazelle Laffin Memorial bench in the garden of Talbot House, Poperinge click here

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