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HISTORY MATTERS

Toc H, Albany: Mark I Australia

On the 5 December 1931, Norman House (then named Edwards House) became the first Toc H Mark I for Australia. In 1931, there were 28 Marks in the world, the first in the Commonwealth by way of gift from Miss Dymes

Mr. Ray Geise, OAM and Tanya McColgan | Published 24 February 2024

On the 5 December 1931, Norman House (then named Edwards House) in Albany, Western Australia became the first Toc H Mark I for Australia.  Toc H was a British Christian charity which commenced by providing support and assistance to servicemen in WWI and subsequently broadened into a more general social welfare organisation with a focus on ex-servicemen.

 

Edward House was a place of refuge, solace, it was a living war memorial, a chapel, a home.

 

In 1931, there were 28 Marks in the world, the first in the Commonwealth by way of gift from Miss Dymes.  Edward House became the headquarters for Toc H in the Great Southern and played a significant role in social welfare charities across the region and state, especially during the 1930s depression.

 

A very large attendance of people, not only of the citizens of Albany but of Toc H and Leagues of Women's Helpers (L.W.H) from units throughout Western Australia, attended on the front lawn to witness a historical event.

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The Opening of Edward House, MARK I AUSTRALIA

On the 5 December 1931, MARK I AUSTRALIA was officially opened by the then State President of Toc H, Lieutenant General Sir Joseph John Talbot Hobbs, KCB, KCMG, VD, the State Padre, Rev. H. E. King, the Mayor of Albany, Mr. George William Stead, members of the State Executive and of the Albany Executive and other members of the official party, they mounted the steps for the commencement of the opening service.

Lieutenant General Sir Joseph John Talbot Hobbs commanded "Open, in the Name of the Great Elder Brother," and as the front door swung open the Padre pronounced the benediction; "Peace be to this house and all who dwell therein."

 

On behalf of Miss Dymes, Mrs Rae then handed to the State President the deeds of MARK I, saying; ​"Herewith, I present to Toc H the title deeds of this house, to be known as Edward House and to be dedicated for the purpose of a Mark, wherein members of Toc H, shall live together, in love, joy and peace."

At the request of the State President, the Mayor then unveiled a tablet bearing the inscription: "This House, named' by the gracious permission of H.R.H., the Prince of Wales, Edward House" was presented to Toc H and opened as Mark I Australia.

A Gracious Gift from Miss Annie Dymes 

Miss Annie Dymes, a woman whose chief interest in life was youth movements. She rendered great assistance by her philanthropy, to the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides and when she knew that Toc H, Albany Branch sought to establish a Mark for young men, she made the magnificent gesture of conveying to them the house known as Edward House and Cheyne's Cottage (at the rear of Edward House).

 

Mr. R. A. Marshall, who was the first Warden of Edward House, related many interesting details of the house and the interest taken in Toc H by Miss Dymes. In order to keep the homely atmosphere of the house and to be reserved, Miss Dymes donated much of the furniture which had been in the house for years and which still remained when Mr Marshall was there.  Miss Dymes, last act before leaving for England, unfortunately never to return, was to visit the house. She went from room to room and in each room, she knelt and said a prayer for God's blessing on the house and the people who lived in it. One of her expressed wishes was that a chapel or "quiet room" should be built among the rafters of the house, as in the original Talbot House, the old house at Poperinghe, and this Toc H had been able to do.

Sir Talbot spoke of the unselfish sacrifices made by Miss Dymes in support of all youth movements, which had culminated in this magnificent gift to Toc H.  Miss Dymes' selflessness would not be forgotten and a 14 room old English home, which included a library, dining room or mess room, billiard room and several bedrooms. Edward House stands on a commanding, overlooking Princess Royal Harbor and directly opposite the post office. The Mark was surrounded by a beautiful old-world garden.

On 30 June, 1932, under the heading 'News from London' addressed to Padre Arthur Ernest White, Presentation to Miss Dymes’ reads; Writing to Rev. A. E. White from London, Archdeacon Adams, of Bunbury describes a pleasant re-union of former residents of Western Australia at All Hallow's Church, Barlding-By-the-Tower, on June 1. He attended a special service on that day, when Rev. "Tubby" Clayton, Founder-Padre of Toc H and Sir William Campion, late Governor of Western Australia and State and Federal President of Toc H Australia, took part in a presentation to Miss A. Dymes’. After Miss Dymes' wonderful gift to Toc H of her old home in Albany, it was decided to present her with a gold brooch, bearing the Lamp of Toc H in miniature, as a symbol of life membership of the League of Women Helpers of Toc H.

 

It was singularly appropriate, that the presentation should have been made by "Tubby" Clayton and Sir William Campion, one the founder of the now world-wide organisation, of Toc H, and the other one of the greatest champions of the movement in Australia, and a man who had a greater and more far-reaching influence than many people have ever realised. The presentation was made by Sir William Campion, who made a short but very impressive address, after which "Tubby" Clayton pinned the brooch to Miss Dymes' dress.

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Padre Arthur Ernest White 

An army captain and chaplain, Arthur Ernest White enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in March, 1916 and returned to Albany, Western Australia in 1918. 

 

It is recorded that Padre White conducted a morning service at St John's Anglican Church on York Street on Sunday, February 24, 1918, it is understood from collective accounts that he also held a private Requiem Mass for the families of the Battle Dead, proceeding with the congregation, climbing to the Summit  to Mt Clarence.

In November 1929, Padre White became the 'spiritual leader' and chaplain for the Toc H Albany Branch and followed when Albany Branch was given Mark I status.  He continued to be the Toc H chaplain until his departure in 1938. 

 

Initiated by the hands of Tubby Clayton and outlined in the Toc H Journals Vol.1 No. 3, dated Nov.1929 (Page 4) (source: Toc H Australia archives) read; 

'ALBANY, this month has seen our dropping spirits revive. If our notes of last month sounded dismal, such sadness was justified in that we had lost our original Padre; if we seem rather jolly this month, such jollity is due to our finding another jovial “spiritual lead” in Padre White, an initiate at the hands of the rotund being Tubby.'

 

In 1930, Padre White instigated the twin traditions of casting a wreath into King George Sound and climbing to the top of Mount Clarence. He kept these traditions, fiercely for the rest of his incumbency at St John's Church and Toc H Mark I. It is noted in the Toc H Journals that after the Dawn Service on the 25 April 1930, the Mt Clarence assemblage returned to the St John Church, were Toc H members and the League of Women’s Helpers provided breakfast for the parishioners.

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The Spirit of Mark I Australia

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As part of the Opening Ceremony, State Padre, Rev. H. E. King, dedicated the Mess Room and the State Room in memory of Frank Rawlings Dymes, the Warden's Room and the Library in memory of Captain William John Rae, the bedrooms in memory of Humphrey Hassell and Geoffrey Talbot and the Common Room in memory of Bob Payne.

The hymn "Fight the Good Tight" preceded the Toc H Prayer and the Lord's Prayer. The public being assembled at the rear of the premises, the Chairman of Toc H Albany, Mr. J. Dodds, read a number of messages of congratulations from H.R.H. the Prince Edward VIII of Wales, Tubby Clayton, Founder of Toc H, Sir William Campion, Governor of Western Australia and units of Toc H throughout the world. 

 

Sir Talbot briefly described the aims and objects of Toc H. It was a "Living War Memorial." Marks were established to foster the ideals of the movement by enabling men to live together, in fellowship with Christ and with each other. The hostellers would be a picked team, representing all denominations and various occupations. A Mark stood not merely to serve the convenience of the individual, but to enlist him in the service of his fellows. "Some of us," said Sir Talbot, "were able to witness the dedication of the rooms in the house, to the memory of those whom we know as the Elder Brethren. They carried out their jobs of service and did not return. In each room so dedicated will be seen, a photograph of the Elder Brother, with some of his personal belongings.

"Today the eyes of Toc H throughout Australia are centred upon Albany, for upon Albany has fallen a grave responsibility, as well as a high honour, bringing with it a demand for fuller service."

Concluding, the blessing of the house, the President stated that already requests had been made by residents of Albany and elsewhere, to have some portion of the house dedicated to their dear ones, who had made the supreme sacrifice. Such requests were welcomed by the Albany Branch, who would make provision for the memory of these elder brethren to be preserved in the house.

The fourteen room old English home was dedicated to the memory of fallen men and portraits of these "elder brethren" were seen hanging on the walls of the rooms bearing their names.  lt is custom in the Mark on the anniversary of the death of the person whom they have pledged to remember, to recite the words in the Toc H Ceremony of Light, which ends "We will remember them." Thus, a Mark may be said to be a Memorial House.

Mark I Australia had a very fine chapel at the top of the stairs, simple in its setting, with the "Carpenter's Bench" as an altar and sat 'The Rae' Lamp of Maintenance. Photographs of overseas Marks and chapels grace the walls. In the common room, where the meetings are held, there was a unique roll of honour, which is representative of the Australian family of Toc H. Wherever a unit of Toc H exists in the Commonwealth, the name of elder brothers, who enlisted from their district is inscribed on a nickel plate and affixed on this roll. A special Book of Remembrance is kept, in connection with this role, every Toc H group and branch are recognised in this, as was the first Mark in Australia (Albany).

Captain William John Rae 

Captain William John Rae, 3rd Battalion Imperial Camel Corps, was killed on 27 March 1917 at El Mandar near Gaza, Egypt. Captain Rae was held in high regard in his home town of Albany. On the 21 June 1930, 80 people attended Albert Hall, (Wesley Church), that was held in honour of the granting of the Lamp to Albany Branch.  Padre White explained that  the “Rae" Lamp was dedicated in memory of Captain William John Rae.  The lamp was “kindled into flame” for the first time. 

The Rae Lamp of Maintenance began the ceremony of light, at the commencement of a Toc H meeting. In the dim glow of the lamp, a few simple words recall the memory of those who made the supreme sacrifice in the Great War.  The men are known in Toc H as the 'Elder Brethren'.

The Rae Lamp, followed when Albany's Toc H Branch elevated to Mark I status and relocated to Edward House and within the Chapel, on a old Carpenter's Bench sat 'The Rae' Lamp of Maintenance. The Rae Lamp is still located in Albany today and we hope in honour of the sacrifice of the fallen, that we can hold a ceremony of light, in among the rafters of Edward House.

Captain William John Rae is commemorated on the Albany and Districts Roll of HonourAlbany St John's Anglican Church Great War Honour RollAlbany War Memorial, Avenue of Honour - Mt Clarence, Jerusalem MemorialMidland Officers & Contract Surveyors of the Department of Lands & Surveys WA Honour RollOrange Holy Trinity Anglican Church Honour Board. 

League of Women Helpers

Separate Women’s Branches were established in all Australian States and there have been some fifty of them since the late 1920s. Originally they were called The League of Women’s Helpers (L.W.H) and they operated independently. They did, however have the same aims and objectives as those of the Toc H men’s branch and the focus was on fellowship and service to the community. In 1943, the name was changed to Toc H Women’s Association. Their contribution to Australian society was most significant. 

A few of the community support services provided by both the Toc H and L.W.H in Albany were regular visits to the Hospital, a pillar box for books and magazines for the sick being fully loaded every week and some of the members of Toc H and L.W.H were also in the Albany Repertory Society and produced several comedy and dramatic pieces.  A good sum of money passed into the distress fund of Toc H by this means, local charities being the aim of their service.  

 

During the early 1930s and the Great Depression, a food relief depot was ran, with approximately 150 meals per day was being distributed to the unemployed families of the Albany. Christmas lamps were organised for boys and girls from farming areas and Albany members also attended the graves of several soldiers who died from war effects.

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Thank you to Toc H Australia

AHS would like to acknowledge and thank, Dr. Owens Nichols, Director of Toc H Australia together with Mr. Ray Geise OAM, Chair of Toc H, Northern Region for their dedication and assistance in helping Albany Historical Society with the history of Toc H - Edward House. It was a privilege to view various documents, journals and share in the spirit of Toc H (Albany) Mark I Australia and other Commonwealth branches.  

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