Supriya Ghosh (Editor)

Toynbee Hall

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Town or city  London
Phone  +44 20 7392 2953
Construction started  1884
Opened  1884
Architectural style  Gothic architecture
Architect  Elijah Hoole
Toynbee Hall
Address  Toynbee Hall, The Community Centre,, 52 Old Castle St, London E1 7AJ, United Kingdom
Hours  Open today · 9AM–5PMTuesday9AM–5PMWednesday9AM–5PMThursday9AM–5PMFriday9AM–5PMSaturdayClosedSundayClosedMonday9AM–5PMSuggest an edit
Similar  Hull House, Aldgate East tube station, Rockford University, Bromley by Bow Centre, Whitechapel Gallery

Toynbee hall building a future without poverty

Toynbee Hall is a building in Tower Hamlets, in the East End of London, and is the home to a charity of the same name. It works to bridge the gap between people of all social and financial backgrounds, with a focus on working towards a future without poverty.


It was the first university-affiliated institution of the world-wide Settlement movement; a reformist social agenda that strove to get the rich and poor to live more closely together in an interdependent community. Founded by Canon Samuel Barnett and Henrietta in 1884 on Commercial Street, it was named in memory of their friend and fellow reformer, Oxford historian Arnold Toynbee, who had died the previous year. Built specifically for the charity as a centre for social reform, it remains just as active today.

Mary toynbee hall


The original building was designed by Elijah Hoole in vicarage-gothic style. The building was designated a Grade II listed building in 1973. It was adjacent to the church of St Jude, Whitechapel, which is no longer there, and was on the site of a disused industrial school.

The original structure was built as the first university settlement house of the settlement movement. Students from Oxford and Cambridge University lived there, to undertake social work in the deprived areas of the East End. By 1900 there were over 100 settlements in the United States and across the UK. and in 1911 the leaders of the social settlement movement founded the National Federation of Settlements.

Current activity

Today, Toynbee Hall provides a range of programmes and activities. Broadly broken down into: youth, the elderly, financial inclusion, debt, advice, free legal advice and community engagement.

Each year over 400 volunteers help to deliver the charity’s services.

In 2007 the Toynbee Studios opened in part of the building offering dance and media studios and a theatre.


  • 1884–1906 Samuel Barnett
  • 1906–11 Thomas Edmund Harvey
  • 1919–54 James Joseph Mallon
  • Arthur Eustace Morgan
  • 1964–72 Walter Birmingham
  • 1977–87 Donald Piers Chesworth
  • Chair of Trustees

  • 1884–96 Philip Lyttelton Gell, first chairman
  • Charles Alfred Elliott
  • 1911–25 Alfred Milner
  • 1933–45 Cosmo Lang
  • 1966 Lord Blakenham
  • 1982–5 John Profumo
  • 1985–90 Sir Harold Atcherley
  • 1990–2002 Roger Harrison
  • 2002–2009 Christopher Coombe
  • 2009–2015 Ben Rowland
  • 2015– Julian Corner
  • Notable associated people

  • Toynbee residents included RH Tawney and Clement Attlee
  • William Beveridge began his career by working as Sub-Warden at Toynbee Hall from 1903 to 1905
  • Visitors to Toynbee Hall included Lenin and Guglielmo Marconi
  • Lionel Ellis (1885–1970), the military historian, was an Associate Warden of Toynbee Hall after the Second World War. Between the two World Wars, he had been General Secretary of the National Council of Social Service and then Secretary of the National Fitness Council.
  • John Profumo dedicated much of his time to the Hall from the 1960s onwards after the Profumo Affair forced him out of politics
  • Jane Addams visited Toynbee Hall, which inspired her establishment of Hull House in Chicago
  • Sir Nicolas Bratza, was a volunteer at Toynbee Hall's Free Legal Advice Centre in the 1970s. He went on to become the President of the European Court of Human Rights from November 2011 to October 2012. In 2014, Sir Nicolas became an Ambassador for Toynbee Hall
  • Associated organisations

  • Charles Robert Ashbee created his Guild of Handicraft whilst a resident at Toynbee Hall in the late 1880s
  • The Whitechapel Art Gallery (founded 1901) grew out of annual free art exhibitions organised by Henrietta Barnett
  • The Workers Educational Association (WEA) was founded here in 1903
  • Child Poverty Action Group was founded at a meeting held at Toynbee Hall in 1965
  • Stepney Children's Fund
  • References

    Toynbee Hall Wikipedia

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