Settlement Houses

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London, Toynbee Hall, Commercial Street

The economic and social crises in East London in the 1860s had an important effect on the activities of philanthropists and led to the establishment of one of the most enduring institutions in East London: the Settlement House.
Toynbee Hall, Commercial Street, was founded by Canon Samuel Barnett, vicar of St Jude's Whitechapel in memory of Arnold Toynbee, a young Oxford Historian who pioneered social work in East London. The original building of 1884-5 by Elijah Hoole survives only in part. It is set well back from the street behind gardens; rather like an ElizabethanGlossary Term manor house with some agreeable, if undistinguished, additions in recent decades. Tudor-styleGlossary Term four bayGlossary Term red-brick facade with burnt end diapering to the brickwork, stone dressingsGlossary Term, large mullioned windows with diamond leaded panes under a pair of steep kneelered gables and robust chimney stacks.

Before war damage, the Hall was set around a narrow quadrangle of secluded collegiateGlossary Term character, screened by warehouses to the street and entered through an arched opening at the baseGlossary Term of a tall gatehouse with mullionGlossary Term windows and orielGlossary Term window to the first floor. In the upper storey, rooms for residential workers, above a drawing room, meeting hall and a dining room decoratedGlossary Term by C.R Ashbee's art students. Of this only gilded plaster roundels survive, embellished with a motif of a tree formed from a stylised "T". Later additions are mixed but the resolutely modernist Toynbee Studios, of 1939 by Alister G. MacDonald, for theatre, music school and juvenile court, makes an unsentimental contrast to Hoole's neo-TudorGlossary Term hall and points at the changing emphasis from manorial residence to a 20th century community centre.

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London, Oxford House, Derbyshire Street

Oxford House in Derbyshire Street, Bethnal Green (1891-4 by Sir Arthur Blomfield shares the architectural language of Toynbee Hall in its reference to the domestic style of the 16th and early 17th centuries. Founded, also in 1884, by the staff and students of Keble and New Colleges, Oxford and with a more specifically Anglican religious focus to its work. Along with reading rooms, meeting hall and bedrooms for the resident workers, Blomfield also designed a small chapel in the roof, with neo-Jacobean furnishings, that has rcently been restored. Both settlements exemplify the belief that such institutions were essential to re-establishing the social relations between the classes which were perceived to have vanished with the onset of industrialisation and to have been eroded by impersonal charity.

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London, University House, Victoria Park Square

Contact between the middle class university students and the working class inhabitants of the East End districts was seen as an essential part of the Settlements work. However, existing clubs and societies were also promoted by the Settlements to further their work. University House was established in 1886 by Oxford House to have an entirely working class membership, partly as an effort to discourage working men from engaging in radical or left-wing political societies. It was housed in a late 17th century terrace in Victoria Park Square. Extensions in 1889 added a chapel to the face of the building.

St Margaret's House, the women's settlement attached to Oxford House, was established in a row of 1750s houses in Old Ford Road, Bethnal Green. Extensions were made to provide a wing of rooms for resident workers (their fittings still preserved)and a large assembly hall. As at Oxford House and University House, the chapel was a key element, designed by Paul Waterhouse, 1904, with a roodGlossary Term screenGlossary Term and panels of stained glass by Powell's and Heaton, Butler and Bayne. It is a small but delightful space.

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London, St Margaret's House, Old Ford Road



Moulded foot of a column or pilaster. An Attic base is the form used on an Ionic column, with two large convex rings joined by a spreading convex moulding.


Division of an elevation or interior space as defined by regular vertical features such as arches, columns, windows etc.


(of church seating): Arranged in confronted rows facing north and south, rather than towards the altar; so called after the chapels of the older university colleges.


A distinctive phase of English Gothic which developed at the end of the 13th century and continued into the later 14th; sometimes abbreviated to Dec. Named from its elaborate window tracery, which abandoned the simple circular forms of Geometric in favour of more varied patterns based on segments of circles. Dec tracery makes much use of ogee or reversed curves, which were combined in the 14th century to produce reticulated and flowing tracery composed of trefoils, quatrefoils and dagger shapes. Similar inventiveness is seen in the patterns produced by the lierne and tierceron vaults of the period, in the three-dimensional handling of wall surfaces broken up by canopy work and sculpture and in imaginative spatial planning making use of diagonal axes.


The stone or brickwork worked to a finished face about an angle, opening, or other feature.


The English architecture of the later 16th century, marked by a decorative use of Renaissance ornament and a preference for symmetrical fa


The style of early 17th-century England, called after James I (reigned 1603-25), but common into the middle decades. Not always distinguishable from the preceding Elizabethan manner, with which it shares a fondness for densely applied classical ornament and symmetrical gabled façades.


Vertical member between window lights.


A bay window which rests on corbels or brackets and starts above ground level.


Crucifix flanked by the Virgin and St John, usually over the entry into the chancel, set on a beam (rood beam) or painted on the wall. The rood screen below often had a walkway along the top, reached by a rood stair in the side wall.


In a medieval church, usually set at the entry to the chancel. A parclose screen separates a chapel from the rest of the church. A rood screen was placed below a representation of the Crucifixion (called a rood).


Strictly, the architecture of the English Tudor dynasty (1485-1603), but used more often for late Gothic secular buildings especially of the first half of the 16th century. These use a simplified version of Perpendicular, characterised by straight-headed mullioned windows with arched lights, and by rooflines with steep gables and tall chimneys, often asymmetrically placed.