Toynbee Hall
Toynbee Hall, The Community Centre,, 52 Old Castle St, London E1 7AJ, United Kingdom

Restoration of the Ashbee Hall crests & plasterwork

Restoration of the Ashbee Hall crests & plasterwork

Toynbee Hall was founded by social reformer Samuel Barnett in 1884 as the first nondenominational university settlement. It was intended that privileged students could live alongside, learn about and contribute to the welfare of the poor. The volunteers, under Barnett's direction, helped conduct research for Charles Booth's survey and poverty map, established services such as the 'Poor Man's Lawyer', the forerunner to legal advice clinics, and held classes and meetings on a wide range of subjects. Toynbee Hall's dining room (now Ashbee Hall) was decorated in 1887-88 under the direction of Cambridge graduate Charles Robert Ashbee, who was to become a leading designer in the Arts & Crafts movement. Ashbee believed that workers could be reinvigorated through finding "satisfying work in industrial conditions" and founded the Guild and School of Handicraft to teach industrial workmen artisan skills. The Oxbridge college crests around the dining room wall represent the colleges from which the first volunteers were drawn. Toynbee Hall works today to the same mission, providing free advice and support to over 14,000 beneficiaries. The restoration work of the crests and plasterwork will preserve one of two remaining Victorian rooms and will again be used for community programmes.