Toynbee Hall

Toynbee Hall

In 1884 an article by Samuel Augustus Barnett in the Nineteenth Century Magazine he suggested the idea of university settlements. The idea was to create a place where students from Oxford University and Cambridge University could work among, and improve the lives of the poor during their holidays. According to Barnett, the role of the students was "to learn as much as to teach; to receive as much to give". This article resulted in the formation of the University Settlements Association.

Later that year Barnett and his wife, Henrietta Barnett, established Toynbee Hall, Britain's first university settlement. It was named after their friend and social reformer, Arnold Toynbee, who had died when he was only thirty years old. Most residents held down jobs in the City, or were doing vocational training, and so gave up their weekends and evenings to do relief work. This work ranged from visiting the poor and providing free legal aid to running clubs for boys and holding University Extension lectures and debates; the work was not just about helping people practically, it was also about giving them the kinds of things that people in richer areas took for granted, such as the opportunity to continue their education past the school leaving age. As Seth Koven has pointed out: "Settlements, as first envisioned by the Barnetts, were residential colonies of university men in the slums intended to serve both as centres of education, recreation, and community life for the local poor and as outposts for social work, social scientific investigation, and cross-class friendships between élites and their poor neighbours."

Toynbee Hall served as a base for Charles Booth and his group of researchers working on the Life and Labour of the People in London. Other individuals who worked at Toynbee Hall include Richard Tawney, Clement Attlee, Alfred Milner, William Beveridge, Beatrice Webb and Robert Morant. Other visitors included Guglielmo Marconi who held one of his earliest experiments in radio there, and Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympic Games, was so impressed by the mixing and working together of so many people from different nations that it inspired him to establish the games. Georges Clemenceau visited Toynbee Hall in 1884 and claimed that Barnett was one of the "three really great men" he had met in England.

Charles Robert Ashbee, one of the people involved in the Arts and Crafts Movement, was a resident in 1888, as was Hubert Llewellyn-Smith, who went on to run New Survey of London Life and Labour for the London School of Economics in the 1930s. The Whitechapel Gallery had its roots in the art exhibitions held originally in the St. Jude's school rooms. These exhibitions were intended to bring the art of major galleries to the people of the East End. The 1926 General Strike came to an end at Toynbee Hall - the employers and the union leaders met there to discuss their terms.

In 1888 Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr visited Toynbee Hall and were so impressed with what they saw that the returned to the United States and established a similar project, Hull House, in Chicago. The Settlement Movement grew rapidly both in Britain, the United States and the rest of the world. The settlements and social action centres work together through the International Federation of Settlements.

Toynbee Hall continues to work today towards solving social problems - developing practical but innovative solutions and then exporting them to wider society. Many volunteers work at Toynbee Hall, including ones who are residents. The residents, like those in the nineteenth century, work during the day or study for postgraduate degrees or to train for careers in social work or the legal profession, and give up their spare time to work with elderly people, disadvantaged children and teenagers, the legal advice centre, and many others. More than ever society needs new solutions for new social problems and, as we enter the early stages of the 21st century, Toynbee Hall will continue to develop new programmes and blaze new trails.

It is a community for University men who live there, have their recreation and clubs and society all among the poor people, yet in the same style they would live in their own circle. It is so free from "professional doing good", so unaffectedly sincere and so productive of good results in its classes and libraries so that it seems perfectly ideal.

Oxford was at that time predominately Conservative though there was a strong Liberal group, notably at Ballioli, which counted among its undergraduates such men as R. H. Tawney and William Temple, the future Archbishop, whose influence on socialist thought was in later years to be so great. Socialism was hardly spoken of, although Sidney Ball at St. John's and A.J. Carlyle, at University College, kept the light burning.

I was at this time a Conservative, but I did not take any active part in politics. I never belonged to any political club. Some of my friends were interested in the University Settlements - Oxford House and Toynbee Hall.

Settlement movement

The settlement movement was a reformist social movement that began in the 1880s and peaked around the 1920s in England and the United States. Its goal was to bring the rich and the poor of society together in both physical proximity and social interconnectedness. Its main object was the establishment of "settlement houses" in poor urban areas, in which volunteer middle-class "settlement workers" would live, hoping to share knowledge and culture with, and alleviate the poverty of, their low-income neighbors. The settlement houses provided services such as daycare, education, and healthcare to improve the lives of the poor in these areas. [1]

Toynbee Hall - History

Arnold Toynbee (1852-1881) died before the age of thirty but nevertheless in his short life as a scholar his thinking did much to change how education could be developed through work in the poorer parts of Britain’s cities. He lectured in economic history at Oxford University where he was very critical of the effects of the industrial revolution which he saw emerging all around him. Toynbee observed that: “The effects of the industrial revolution prove that free competition may produce wealth without producing well-being". Large-scale poverty was becoming concentrated in urban slums and he could not remain indifferent to its consequences. He therefore urged his students to show some real engagement in working with the growing population of poor people.
Using the ideas of Edward Denison (1840-1970), Toynbee proposed schemes for ‘university extension’, a form of outreach and supplementary learning by which students working in the most deprived communities would apply and ‘extend’ their course material through voluntary work. Students would become more aware of daily living conditions and this confrontation with the harsh reality of social inequality would not only sharpen their sense of social responsibility, but also bridge class divisions. This idea was later labelled Practical Socialism (1888) by Toynbee’s ideological ally, the Anglican priest Samuel Barnett. The model received plenty of support in the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge, from where it gained international recognition.

After Toynbee’s death, Barnett continued to promote the concept of university extension through the establishment of university settlements. These provided accommodation so that students would not only work to enhance the living conditions of the poor, they could also live among them for at least a year. The aim was that this arrangement would strengthen the links between scholars and the residents of urban slums, and achieve better results in terms of social improvement and mutual learning. In 1884 Toynbee Hall opened in East London. Graduate students came to live on the premises, while often working elsewhere. They contributed to local life by studying the lives of their working class neighbours and organising activities that contributed to community building, (informal) education and social solidarity. Students based in the settlements worked to improve the system of benefits for the poor, secure better pension rights and generally enhance living conditions. Among them was the philanthropist Charles Booth, for whom Toynbee Hall served as a base while he worked on Life and Labour of the People in London (1889). This study mapped poverty in London at the end of the 19th century and influenced both social research and the fight against poverty for decades afterwards.

Toynbee Hall quickly became an inspiring example of community development in both the US and Europe. Jane Addams visited Toynbee Hall in 1888 and became so enthusiastic that she exported the idea to North America.

At the beginning of the 20th century, one of the people to live and work at Toynbee Hall for a short period of time was William Beveridge and he was followed by a number of students who went on to become prominent social theorists and politicians.

Arnold Toynbee also happens to be an ancestor of Polly Toynbee, currently a leading journalist often writing on social issues in The Guardian. Her book Hard work (2003) was based on direct experience of living on poverty wages and made an impressive contribution to describing the difficulties faced every day by people at the bottom of the social ladder, portraying the real life and (in)humanity behind statistics.

This text was written by Jan Steyaert, based on the Dutch version by Wim Verzelen
Date of first publication: 12-2010
Date of latest revision: 04-2013

Toynbee Hall, a registered charity, is based in its original home at 28 Commercial Street, Whitechapel, London, in a listed Arts and Crafts inspired building designed by Elijah Hoole, built on the site of an old Industrial Boys School. It led the International Settlement Movement and developed from a collaboration between Oxbridge students, lecturers, prominent Victorian philanthropists and the Reverend Samuel and his wife Henrietta Barnett.

Toynbee Hall, 1955

Considered the first University Settlement of East London, residential volunteers moved into the present site just before Christmas in 1884. Arnold Toynbee, lecturer and political historian, had worked hard to define the concept and bring about the building, but unfortunately died before it was realised, hence, at Henrietta Barnett&rsquos instigation, its name.

Toynbee Hall&rsquos stated aims as laid out in the first Annual Report are expressed as the 'alleviation of poverty via education, research and inclusive activity' promoting a 'non-denominational', and an 'A' political approach, uniting concerned individuals from 'all classes' of society. Over the last 130 years Toynbee Hall has had a great deal of social and political influence. A succession of Wardens, now known as Chief Executives, have led the organisation responding to the needs of both the immediate and wider communities, including internationally.

In pursuing its educational aims, Toynbee Hall held a variety of adult classes for local people. Richard Tawney a residential volunteer, worked with Albert Mansbridge to establish the Workers Education Association in the 1920's. Charles Booth, based in a small 'shed' at Toynbee Hall and supported by Samuel Barnett and Toynbee Hall residential volunteers, researched his 'Poverty Maps' there, detailing the social conditions of the late nineteenth century. Other notable residential volunteers, including Clement Attlee and William Beveridge, helped to bring about the National Insurance Act, the National Health Service and the huge nationalisation program of the post Second World War Labour Government. Over the years research based at Toynbee Hall has led to the increased professionalisation of teachers and social workers and the development of the Juvenile Courts system. Long-time Warden James Mallon was involved in ground-breaking research on the cost of living.

Always concerned with cultural activities, the Trustees of Toynbee Hall were initially surrounded by members of the Arts and Crafts movement including William Morris and supported residential volunteer Charles Ashbee's handicraft workshops. As an extension to the exhibitions of work held in the halls by artists like Edward Burne-Jones, the Whitechapel Gallery was begun by Samuel Barnett.

In the first wave of Citizens Advice Bureaus in 1939, Toynbee Hall had the largest. Since then Toynbee Hall has turned its attention from the support of the local Jewish community, many of whom had moved away, to the Bangladeshi community via its Asian studies department promoting literacy, money management, support for older Bengali people and women&rsquos classes.

Currently, Toynbee Hall provides a continuance of the Free Legal Advice service set up in the 1880's, debt advice and money management. There are also frontline mentoring services for young people building on the legacy of the many activities promoting the welfare of young people that Toynbee Hall had developed, from the Children&rsquos Country Holiday Fund to boys&rsquo clubs, Guides, Scouts and pre-school playgroups. The current Wellbeing Centre provides a continuance of activities and a lunch club for older people.

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Office address:
Toynbee Hall
The Community Centre
52 Old Castle Street
E1 7AJ

Registered address:
Toynbee Hall
28 Commercial Street
E1 6LS

Registered Charity No. 211850. A company limited by guarantee. Registered Office as shown.

Registered Number. 20080 England

Copyright © Toynbee Hall. All rights reserved.

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Jane Addams and Hull House

Jane Addams was a suffragist, social worker, and peacemaker. Addams founded the Hull House in 1889 and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931.

The latter part of the nineteenth century was a time of great industrialization and social inequity in Chicago and the rest of the United States. Rich industrialists were profiting on the cheap labor of immigrants. Medical care and educational benefits were not available for the poor. Cultural events consisted of a night in the local saloon drinking and brawling. Sanitation was mandated in the city, but not enforced. Into this dismal cesspool of Chicago came Jane Addams.

Toynbee Hall

Jane Addams was a wealthy woman raised in a Quaker household. Her mother died early in Addams’s life and her father was left with the task of raising the children. A strongly religious humanitarian, he greatly influenced Addam’s life. Attending college at Rockford University further imbued Addams with a liberal social education. After school she wandered around Europe, perhaps searching for a purpose in her life. Then she heard about Toynbee Hall. During a visit to Oxford she melded the moral implications of Toynbee Hall with the teaching of Abraham Lincoln and came away with a purpose for herself.

Jane Addams Founds Hull House

Addams made the decision that she would not be a rich matron who did part time work for the needy. Instead she would live and work in the community she hoped to serve. Addams created Hull House in 1889 in Chicago and based its premise on the following principles: neighbors helping neighbors, fundamental dignity of all people, and access to opportunity.

Opportunity, to Addams, meant many things. She believed education gave the poor the ability to improve themselves and she thought that cultural education was equally as important as learning the language or arithmetic. The women of Hull House provided theater to the residents and neighbors at a time when most could not afford to go downtown and pay to see a play. Paintings were exhibited at Hull House for all to see.

Chicago’s Crooked Politicians and Sanitation

The members of Hull House got involved with the local politicians over the lack of sanitation in the district. Many a crooked Alderman met his match with Jane Addams. Hull House was also the first institution to have public baths. Concern for the welfare of children brought the members of Hull House into the role of juvenile protectors and they helped push through child labor laws. Hull House also became the site of the first public playground for children.

Jane Addams was not content to sit idly in Hull House. Besides assisting the local residents, she became a political activist. There does not seem to be any bit of social activism that Addams was not involved in. Addams was a viable part of the progressive movement at the turn of the century. She found herself involved in civil rights, women’s suffrage, international peace, court reform, juvenile justice, public health, public housing, civil watchdog, and urban planning. She did not play a minor role in any of these activities. She in fact, instigated most of the reform movements in Chicago and ultimately the nation.

Addams Awarded Nobel Peace Prize

Jane took her ideals with her when she helped found the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. She was president of the league from 1919 until her death in 1935. Her work for international peace landed her a Nobel Peace Prize in 1931.

The members of Hull House contributed much to the present system of sociological theory and social work in the United States. Most of the reforms initiated by Adams and her partners have become institutionalized today. Even so, the problems of today seem to mirror the problems at the turn of the nineteenth century. The United States has a large population of immigrants, ghettos still exist, corrupt politicians still exist, and the poor still exist.

If there is a lasting legacy for Jane Addams and the members of Hull House, it must be that self-sacrifice and good intentions can influence the rich and help the underprivileged. Today the Hull House organization helps thousands of people and Jane Addams’ spirit lives on.

Toynbee Hall : The First Hundred Years

First published in 1984, Toynbee Hall, The First Hundred Years is not just a centenary study, but a personal contribution to the continuing history of Toynbee Hall, which is the Universities' settlement in East London, and an institution that has inspired respect and affection. Its pioneering role as a residential community living and working in the heart of one of London's most deprived areas has been maintained. Called a 'social workshop' by its late chairman John Profumo, Toynbee Hall promotes ventures such as Free Legal Advice, the Workers Educational Association, and the Whitechapel Art Gallery. The book looks at the social changes that have taken place over the 100 years since Toynbee Hall was founded in 1884, but also notes curious parallels, with persistent patterns of poverty, deprivation, squalor and racial separation which characterise the area. Questions about the facts and perceptions of poverty, the nature of community, the visual as well as the social environment, and the roles of voluntary, local and national statutory policy still require answers.

Toynbee was born in Syria, the son of the physician Joseph Toynbee, a pioneering otolaryngologist. His sister was the bacteriologist Grace Frankland. [2]

Toynbee was the uncle, via his brother Harry Valpy Toynbee, of universal historian Arnold Joseph Toynbee (1889–1975). The two are often confused for each other due to the similarity of their names.

Toynbee attended public schools in Blackheath and Woolwich. In 1873 he began to study political economy at Oxford University, first at Pembroke College and from 1875 at Balliol College, where he went on to teach after his graduation in 1878. He was deeply influenced by John Ruskin while at Oxford. W.G. Collingwood states that he was one of Ruskin's warmest admirers and ablest pupils. He further notes that the philanthropic work of Toynbee truly illustrated the teaching of one of Ruskin's greatest books Unto This Last. [3] His lectures on the history of the Industrial Revolution in 18th- and 19th-century Britain proved widely influential in fact, Toynbee coined, [4] or at least effectively popularised, the term "Industrial Revolution" in the Anglophone world—in Germany and elsewhere it had been brought into circulation earlier by Friedrich Engels, also under the impression of the industrial changes in Britain.

He married Charlotte Atwood, 12 years his senior and a cousin of Harold Davidson, the famous Rector of Stiffkey.

Toynbee died in 1883, at age 30. His health had rapidly deteriorated, probably due to exhaustion by excessive work . [ citation needed ] Frederick Rogers notes that the publication of Henry George's Progress and Poverty may be said to have brought about Toynbee's death: [5]

As [Toynbee] saw the book, it was full of economic heresies, and he resolved to answer them. Of weak physique, but full of a passionate spiritual enthusiasm, he gave two lectures at St. Andrew's Hall, Oxford Street, against the book and the effort ended his career. He died for truth as he knew it, and those who knew him felt that his death was a national loss.

Toynbee genealogy Edit

The Toynbees have been prominent in British intellectual society for several generations (this diagram is not a comprehensive Toynbee family tree):

Joseph Toynbee
Pioneering otolaryngologist
Harriet Holmes
Arnold Toynbee
Economic historian
Harry Valpy Toynbee Gilbert Murray
Classicist and public intellectual
Lady Mary Howard
Arnold J. Toynbee
Universal historian
Rosalind Murray
Antony Harry Toynbee
Philip Toynbee
Writer and journalist
Anne Powell Lawrence Toynbee
Josephine Toynbee Polly Toynbee
Journalist and atheist activist
b. 1946

According to Toynbee, applying the historical method in economics would reveal how supposedly universal economic laws were, in fact, relative. For example, he argued that, despite commonly held beliefs, free trade was not generally advantageous in itself, but only under certain circumstances, which should not be considered absolute. Toynbee considered few laws universally true, such as the law of diminishing returns. Therefore, there were no universal rules as to how strongly the state should interfere in the marketplace all depended on the situation and varying degrees of regulation could be appropriate.

Another idea Toynbee dismissed was that free competition was universally beneficial to economic and societal progress, especially as reflected in its apotheosis in Social Darwinism, which promoted laissez-faire capitalism. Toynbee did not equate "a struggle for mere existence and a struggle for a particular kind of existence". From the very beginning of history, he argued, all human civilisation was essentially designed to "interfere with this brute struggle. We intend to modify the violence of the fight, and to prevent the weak being trampled under foot." [6] Although economic competition does have its advantages, being the driving force behind technical progress, these were "gained at the expense of an enormous waste of human life and labour, which might be avoided by regulation". Toynbee suggested a differentiation between competition in production on the one hand, and competition in the distribution of goods on the other:

. the struggle of men to outvie one another in production is beneficial to the community their struggle over the division of the joint produce is not. The stronger side will dictate its own terms and as a matter of fact, in the early days of competition, the capitalists used all their power to oppress the labourers, and drove down wages to starvation point. This kind of competition has to be checked there is no historical instance of its having lasted long without being modified either by combination or legislation, or both. In England both remedies are in operation, the former through Trades Unions, the latter through factory legislation. [7]

In itself, a market based on competition was neither good nor bad, but like "a stream whose strength and direction have to be observed, that embankments may be thrown up within which it may do its work harmlessly and beneficially". However, in the early phase of industrial capitalism "it came to be believed in as a gospel, . from which it was regarded as little long of immoral to depart".

For Toynbee, early industrial capitalism and the situation of the working class in it was not just a subject of ivory-tower studies he was actively involved in improving the living conditions of the labourer. He read for workers in large industrial centres and encouraged the creation of trade unions and co-operatives. A focal point of his commitment was the slum of Whitechapel, in East London, where he helped to establish public libraries for the working-class population. Toynbee also encouraged his students to offer free courses for working-class audiences in their own neighbourhoods.

Inspired by his ideas, Samuel Augustus Barnett and Henrietta Barnett founded the first university settlement in 1884, shortly after Toynbee's death it was named Toynbee Hall in his honour. A centre for social reform, Toynbee Hall was on Commercial Street, Whitechapel. It remains active today. The concept was to bring upper and middle class students into lower-class neighbourhoods, not only to provide education and social aid, but to actually live and work together with their inhabitants. This soon inspired a worldwide movement of university settlements. The idea was to help members of the future elite understand the problems of British society this was especially important at a time when class divisions were much stronger, social mobility was minimal, and the living conditions of the poor were completely unknown to many members of the upper class. Early chairs of trustees included Philip Lyttelton Gell and Lord Alfred Milner. Toynbee Hall attracted many students, especially from Oxford's Wadham College and Balliol College, where Toynbee had taught.

In 1916, the Arnold Toynbee House in New York was founded by a group of young adults who were part of the Stevenson Club at Madison House and with the help of philanthropist Rose Gruening. Eight years later, the settlement house was renamed Grand Street Settlement.

Toynbee is widely accepted as the historian who ushered the expression "the industrial revolution" into the English language. Although French and German commentators had used this term in the early nineteenth century, English use had been rare and inconsistent until the posthumous publication of Toynbee's Lectures on the Industrial Revolution in England. [8]

According to Toynbee, "the essence of the Industrial Revolution" was "the substitution of competition for the medieval regulations which had previously controlled the production and distribution of wealth". Among its components were an "agrarian revolution" that produced "the alienation between farmer and labourer" and in the manufacturing world, the appearance of a "new class of great capitalist employers". "The old relations between masters and men disappeared, and a 'cash nexus' was substituted for the human tie." Summing up his interpretation, Toynbee wrote, "the Wealth of Nations and the steam-engine. destroyed the old world and built a new one." For Toynbee, this coupling seemed self-evident. Steam-powered factories, the Wealth of Nations, competition, the cash-nexus and the rise of pauperism formed part of a single phenomenon.

In response to this bleak scenario, Toynbee proposed a test for when the state should become involved in the regulation of an economic or social sphere of society to even the balance between industry and labour. He proposed the "Radical Creed", which,

as I understand it, is this: We have not abandoned our old belief in liberty, justice, and Self-help, but we say that under certain conditions the people cannot help themselves, and that then they should be helped by the State representing directly the whole people. In giving this State help, we make three conditions: first, the matter must be one of primary social importance next, it must be proved to be practicable thirdly, the State interference must not diminish self-reliance. Even if the chance should arise of removing a great social evil, nothing must be done to weaken those habits of individual self-reliance and voluntary association which have built up the greatness of the English people. [9]

Samuel Augustus Barnett was born in Bristol, the elder son of Francis Augustus Barnett, an iron manufacturer. After a private education by tutors he entered Wadham College, Oxford, in 1862, leaving in 1866, whereafter he visited the United States. In the following year he was ordained as a deacon and became the curate of St Mary's, Bryanston Square before being ordained as a priest in 1868. [2]

In 1873, he married Henrietta Octavia Weston Rowland (1851–1936), heiress, social reformer and author, later Dame Henrietta Barnett, DBE, [3] who had been a co-worker of Octavia Hill. Both were social reformers and philanthropists with broad cultural interests. Later that year, the Barnetts moved to the impoverished Whitechapel parish of St. Jude's intent on improving social conditions in one of London's worst slums. [2]

The East End area was notorious for its squalor and overcrowded housing conditions, as well as prostitution and other criminal activities. The Barnetts worked hard for the poor of their parish—opening evening schools for adults, providing them with music and entertainment, and serving on the local board of guardians and on the managing committees of schools. Barnett discouraged outdoor relief believing it fostered the pauperisation of the neighbourhood. At the same time, the Barnetts helped improve conditions of indoor relief, and co-ordinate the various charities by co-operation with the Charity Organization Society and the parish board of guardians. [4]

In 1875 Balliol historian Arnold Toynbee paid the first of many visits to Whitechapel. In 1877, Barnett, who kept in constant touch with Oxford, formed a small committee, over which he presided, to consider the organisation of university extension in London. His chief assistants were Leonard Montefiore, a young Oxford man, and Frederick Rogers, a member of the Vellum (Account Book) Binders' Trade Society.

The committee received influential support, and in October four courses of lectures, one by Dr Samuel Rawson Gardiner on English history, were given in Whitechapel. The Barnetts were associated with the foundation of the East End Dwellings Company, which built many model dwellings in the East End from 1888, with the establishment of the Children's Country Holiday Fund (1884) and the annual loan exhibitions of fine art at the Whitechapel gallery. [5]

In 1884 an article by Henrietta Barnett in Nineteenth Century discussed the question of university settlements – places where richer students could live alongside, learn about and contribute to the welfare of much poorer people – in Barnett's words: 'to learn as much as to teach to receive as much to give'. This resulted in the formation of the University Settlements Association. Toynbee Hall, named after the recently deceased historian Arnold Toynbee, was built shortly afterwards, and Barnett became its first Warden. [6] In 1888 American reformer Jane Addams visited the settlement, and was inspired to create similar facilities in the United States—the first Hull House opening in Chicago a year later. [2]

Barnett was a select preacher at Oxford (1895–97), and at Cambridge in 1900. In 1893 he received a canonry in Bristol Cathedral, but retained his wardenship of Toynbee Hall, while relinquishing the living of St. Jude's. In June 1906 he was given a canonry at Westminster, and when in December he resigned the wardenship of Toynbee Hall the position of president was created so that he might retain his home there. [2]

The Barnetts also became known for their involvement in the Hampstead Garden Suburb. [7] This arose after the activist couple acquired a weekend home at Spaniard's End in the Hampstead area of north-west London. [8] The Barnetts worked to protect part of nearby Hampstead Heath from development by Eton College, [9] as well as beginning in 1904 established trusts which bought 243 acres of land along the newly opened Northern line extension to Golders Green. Henrietta Barnett broke ground for the development on her 56th birthday, and while it never was completed to the plan of architects Raymond Unwin and Sir Edwin Lutyens, it achieved worldwide acclaim. [10]

In 1906 Barnett moved from Canon of Bristol Cathedral to Canon of Westminster Abbey. [11] At the coronation of King George V in 1911, Barnett's role was to carry the royal orb. [12]

In 1913 he was elevated to Sub-Dean. His health had begun to fail, suffering several heart attacks prior to the coronation and one after. In his final days he suffered greatly from insomnia. A memorial to his memory lies on the north aisle of the Choir. [13]

Samuel Barnett died in 1913 at 69 Kings Esplanade in Hove, [14] and is buried with his wife in the churchyard at St Helen's Church, Hangleton, East Sussex. [15]

As a memorial, his friend Sir Alfred Yarrow dedicated a charitable building in Hampstead Garden Suburb in his name in 1916: the Barnett Homestead. [16] A Greater London Council blue plaque unveiled in 1983 on Heath End House on Spaniards Road, Hampstead commemorates Barnett and his wife. In 1914, Henrietta Barnett founded Barnett House at Oxford in his memory, and it became the Department of Social Policy and Intervention, University of Oxford. [17] There is a Samuel Barnett Close in Filwood Park, Bristol.

The Barnetts jointly wrote Practicable Socialism (1888 2nd ed. 1894). [18]

Toynbee Hall - History

he study of Charles Robert Ashbee (1863-1942) reveals a striking challenge in distinguishing Ashbee's work and thoughts from that of the British Arts and Crafts movement as a whole. C.R. Ashbee's design work influenced the movement to such an extent that many of his ideas became synonymous with the rhetoric of the Arts and Crafts ideology. The social and moral motivations for the Arts and Crafts movement found their origins in the realization that industrial and machine-age progress did not necessarily see itself accompanied by a corresponding improvement in the quality of human life. This fear, embodied in the terrifying conditions of factory life, gave birth to an eternal campaign for social, industrial, moral, and aesthetic reform.

In the 1880s Charles Robert Ashbee was a relatively recent recruit to the cause of architecture, socialism and the crafts. He had just emerged from a conventional upper-middle-class education at Wellington and King's College, Cambridge, where he read Ruskin. In 1886 he began training to be an architect under G.F. Bodley while living at London's Toynbee Hall, the university settlement house meant to bring undergraduates into contact with the people of East End. Ashbee joined Toynbee as the only architect in resident. In the early 1880s Ashbee went to hear his friend, the socialist writer Edward Carpenter, speak to the Hammersmith Branch of the Socialist League at Morris's house. When he met Morris, Ashbee found himself won over by the idealism of his new colleagues. Ashbee spent the first fifteen years of his career as a designer in the East End, establishing the Essex House Press as well as the Guild and School of Handicraft founded by Ashbee in 1888. Ashbee began at Toynbee by organizing evening classes where men and boys from the slums could study the writing of John Ruskin. Encouraged by the success of his Ruskin classes, he also began to teach drawing and decoration. By way of these classes, which stimulated the students to undertake practical work and eventually became the foundation of the Guild and School of Handicraft, Ashbee gained an awareness of the realities of life for the working man. Members of the Toynbee Hall classes formed the core of his Guild, which began with four members and a working capital of only 50 pounds. Ashbee founded the Guild with the revolutionary idea that training in art and design could be conducted alongside actual production, a dramatic departure from contemporary practice. He sought to restore lost traditions associated with pre-industrial production and the bonds of comradeship that he thought humanized the workshop, and urged that silversmiths, craftsmen, and designers should work together.

The Guild's chief production and best known crafts became metalwork, silverware, and furniture. Ashbee began initial experiments with precious metals, such as a salt cellar with onyx bowl from about 1893, composed with spheres, whirling patterns, and openwork pedestal support. The guild began silverware in 1893 that marked a momentous departure from the contemporary preference for flawless finish and highly ornamented, machine-produced wares. In contrast, the Guild's metalwork featured hammer-texture finish, completed with a small, round planishing hammer, which communicated human endeavor and a personal touch. The Guild's new techniques included punched and cast beading, saw-piercing, and notable innovations such as the use of applied semi-precious cabochons, colored enamels, and extruded wire for supports, handles, and finials. Occasionally Ashbee incorporated found objects into some of his designs, such as Turkish cigarette mouthpieces of carved ivory used as knife and fork handles.

Ashbee's work incorporated simple and energetic forms that often recall medieval silverwork and naturalistic motifs characteristic of Art Nouveau. He designed simple dishes and salvers, adorned with marks of the hammer, as well as more elaborate incorporations of wirework, semi-precious stones and enamel. Some of his favorite design motifs included the peacock, the ship, sun, and tree of life. He produced a range of silverware for private as well as ecclesiastical clients, but each piece was individually conceived and executed, with the result that many were deemed works of art in their own right and often met with the approval of critics. By the last decade of the nineteenth century, Ashbee had achieved national and international fame. He exhibited in most of the Arts and Crafts Exhibitions, and often saw his work, even the family house Magpie and Stump, which he built in Cheyne Walk, London in 1895, discussed and illustrated in journals and magazines. In 1896, Ashbee completed the first of several visits to America, where he met many American designers and Architects, such as Elbert Hubbard, Charles Sumner Greene, and Frank Lloyd Wright, to whom some art historians contribute Ashbee's later change in ideology.

The Guild flourished and expanded, and in 1890, while simultaneously opening retail premises off Bond Street, it moved to Essex House, a stately mansion in Mile End. During these early years, Ashbee and his guildsmen were self-taught, learning by trial and error. Ashbee believed in mastering a craft through development of an individualistic style, which he believed should emerge from team work and shared experience. However, Ashbee still conceived of a haven from the trials of the city in a rural setting where he hoped to find a simpler life. In the summer of 1902, the Guild, comprised of some 150 men, women, and children, relocated to the medieval town of Chipping Campden, probably due to more idealistic than practical motives.

Ashbee saw the move as an opportunity to renew his educational efforts and two years later he had established the Campden School of Arts and Crafts as a counterpart to the Guild's endeavors. The Guild had eight workshops that produced everything from furniture to printed books. Aesthetic excellence was the primary goal, though members claimed that production from good fellowship came first. The school incorporated facilities for swimming, gardening, cooking, carpentry, lectures from his friends, dying crafts such as lead glazing, domestic science classes, drama -- all of which Ashbee termed "the life and duties of the citizen" (Nayden 170). However, the Guild's remote location meant that it was unable to compete for profit with the cheaper renditions of its designs, which were marketed by Liberty and Company and others. These immediate and practical problems were intensified by a contemporary preference for antiques, which Ashbee observed to be "turned out in hundreds to the hum of the latest American machinery" (Nayden 171). In 1907 the Guild found itself defeated by the cost of removal to the country and the difficulty of sending goods to London for sale. Voluntary liquidation took place in 1908, but a revised and less formal association lived on through guildsmen who continued the Guild of Handicraft under a trust until 1919.

In 1908, Ashbee remained convinced of the soundness of the ideology of the Arts and Crafts Movement. He still believed in the formation of a guild or co-operative system that could meet contemporary industrial needs without losing the individuality and freedom of personal expression that he believed essential to his work. However, only three years later his thoughts seem almost completely changed, as he openly recognized the role that industry and machinery inevitably had to play in the practice and teaching of art. By 1911, Ashbee urged that schools develop more concrete links with industry, no longer denying the machine-made object an aesthetic value. In Should We Stop Teaching Art? , he wrote:

It is often supposed that there cannot be beautiful machine products, or that the beauty of a mechanical object lies in its conformity to the standard of a hand-made piece. But experience does not bear out this supposition. In modern mechanical industry "standard" is necessary, and "standardization" is necessary. The principle in each is sound and the community needs both." [Nayden 176].

Ultimately, Ashbee found himself forced to recognize the need to reconcile the claims and perceptions of the individual with the requirements of the mass market he saw that the Arts and Crafts ideals of truth to material and individual expression would require application to the machine-made product. Perhaps this realization was urged by the undeniable fact that the Guild witnessed a stark disconnect between their ideals and their achievements. When they idealistically abandoned the idea of practical expediency through industry, their dreamed of society couldn't help bearing little relationship to contemporary reality. As a result, the consumption of their products saw itself confined to an affluent and intelligent elite whose lifestyle departed from the simplistic yet individualistic ideology of the Guild. With the realization of this dilemma, Ashbee represents the acknowledged British concern for social, economic, and aesthetic dilemmas of design and architecture.


1. Ashbee's work triumphed individuality and the creation of a new art, a personal British aesthetic that disassociated itself from the stylistic extravagances of Art Nouveau and preferred to direct its endeavors towards a social end. He focused not only on end-products, but on the society that shaped them, designed them, made them, sold them, and bought them. In fact Ashbee had a strong contempt for Art Nouveau that inspired him to write a verse on the subject:

I'm in the fashion -- non-controversial,
And the fashion is nothing if not commercial,
Pre-Raphaelite once, with a tiny twist
Of the philosophical hedonist,
Inspired by Whistler -- next a touch
Of the 'Arts and Crafts', but not too much.
Then Impressionism, the daintiest fluke
Then the German squirm, and the Glasgow spook,
A spice of the latest French erotic,
Anything new and Studiotic,
As long as it tells in black and white,
And however wrong comes out all right,
'Id est', as long as it pays, you know,
That's what's meant by L'Art Nouveau! [Naylor 168]

What can we make of this verse? What did Ashbee find so distasteful about Art Nouveau, and how did it clash with his conception of the ideal role of art and design?

2. The originals members of the Guild included John Pearson, John Williams, W.A. White, and William Hardiman, and the cabinet maker C.V. Adams. Ashbee met White at Toynbee Hall, where White worked as an assistant in a City bookshop. Ashbee himself defined Hardiman's equally romantic origins as deriving from his work "earning 15s a week by trundling catsmeat barrow. He came to the School of Handicraft in the evenings, and I was struck with the extraordinary fidelity and feeling with which he made a copy of the St. Cecilia of Donatello" (Naylor 168). The romanticized origins of the Guild's founding members may remind us of certain members of the PRB's affinity for adopting lower class women and fashioning themselves as their educators and benefactors (recall D.G. Rossetti's relationship with Lizzie Siddal and Janey Morris, etc.). How does this romanticizing of lower class origins play into the ideologies of each movement? Does it fulfill a parallel role for each group?

3. Ashbee wrote, "'The Arts and Crafts Movement' means standards, whether of work or life the protection of standards, whether in the product or the producer, and it means that these things must be taken together" (Denker 7). Ashbee here expresses his desire to avert mankind's enslavement to the machine. He wanted to save the mass product and the home from mechanical dictatorship and standardization through a return to individualized workmanship. How do these goals seem nationalistic?

4. By invoking the rhetoric of a "protection of standards," Ashbee's goals seem in themselves normative -- to what extent was the Arts and Crafts movement self-contradictory or paradoxical in its proclamation of individualism as a movement? Do you think that the elite who purchased Ashbee's work did so for the authenticity and individuality of each piece, or because the work was in itself part of a trend? If they were attracted to its authenticity, what explains the success of Liberty and Company and others who sold more cheaply produced renditions of Ashbee's designs?

5. Can we see any concern similar to the Arts and Crafts preoccupation with the social purpose of design and architecture in the PRB movement? Why or why not?

6. In Modern English Silverwork , Ashbee describes how "style and character" are formed by the acquisition of technical skills, combined with an awareness of past achievements:

It is in the learning how to do things and do them well, that many fresh design motives are evolved. So it comes that when a little group of men learn to pull together in a workshop, to trust each other, to play into each other's hand, and understand each other's limitations, their combination becomes creative, and the character that they develop in themselves takes expression in the work of their fingers. Humanity and craftsmanship are essential. [Naylor 167]

Can we find the influence of John Ruskin in this passage? Do the PRB and Ashbee's Guild take the same cues from Ruskin, or do they interpret his ideas differently?

Each pupil is taught first to conceive the design, and then apply it through the help of the other classes to the different materials, the wood, the metal, the clay, the gesso, the flat surface for painting. The effort here, therefore, is not to emulate the ordinary Technical School but to follow in the lines laid down by leading artists who have the encouragement of the handicrafts at heart, in the belief that the modern cry for the education of the hand and eye can only be fully achieved in the education of the individuality in the workman. [Naylor 167]

How does Ashbee's conception of the process of design place itself in opposition to industrialization?

8. Preoccupation with furniture and decoration reflected a concern for the decorative arts that had intrigued the Pre-Raphaelites and their associates for a long time. They shared the idea that artists should involve themselves in the so-called lesser arts and along with other groups wished to attack academic exclusiveness. Several PRB artists, such as Ford Madox Brown and William Holman Hunt identified decorative design as part of a purported true artist's ambition. How did the ideology of the PRB play into the development of Ashbee's Guild of the Handicraft and the Arts and Crafts Movement in general?


Anscombe, Isabelle. Arts and Crafts Style . New York: Rizzoli International Publications, 1991.

Braznell, Scott W. "The Influence of C.R. Ashbee and His Guild of Handicraft on American Silver, Other Metalwork, and Jewelry" in The Substance of Style . Ed. Bert Denker. Winterthur, Delaware: The Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, 1996. 25-45.

Crawford, Alan, C.R. Ashbee: Architect, Designer and Romantic Socialist . New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985.

Naylor, Gillian, "Ashbee and the Craft of the Machine," The Arts and Crafts Movement: a Study of Its Sources, Ideals and Influence on design theory . Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1971. 166-170.

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