Icons of Toynbee Hall: Arnold Toynbee


Much is known about iconic figures such as Samuel Barnett, William Beveridge and Clement Attlee who shaped the early years of Toynbee Hall. Less however is known about Arnold Toynbee and his relationship with the Settlement, he had a short but meaningful life and was admired by the founders so much so that Henrietta Barnett suggested it be named after him.

By Celia Toynbee

As I sat on that Sunday afternoon among the crowd of strong-brained, clean-living men, the thought flashed to me let us call the Settlement Toynbee Hall...our new Settlement received its name before a brick was laid or the plans concluded…

Arnold Toynbee died aged 30 in 1883 and it is ironic that he died without knowing his legacy. It was during a memorial service to him on 10th March 1884 that Henrietta noticed that Balliol Chapel was packed with men who had come in loving memory and she felt were filled by the aspiration to copy Arnold in caring so much for those who had fallen by the wayside. In that moment she decided the settlement they were establishing should be named after him.

Click here to read the full booklet on him.