Icons of Toynbee Hall: Ambrose Appelbe


Ambrose Appelbe was a successful lawyer who represented a string of high-profile clients including the film star Ingrid Bergman and the murderer John Christie. But he was also a committed philanthropist who had a life-long relationship with Toynbee Hall. Early in his legal career he worked at Toynbee Hall’s Poor Man’s Lawyer service, the forerunner of today’s Free Legal Advice Service.    

By Liz Allen and Dan Scales

Appelbe studied law at Cambridge. He came to live at Toynbee Hall in 1926 and volunteered at the Poor Man’s Lawyer Service until the early 1930s. At weekly advice surgeries Appelbe and his fellow lawyers gave free advice to local residents on issues ranging from debt advice to tenants rights. Whilst volunteering at Toynbee Hall Appelbe met and married fellow Poor Man’s lawyer and legal trailblazer Carrie Morrison. For a while the couple lived on the Toynbee Estate at Booth House.

Appelbe maintained his connection with Toynbee Hall all his life. He acted as our Honorary Solicitor until the 1990s and worked with many famous Toynbee Hall ‘alumni’ including William Beveridge and Clement Attlee. To learn more about Ambrose Appelbe and his connection with Toynbee Hall read the full booklet here.

Ambrose Appelbe. Copyright Felix Appelbe.