Icons of Toynbee Hall: Thomas Hill Green


Thomas Hill Green was a moral philosopher and a political radical. He did not live to see Toynbee Hall. But even after his death his ideas and enduring influence attracted a stream of Balliol graduates to Toynbee Hall.  His thinking inspired early residents including the writer J.A. Spender and the architect C.R. Ashbee.  

By Dan Scales

Green emphasised individual moral duty and valued practical social work over charitable giving or state aid. He was a social liberal who believed that the vote should be extended to working men. As a Professor at Balliol College he also worked to open up scholarships to poorer students. Green believed that the social problems caused by industrialisation could and should be solved by community action. As he put it



Common good dwells in cooperative social life in which we all have a fair share

At Toynbee Hall the Barnetts and their early residents strived to put these principles into practice. To learn more about the ideas of Thomas Hill Green and their relevance to Toynbee Hall read the full booklet here.