The Buildings of Toynbee Hall


We have recently completed a major redevelopment of the East End site where we have been based since 1884. We have come a long way since our founder Samuel Barnett purchased a “grim disused” Industrial School site on which to build his new University Settlement. Over the years the Toynbee Estate has grown and changed. But our buildings have always been a valuable resource for us, our resident volunteers and our local community.

By Andrew Caunce

The beautiful original Hall building which still stands today was built to look like a “manorial residence in Elizabethan style”. It stood out in a neighbourhood full of cramped slum housing. It included a lecture hall, a library, bedrooms for residents and an elaborate drawing room decorated with eastern rugs and Japanese-style wall hangings.

By 1890 there was separate on-site accommodation for the resident volunteers at Wadham House and Balliol House. The building now used by Artsadmin was completed in 1938. It included a theatre, art studios and a Juvenile Court which are still preserved today. Parts of the site were destroyed by bombing during the Blitz and, after the war, a major reconstruction programme began. Attlee House was one post-war addition and included accommodation for the elderly and a Senior Care and Leisure Centre.  As part of the recent regeneration work these post-war buildings have been replaced by purpose-built spaces for our Advice and Wellbeing services. The original Hall has also been restored to its former glory.

To find out more about the buildings of Toynbee Hall read the full booklet here.


Aerial view
Aerial view of Toynbee Hall, 1984