WHITECHAPEL AND SO TO FLEET STREET
Such places [as Toynbee Hall] represent simply a protest against the sin of taking things for granted, in particular taking one's own social position or conditions for granted.
Letter to my mother, at age 25, November 28, 1904.
T OYNBEE HALL was the invention of one man, though not the man after whom it was named. In 1872 Samuel Augustus Barnett, then a curate in Kensington, came to be Vicar of St. Jude's in Whitechapel, by repute one of the worst parishes in London for poverty and crime. He conceived the idea that one of the things wrong with London was its physical separation into cities of the poor and cities of the well-to- do, an East End and a West End. This meant that the former lacked men of leisure and education for their necessary common activities; it meant that the latter were ignorant of the nature and consequences of poverty.
This evil had been appreciated before Barnett's time in Whitechapel. Edward Denison, a young man of aristocratic descent, generally regarded as the first settler, had established himself in 1867 in Stepney, with the double object of learning the facts of life in East London and of being on the spot to help if exceptional distress should come. Edmund Hollond, another early settler of like type, became one of those responsible for suggesting to the then Bishop of London the appointment of Samuel Barnett to St. Jude's. In doing so he started something greater than he could have expected. Barnett, himself an Oxford man, soon began a regular series of visits to his old University and to Cambridge to bring Whitechapel to knowledge there. He persuaded individual friends of his to come for long visits to the East End; one of these was Arnold Toynbee, a don at Balliol -- Apostle Arnold as he came to be to his friends. But visits were not enough. After a few years Barnett contrived the foundation of a Settlement where men of University type -- civil servants, barristers, doctors and so on -- while pursuing their avocations, could live together and become citizens of the East End rather than of the West End. The body established to maintain and control this venture was the Universities Settlement Association. The Settlement, named after Arnold Toynbee who had died recently, opened its doors in December 1884.