Blog > The Original Oxford House

The Original Oxford House

The story of Oxford House begins in late Victorian period, on 8 September 1884 — a time of a growing awareness of the plight of the working classes. OH was one of the first settlements established by High Church Anglicans from Oxford University, who were eager to bridge the social gap and bring the well-off students face to face with poverty. Led by a strong Christian social ethos, the first Heads of the House saw bringing people to a personal faith in Christ inseparably linked to the bettering of their living conditions.

OriginalOhAndPark

On the left: The first Oxford House in the disused school of St Andrew’s. On the right: A view of Weavers Fields, where the first OH once stood

Oxford House had its first premises in the disused school building of St Andrew’s in Bethnal Green. The school could accommodate only five residents, but despite its lack of space and incommodious nature, students came down from Oxford finding lodgings elsewhere in Bethnal Green. A resident had no need of particular skills. The willingness to interact with and understand the working man was vital. As one of the first Heads, James G. Adderley, explained: “For if he cannot preach in the streets, he may be able to play football on a Saturday afternoon.”

maps

The arrows show the location of the first and the today’s OH premises

The House put great emphasis on running Clubs for working class boys and men, which offered opportunities to socialise and pursue leisure activities. Sports in particular were a great favourite. The House did not only strive to provide healthy amusement, but also to promote intellectual and cultural activities. Its busy programme featured concerts, plays, debates and lectures on topics such as literature, history, philosophy and ethics. An important part of the early settlement work was also the Heads’ Sunday lecturing at the then lively speakers’ corner in Victoria Park. It was a popular working class weekend hangout and it allowed the first OH leaders to interact with a wider public.

On the left: James G. Adderley lecturing in Victoria Park near the Drinking Fountain. On the right: The Drinking Fountain today. The speakers’ corner was located next to the trees in the background.

On the left: James G. Adderley lecturing in Victoria Park near the Drinking Fountain. On the right: The Drinking Fountain today. The speakers’ corner was located next to the trees in the background.

Addressing the social issues in the area was another major concern of the OH residents. They worked on improving sanitary conditions, helped the unemployed, homeless and the sick. Some of the services that the House offered — the sick fund, poor man’s lawyer, labour registry for those out of work and mutual loan society — were pioneering for that period.

By 1892, when the present-day building was inaugurated, the House was firmly rooted in the area. Its engaging spirit and principles influenced some of the later university settlements that sprung up around London.

 

Text: Maja Bevk
Images:
1. The first Oxford House in the disused school of St Andrew’s. Oxford House.
2. Weavers’ Fields. Maja Bevk. Oxford House.
3. Map data ©2016 Google
4. Extract from University Missions at the East End, Oxford House, Bethnal Green. 1888. Look and Learn.
5. Drinking Fountain. Maja Bevk. Oxford House.

Guardar

Guardar

Heritage
Workers and Welfare: Living Conditions of the 1800’s East End On This Day... 30th November 1891 WANTED: Archivist for heritage project Fascism in the East End The Blitz The Original Oxford House Conscientious objectors The Welsh Schools The Excelsior The Effects of World War I in Oxford House War Memorial The Inauguration of the Oxford House Building 1892 From Oxford House to Local and International Stardom In the Spotlight: the Repton Boxing Club and Oxford House Hensley Henson, Oxford House leader The Kray Twins Alfred Soord, The Crucifixion. Oxford House Chapel Women and Oxford House Oxford House and its Clubs Why you should donate to save our secret chapel The Bethnal Green Tube Tragedy The Webbe Boys’ Club Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No! It’s Super Kid (a.k.a. Eddie Marsan) Save Oxford House's 'Secret' Chapel Oxford House and Arthur Foley Winnington-Ingram Our resolution? Raise all the funds to start our major heritage project Post War Regeneration of Bethnal Green Weavers’ Fields and the Huguenots Guy Clutton-Brock: from Oxford House to hero of Zimbabwe WWI: Zeppelins or ‘Take me back to dear old Blighty’ The Hidden Gem: Oxford House Chapel History in the making Oxford House and Ben Uri Gallery The Chapel Oxford House Arms: Dominus Illuminatio Mea Why is Oxford House listed as Grade II Heritage? Heritage Lottery Fund - 'Oh! ‘wins’ the lottery' Who designed Oxford House? The Boys and Men’s Clubs in the 19th and early 20th century Why a new building in 1891? Rise under Rev. Winnington-Ingram How it all begun. Clubs and activities at Oxford House 1884 Who created Oxford House? What is a settlement? 130 Not out! Our pre-history: The Oxford Movement From Victorian Gap Year to Community Hub
archive categories
Oxford House
Derbyshire Street,
Bethnal Green,
London E2 6HG
UK
Phone
020 7739 9001

Email
info@oxfordhouse.org.uk
Sign up for eNewsletter
© oxford house by bethnal green 2014 . copyright . all rights reserved . powered by devstars
Charity Number: 208582 . Company No: 59858 . VAT Registration No: 752 0306 67