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What is a settlement?

A settlement by definition is a place where the community comes together and blends by engaging in social activities.

Oxford House in Bethnal Green was the first ‘settlement’ to open in what used to be called the East End of London. Founded by Keble College, Oxford in 1884, it was built as a home for graduates, tutors and those intending to enter the Church. They could learn at first-hand about the problems of disadvantages areas and provide practical support for the local community, but 2. a. The dwellings of the poor in Bethnal Green – the state of the water supply, Illustrated Times, 1863most importantly, its purpose was to promote ‘the preparation of character for… the reception of the religion of Christ’.

Oxford House opened its doors on 8th of September, in the old day school of St Andrew’s.  One large room was divided into cubicles, and the club room was downstairs. The House only had accommodation for four residents who “…are anxious to understand the real condition of the labouring classes in East London…” Annual Report, Oxford House.

Oxford House had been founded as ‘labour refuges or shelters for congested gentlemen in the East End’. The Settlement would bring poor uneducated gentlemen under the healthy influence of contact with working men and the poor in Bethnal Green.

– Cameron, Averil; Archer, Ian W. “Keble the Past and Present” Third Millennium, London 2008
– Images: a. The first Oxford House from “Oxford House in Bethnal Green 1884-1948”  b “The dwellings of the poor in Bethnal Green – the state of the water supply”, Illustrated Times, 1863.