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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0074 LMA/4524
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1888-2000
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 55 boxes and 15 volumes.
Name of creator(s): Passmore Edwards Settlement x Mary Ward Settlement x Mary Ward Centre


Administrative/Biographical history:

Mary Ward:
Mary Ward was born Mary Augusta Arnold in June 1851. Her father Thomas Arnold was a school inspector, the son of Dr Thomas Arnold, headmaster of Rugby school, and brother of Matthew Arnold the poet. In July 1871 Mary married journalist Humphry Ward. They had three children: Dorothy (1874-1964), Arnold (1876-1950) and Janet (1879-1956). From the 1880s Mary began to establish herself as a writer and journalist: her novel Robert Elsmere was published in 1888. It was a bestseller and secured Mary's reputation, earning her a 7000 advance on her next book. Mary Ward continued to write throughout her life, producing novels as well as works of a religious nature including biblical criticism. She also went on lecture tours (including in America, where she befriended Theodore Roosevelt) and devoted much time to philanthropic causes. In 1904 her daughter Janet married the historian G.M Trevelyan. From June 1908, and to much opposition from friends and family, Mary agreed to become the head of the Women's Anti-Suffrage Association, who campaigned against the suffragette movement. She began to produce anti-suffrage fiction which was not successful. During the First World War her reputation was improved by her contribution to the war effort. She was asked by Roosevelt to produce propaganda to be sold in America: England's Effort (1916) is credited with helping to involve the United States in the war and was followed by two more books. In 1919 Mary Ward was made a CBE and in 1920 was asked to become one of the country's first woman magistrates. However, over work caused her health to deteriorate, and she died in March 1920.

The Settlement:
Mary Ward's highly successful novel Robert Elsmere featured a young Anglican priest undergoing a spiritual crisis, who eventually decides that if faith is to be effective it must meet the needs of the community through good works; in his case through involvement with the "New Brotherhood", a settlement in the East End of London. The idea caught the attention and conscience of many readers and inspired much debate. Mary Ward was encouraged to attempt to found a Settlement which would give practical expression to the ideas in her novel, along the lines of the Toynbee Hall in East London. She began to raise funds for the project. Premises in Gordon Square were rented and named the "University Hall Settlement", with the aim of providing "improved popular teaching of the Bible and of the history of religion", and to secure for residents of the Hall "opportunities for religious and social work".

There were some religious disagreements among the residents of the Hall and in 1891 a small group secured a separate building east of Tavistock Square, called Marchmont Hall. They ran programmes and clubs for local men and boys, including talks, debates and concerts. To Mary Ward's disappointment, these clubs proved more popular than the Biblical and religious lectures at University Hall, and she decided to launch an appeal to provide a more spacious building which could accommodate the activities of both institutions. In 1894 John Passmore Edwards, a publisher and philanthropist, offered a considerable sum towards the building of a new Settlement. The Duke of Bedford, who owned most of the land in the Bloomsbury area, was approached and agreed to grant land on Tavistock Place, which was considered suitable as it was on the edge of an area of great poverty, Saint Pancras. Architects Dunbar Smith and Cecil Brewer won a competition to provide the design of the building and construction began in 1896. The building was opened in February 1898, named the Passmore Edwards Settlement after its main benefactor. In her speech at the opening of the Settlement Mary Ward defined its purpose as providing "education, social intercourse, and debate of the wider sort, music, books, pictures, travel". She continued: "it is these that make life rich and animated, that ease the burden of it, that stand perpetually between a man and a woman and the darker, coarser temptations of our human road".

In 1899 the Settlement expanded to include one of England's first day schools for the physically disabled, the Invalid Children's School. Mary Ward was heavily involved in the movement to provide greater care for the disabled, including the provision of better meals and training for employment. In 1902 the Settlement opened a Vacation School, a holiday club intended to keep children off the streets and occupied during the summer. This idea developed into after school clubs, called Evening Play Centres. Both Mary Ward and her daughter Janet were campaigners for the provision of after school activities, and persuaded the Board of Education to provide grants to such organisations, so that by the 1930s around 40 such play centres were open across London. Similarly, both Mary Ward and her daughters were involved in the appeal to preserve part of Coram's Fields, the site of the Foundling Hospital, as a children's playground. The Settlement also ran very popular youth clubs for teenagers.

During the First World War the Settlement was used by Belgian refugees and the Red Cross. A School for Mothers was founded which aimed to provide pre and ante natal advice; and was complemented by a nursery. The Settlement also became involved in the training of teachers and social workers, domestic economy classes, and help for the unemployed.

Mary Ward died in 1920 and in 1921, with the agreement of Passmore Edwards' family, the name of the Settlement was changed to the Mary Ward Settlement (changed to the Mary Ward Centre in around 1970). In the same year a Dramatic Arts Centre was formed at the Settlement, which developed into the St Pancras People's Theatre and the Tavistock Little Theatre. From the 1930s a greater emphasis began to be placed on the provision of adult education and training courses. In the 1940s a Legal Advice Centre was opened, providing legal aid, and later financial advice, to those on lower incomes.

In the 1930s the Settlement felt that the increasing gentrification of the Tavistock Place area meant that their original purpose of outreach to the poor was not being met. It was decided to sell the lease of Mary Ward House and move to a new Centre in South Islington, which was considered a area of greater social deprivation. The Second World War interrupted these plans and the move did not take place. The monies made from selling the lease became the South Islington Mothers and Babies Fund, providing grants to mothers in need living in the South Islington area. The Settlement also supported the Elizabeth Whitelaw Reid Youth Club in Islington.

The Settlement was then put in the position of renting back what used to be its building, and found that rents were increasingly too expensive. For a period between 1960 and 1980 the main part of Mary Ward House was rented by the National Institute for Social Work Training; while the Centre sub-let rooms in the former Cripple School at 9 Tavistock Place. The arrangement was unsatisfactory and cramped, and in 1982 the Centre made a deal with the London County Council to move into nearby 42/43 Queen Square, in the former Stanhope Institute.

In 1990 the Mary Ward Centre was declared a 'Special Designated Institution' by Act of Parliament. Mary Ward Legal Centre was set up as separate subsidiary charity of the Settlement and moved to nearby Boswell Street. The Mary Ward Education Centre has been given Beacon status as recognition of the high standard. The Centre runs a wide variety of adult education course and community outreach programmes.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the Mary Ward Centre, formerly known as the Mary Ward Settlement and the Passmore Edwards Settlement. Also some records of predecessor institutions University Hall Settlement and Marchmont Hall; and associated organisations such as the Holborn Community Centre and the Association of Principals of Literary Institutes and Colleges.

The records include papers relating to the foundation of the Settlement, particularly correspondence of Mary Ward with supporters and benefactors; minutes of the Council, the Finance and General Purposes Committee and other Committees; administrative and financial files relating to the daily running of the Settlement and the maintenance of Settlement property; papers of the Chairman and Wardens which relate to the management of the Settlement and reflect the interests of individual wardens, particularly relating to adult education provision in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s; papers relating to various appeals to raise funds to prevent the closure of the Settlement; and papers relating to grant applications.

Also papers relating to the activities of the Settlement including prospectuses and syllabi outlining adult education courses; papers of youth clubs, vacation schools, evening play centres, clubs for the elderly and clubs for women; papers relating to the School for Invalid Children; papers relating to the provision of financial and legal advice; papers regarding the introduction of computing services in the early 1990s; press cuttings and photographs. The collection also includes some personal papers of Mary Ward and her daughter Dorothy Ward.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

LMA/4524/A: Committees;
LMA/4524/B: Administration;
LMA/4524/C: Finance;
LMA/4524/D: Personnel;
LMA/4524/E: Education;
LMA/4524/F: Papers of Chairmen;
LMA/4524/G: Papers of Wardens;
LMA/4524/H: Papers of Honorary Treasurers;
LMA/4524/I: Property;
LMA/4524/J: Associated Organisations and Societies;
LMA/4524/K: Printed Items;
LMA/4524/L: Photographs;
LMA/4524/M: Mary Ward personal papers;
LMA/4524/N: Dorothy Ward personal papers.

Conditions governing access:

These records are available for public inspection, although records containing personal information may be subject to access restrictions.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright to these records rests with the depositor.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Attempts have been made in the past to order the records and many have been numbered on at least three separate occasions. This has left some papers with more than one previous number attached (for example, a bundle might be '5' in pencil, '16' in purple pen and '25A' in red pencil). These numbers have been recorded in the former reference field.

Immediate source of acquisition:

Records deposited in July 2007.

Allied Materials

Related material:

For papers relating to the lease of Mary Ward House by the National Institute for Social Work, and the architecture of the House, see LMA/4532: Mary Ward House Trust. Correspondence between Mary Ward and Samuel and Henrietta Barnett (founders of Toynbee Hall) can be found at LMA/4266. Papers about the Mary Ward School are amongst the LCC Education Office papers, reference LCC/EO/DIV02/MAY. Correspondence from Mary Ward relating to the Invalid School can be found at O/030.

For the records of other Settlements see Toynbee Hall (A/TOY, ACC/2486) and Lady Margaret Hall Settlement (A/LMH).

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
June to August 2010.

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