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Canning Town Women's Settlement

The Canning Town Women’s Settlement movement was founded by Reverend Samuel Barnett in the late 19th century. The basis for the movement was that personal involvement is central to tackling poverty.

The Settlements were usually linked to a university or public school with students encouraged to settle in areas of social deprivation, and work alongside fellow residents to improve the quality of life for everyone. At the end of the 19th century, many settlement projects had begun to emerge. A prominent example of this was the Canning Town Women’s Settlement which was the idea of F. W. Newland. His motives lay in his Christian desire to help others and look after the less fortunate in society.

Christianity was central to much of the Settlement’s activities, but those involved believed in showing their faith through actions rather than preaching. They gained support from the wider community and could rely on the support of many different groups.

The Canning Town Women’s Settlement was founded in 1892 and was originally based at 461 Barking Road. The first warden for the settlement was Rebecca Cheetham and over time, the settlement begun to grow and more locations were bought.

In 1899, the Women’s Settlement opened the Lees Hall, Barking Road as their main headquarters and offices. Various clubs and societies were available here for local women including an employment agency. The work at the settlement included medical help for adults and children, employment help and education classes for mothers. The settlement provided social classes to go alongside the more practical courses that were run, and provided a hospital among other services, later sending patients on to a convalescent home in Loughton.

The settlement operated on money raised by its members mainly through subscriptions and fundraising events. World War Two had a big impact on the settlement – with many of the locations badly damaged and burnt down – however, the work continued and the settlement continued to help people – especially those who had been affected by the War.

In 1968 after finances begun to struggle, the settlement was taken over by Aston Charities, who later went on to merge with another settlement project Mansfield House to become Aston Mansfield. Aston Mansfield still operates in the area today, helping to serve the local community.

Image: Rebecca Cheetham at the Lees Hall Co-op Guild, Courtesy of Newham Archives

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