Muriel and Doris Lester &
The Heritage of the Kingsley Hall Community Centres

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Children’s House Bow

Children's House in Bromley-by-Bow was Doris Lester's dream. Doris was a trained teacher, enthusiastic about the progressive educational ideas of the time. She and her sister Muriel, joint founders of Kingsley Hall, commissioned architect Charles Cowles-Voysey to design a building based on Maria Montessori's ideal learning environment for young children. In the middle of dirty streets with air polluted by local factories, it gave the children clean, bright and airy spaces, with a classroom and play area on the roof. Children's House was opened in 1923 by H.G. Wells. Today it is run by Tower Hamlets Council and in 2011 it was named nursery of the year by Nursery World magazine.

Eve Garnett was an artist, illustrator and writer. She wrote the first children's book with working-class main characters, The Family from One End Street, in 1937. Two years earlier she painted a twelve-metre mural in the main room of Children's House. Across the wall, a line of children are seen walking along an East End street. At the end of the street they go through a door into a green wood where they can play freely. The mural shows the Lester sisters' social and educational ideals in graphic form and is an important part of Kingsley Hall's heritage.

The paintings are now dirty and damaged. In its present state the mural is a problem for the school - it could be a wonderful asset.

Kingsley Hall has started a campaign to save the mural. The first step is to raise £1500 for a condition survey and report. Please help by sending a cheque made out to Children's House Nursery School with 'Eve Garnett Mural' written on the back to: Children's House Nursery School, 92 Bruce Road, London E3 3HL

For more information contact Alice Mackay at