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

   The website of the Kingsley Hall Community Centres Heritage Committee (KHCCHC)

   Email :     Copyright  LAPOLLO Systems on behalf of KHCCHC

   Every attempt has been made to ensure no materials are used without permission of copyright

   owners. If you believe we have breached this please contact us to agree appropriate actions.

Welcome to Muriel Lester.Org Muriel & Doris Lester Doris Lester Lester Family The Origins of the Kingsley Halls KH Bow KH Dagenham Childrens House Childrens House Dagenham Gandhi KH People Past Events Locations Heritage Project The Muriel Lester Archive Oral Histories Blue Plaques Heritage Committee Contact Us Data Protection

Links with Gandhi

Muriel Lester had met Mahatma Gandhi many times in her role as Travelling Secretary of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation.

In September 1931, Gandhi attended the (Second) Round Table Conference in London as the representative of the Indian National Congress Party, whose sole aim was Indian independence. The British government laid on a suite of rooms at the Hilton Hotel and a fleet of Rolls Royces for Gandhi’s entourage, but Gandhi rejected these arrangements saying that he would rather stay with his friend Muriel Lester at Kingsley Hall in Bow.

He was accommodated in a ‘cell’ on the roof and was able to live in the same simple style in which he lived in India. Kingsley Hall, Bow became the centre of world attention during his three months’ stay and many famous people came to see him, but he was more interested in meeting and getting to know the East Londoners.

Whilst he was staying at Bow he was accompanied by children on his early morning walks. One such child was Bill Saville a lifelong member of Kingsley Hall at Bow and then Dagenham.

He wrote an essay about meeting Gandhi (age 11). This was syndicated in newspapers across India.

Gandhi visited Bill’s home in Eagling Road whilst his mother was ironing. To hear his sister’s account click here.      Muriel Lester recorded the incident in her book “It Occurred to Me”

Muriel Lester took Gandhi out to visit Kingsley Hall, Dagenham on numerous occasions – the first of which was particularly memorable! Many local dignitaries, the local Mayors and M.P.s turned out to welcome him. Gandhi, wearing his familiar loin cloth, arrived in Muriel’s Austin A7 .

He was shown into the Old Hall where he sat cross-legged on the floor to listen to the many speeches of welcome that greeted him. When it was his turn to respond, he motioned for a pencil and piece of paper on which he wrote, “Thank you very much; Monday is my day of silence upon which I never speak”! Muriel explained that Gandhi’s weekly day of silence enabled him to listen better, think better and pray better. She added, “You need not be shy of talking to him, however” and that he liked little children very much. Kingsley Hall, Dagenham children christened the Mahatma “Uncle Gandhi” and “The Dumb Man”!

For eye witness account of the visit click here

When Gandhi left to return to India in December 1931, he wrote in the Kingsley Hall Visitors’ Book –   “Love surrounded me here”

Mahatma Gandhi Original Speech Delivered In Kingsley Hall, London 1931

Gandhi travels to Britain includes short scene at KH Bow
@ 2 min 56

Muriel Lester describes where Gandhi would stay

The spinning wheel he used, shown here on display KH Bow Nov 29, 2008

Some videos about Gandhi’s stay at Bow.

Please note the video clips can be seen full page by clicking the You Tube button and then selecting “full screen” (bottom right)