Muriel and Doris Lester &
The Heritage of the Kingsley Hall Community Centres
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The Origins of the Kingsley Halls
Muriel and Doris Lester were two of five children of Henry Edward Lester an eminent Victorian shipping engineer. They started life in a middle-
The Lester family lived in great wealth and comfort in the Woodford Green area of Essex and it was only when the Lester sisters saw the slums and poverty of the East End from trains as they travelled into the City that they realised that not everyone had the same lifestyle and privilege that they had.
They asked their father if they could visit the East End and made many trips particularly to the Bow area where they made numerous friends amongst the people living there.
It was in l902 that Muriel first became acquainted with the people of Bow.
In 1902, Muriel, was invited to THE FACTORY GIRLS' DANCE, at Bow, East London. She accepted the invitation out of curiosity. Muriel, an attractive, vivacious, eighteen year-
Muriel still in her early twenties became the leader of the Women's group at Bruce Road Congregational Church. She arranged classes on subjects, such as: Workers Rights. Music. Drama. Diet. The Bible. Muriel was a strong supporter of 'Votes for women'
In 1912, the sisters and brother Kingsley moved into Bow renting number 60 Bruce Road. George Lansbury, MP for the area, was a regular visitor. In 1912 Lansbury resigned his seat to fight a by-
An Adult School was opened, aimed at men with a desire for self-
To cope with the expanding workload 58 Bruce Road was also rented. But the very sudden death of their beloved brother Kingsley, in 1914, (aged 26), tested their Christian beliefs and physical strength to the very limit. Even in the darkest days of the 1914-
Father Henry wanted a lasting memorial to Kingsley, so he financed the purchase of a Baptist Chapel on the comer of Eagling and Botolph Road. On the 13 February 1915, the very first “Kingsley Hall' was opened. The aims were quite clearly stated on its membership card:
"As a place of fellowship in which people can meet for social, educational and recreational intercourse without barriers of class, colour or creed."
|World War One|
|World War II|
|Doris with children|
|Lester Family Tree (manuscript)|
|Lester Family Tree|
|KH Bow Constitution|
|KH Bow Building|
|Tour of KH Bow|
|"Mad to be Normal"|
|Sydney J Russell|
|KH Dagenham Buildings|
|KH Dag Buildings Plaque|
|Childrens House Mural|
|Evening with Muriel Lester May 13, 2015|