John Passmore Edwards

 

Passmore Edwards Settlement

1897

Towards the latter part of the 19th century "Carlyle, Meredith, William Morris, Tennyson, Mathew Arnold and a host of other profound intellects were all alike alive to the troubles and injustices of the time. Oxford men and others inspired mainly by the philosophy of T H Green were starting the Settlement movement. Not unnaturally these minds began to query the validity of the hitherto accepted creeds. The distortion of social tradition was called into question. How far was wealth providing benefit to the community? How far was the religion of that time expressed so as to meet the needs of a submerged people? Perhaps no book caused greater discussion on the later subject than Mrs Humprey Ward's three volumes of "Robert Elsmere". This book was eagerly bought and read by thousands and thousands; for the authoress had well read the significant symptoms of spiritual unrest in the country." (History of the Mary Ward settlement 1891-1931- John Rodgers)
Mary Humprey Ward Mary Humprey Ward, wife of an Oxford Don and grand daughter of Thomas Arnold, headmaster of Rugby School, was a woman of actions as well as ideals. She had already established a settlement at University Hall, London in 1891 and this success inspired her to seek funding for a purpose built centre. Amongst those that she approached was Passmore Edwards although he, at first, offered little more than encouragement saying that he "had his hands full at present and was thus unable to help". He was, however, soon to be persuaded and within 2 months he had promised to support her proposals.
In March 1895 he wrote "You are quite at liberty to pledge me to the extent of £7,000 and if you insist in calling it the Passmore Edwards Settlement then I must insist on increasing my donation to £10,000".
In the next few years he was to support her not only by sums of money totalling over £12,000 but readily gave her advice on who else to approach and took a close interest in the details of the site chosen and the proposed contractual arrangements with the landowner, the Duke of Bedford.
The chosen site was in Tavistock Place and a competition for its design was held and won by two young architects who had been residents at the University Hall Settlement, Dunbar Smith and Cecil Brewer. Both in their mid 20's this was their first major project and yet is a major architectural achievement.
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Acknowledgement of contributions and  copyright
© Dean Evans 2003
April 20, 2007
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Passmore Edwards buildings in Devon and Cornwall
Hospitals and Homes in London and the south east  Counties
Libraries and Art Galleries in London and South East Counties
Miscellaneous gifts and donations
Passmore Edwards autobiography,,  A few footprints.
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