Bishop Creighton House has changed its operating name to The Creighton Centre with effect from June 2023.


A small charity with a big impact


The quotes in this potted history are taken from "The Story of Bishop Creighton House" written in 1948 by its first Warden, Catherine Wickham.

Bishop Creighton House Settlement was founded in memory of Bishop Mandell Creighton. Before becoming Bishop of London, he was Canon of Worcester Cathedral and Bishop of Peterborough. He was also a brilliant historical scholar, holding the Chair of Ecclesiastical History at Cambridge from 1884-91, and receiving many honorary doctorates in the UK and overseas. He was a prolific historical author, and for some years edited The English Historical Review.

Dr Creighton became Bishop of London in 1897, and moved with his wife Louise to the Bishop's residence at Fulham Palace. Fulham had been an agricultural district of orchards and market gardens, but gradually the gardens and private estates were bought up by speculative builders. Older houses became insanitary and over-crowded. The Bishop and Mrs Creighton saw this happening round the oasis of Fulham Palace. They realised that the new population was experiencing many of the distresses of East London, with no compensating religious or civic traditions, and the idea of a Settlement came to them.

Bishop Creighton died in 1901, and was buried in St Paul's Cathedral. His monument - by Thorneycroft - stands in the south aisle of the choir.

In 1907 the Bishop's widow, Louise Creighton, found a site for a Settlement in his memory. An appeal was launched and the three houses in Lillie Road were bought. Louise Creighton outlined how the work should be started:

"The Settlement was to serve both Fulham and Hammersmith, the area being pictured not as two boroughs [as in fact they were] but as a network of parishes crying out for workers - many needing new life and ideas.

The Settlement house was to hold eight residents with a domestic staff of two. They were to be either fully experienced or prepared to take all available training, so as to be something like leaven in the neighbourhood. And they were to be the spearhead of a much larger number of part-time volunteers."

1912 - 1920

  • The infant mortality rate was abnormally high in Fulham, and BCH began a crusade which brought into being the Maternity and Infant Welfare Centre in nearby Greyhound Road.
  • In 1912 BCH opened its first Play Centre
  • Settlement workers were used by the Medical Officer of Health for visiting [before the advent of Health Visitors] Settlement residents were "roped in" as School Managers. The first scheme for Children's Care Committees was launched at BCH
  • At the request of the Fulham Board of Guardians, Settlement workers began to visit the Infirmary and Workhouse; they taught children missing schooling through illness, and helped in the after-care of boys and girls leaving the Poor Law Schools
  • BCH worked closely with Miss Arnould who, in her work with physically disabled children and those with learning disabilities, evolved many of the methods later acclaimed in the Montessori system.
  • Staff became involved with the Research Committee of the Christian Social Union to aid investigations into the cause of wage-earning children.

During WW1 Settlement work was affected in a number of ways

  • An outbreak of mob violence towards German shops led to co-operation with the Friends of Foreigners in Distress, in the care of isolated and elderly German women who had not been interned.
  • Through The Prince of Wales Fund, staff did relief work with those thrown out of employment by the war
  • A club was started for the wives of serving soldiers and sailors
  • Settlement staff did outreach work in Fulham Military Hospital

After 1918

  • "One of the most exacting tasks ever undertaken by Bishop Creighton House (or perhaps by any Settlement) was the holding of classes for discharged munition girl workers. These classes, being compulsory and a condition of the "dole" were fiercely resented and the girls were of an incredibly uncivilised type - brutalised by their rough and dangerous work in the munitions factories. [They] had to be kept usefully occupied, from 9 to 5 daily, for many weeks, and every possible helper and device were called into play"

"Juvenile instability and delinquency were also causing alarm ..."

  • A local branch of the national Juvenile Organisations Committee was set up at BCH
  • The Borough Boys' Club was set up at Fulham Baths, run by a Settlement worker five nights a week - except for the summer, when weekend camps and games were arranged
  • BCH was involved in successful campaigns for the education of newly enfranchised women, and for the selection of women candidates for local government elections.

1921 - 1935 Expansion

  • In 1923 BCH bought 370 Lillie Road, together with a small factory behind the Settlement [today called the Garden House, and rented out to a housing association]
  • One of the Invalid Kitchens of London opened in the old factory - for nursing mothers and convalescents
  • BCH opened a Treatment Centre for school children - with clinics for dentistry, eye and ear troubles, and a 'minor ailments' department

"The task of persuading parents to have children's teeth 'tampered with' was eased when they could be invited to the house well known for such pleasant things as play centres and country holidays."

  • An Infant Massage Clinic was established

"The after-care of boys and girls entering industry at the sadly early age of fourteen was a particularly anxious undertaking, every effort being made to link them up with continued education. It was therefore a great delight to open up an Apprenticeship and Skilled Employment Office at the Settlement in 1926"

  • During these years, up to 1,000 children a year were sent for fortnights or months in country homes, through the Children's Country Holiday Fund

In about 1923 "there was increasing anxiety about moral dangers for young people and assaults on children. While backing the demand for women police, we found ourselves taking the lead in the local organising of "vigilance" work and patrolling. Some results were attained in getting improved lighting, closing a drinking club and educating public opinion. But all sorts of difficulties were encountered and that campaign ended after about three years."

"For a long time our workers had had particular heart-searchings over insanitary and often overcrowded housing conditions in the borough, and the unwillingness of the authorities to acknowledge or deal with them. A campaign became practical politics... and a professional survey was set on foot. The consequent report was of explosive material which threatened to ruin our relationship with the Borough Council. The Housing Association was founded to keep the Authorities up to the mark and the Fulham Housing Improvement Society to point the way in both reconditioning and building."

  • The Settlement started day classes in languages and clerical work for young unemployed men
  • A Child Guidance Clinic was established

1940 - 1948

"The immediate effect on the Settlement of WWII can be summed up in the word "Evacuation". Apart from helping in the mass movement of children and mothers, it meant the closing down of all our clinics and play centres as well as of schools."

"The Settlement was besieged by every kind of problem - from the old and the invalid, from husbands and working lads with no-one left to cook for them, people thrown temporarily out of work, complaints about evacuees from their billets and vice-versa. In spite of the generally accepted advice not to assemble people together, the clubs welcomed crowds of young people bewildered by the black-out, and in a general state of nerves."

  • As schools were closed, children began drifting back to the Settlement, where classes were started, and the clinics were gradually allowed to re-open on a small scale.
  • BCH helped to provide rest centres and shelters.
  • Through the Settlement's initiative, 3 Citizens Advice Bureaux were opened in Fulham
  • In 1940 the Settlement itself was bombed, so two adjacent flats were rented, and the work continued while repairs were made.
  • A sub-settlement was started in Ruislip, where much of the Fulham population had been re-located
  • BCH became a centre for students training in professional social work
  • The first local Pensioners' Club opened in 1947

1950s & '60s

  • In 1952 BCH began a new Psychiatric Social Club
  • The Garden House was converted to provide flats for overseas students. Social work students came from America, Nigeria, the West Indies and across Europe to study at BCH
  • BCH began to focus more on work with elderly and disabled people
  • Services include a chiropody clinic, Marriage Guidance Councillors and a range of educational and leisure groups
  • In 1960 BCH became the headquarters of the British Association of Residential Settlements (BASSAC)
  • BCH starts to provide offices for other charities

1970s & '80s

  • A financial advice centre is established in 1973.
  • BCH sets up and runs youth clubs on estates
  • In 1976. A food co-operative is established.
  • In the early 1980's the Keep Warm and Keep Safe Projects are established, installing loft installation, draught proofing and security equipment for old and disabled people.

In June 2023, Bishop Creighton House changed its operating name to The Creighton Centre.

A book that details the history of Bishop Creighton House from 1908 to 2008 is available to buy. Ring us on 020 73859689 to order a copy.

For up to date information on The Creighton Centre today, please go to the What We Do section.

Bishop Creighton House History Book