Determined to bring some relief to slum inhabitants of London’s east end, in 1912 Doris and Muriel Lester started a nursery school on Bruce Road in Bow. Their brother, Kingsley, died in 1914, and left his money to the sisters’ quest. Building upon this donation, funds were raised to enable the construction of Kingsley Hall in 1927. It was designed by Charles Cowles-Voysey, the son of a prominent arts and crafts designer who favoured the pared down classicism of the interwar years. The architecture supported and expressed the spiritualism of Christian philanthropy which underwrote the Lesters’ mission. The main meeting hall was used for religious and community functions while the roof top cells resembled those of a hermitage. Kingsley Hall brought international figures like Gandhi and his followers to the East End, while also becoming a base for Muriel Lester’s later international pacifist campaigns.
Kingsley Hall Community Centre: http://kingsley-hall.co.uk/
The Church and Community Centre: http://www.khccc.com/
On RD Laing’s later use if the Hall as an experimental psychiatric space: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/sep/02/rd-laing-mental-health-sanity