Sunley House

1976 brick-built flats on site of George Yard Buildings, later Balliol House/Charles Booth House. Demolished for Toynbee redevelopment 2016

George Yard Buildings
Contributed by amymilnesmith on July 17, 2016

After a round of slum clearances, a model lodging house was built around 1875 in George Yard on the site of New Court and a former timber yard. It was located just before the western corner of George Yard and Wentworth St.

In 1890, the dwellings were converted to lodging for the students living and working at the Toynbee Hall settlement. It was first renamed Balliol House and then Charles Booth House.

George Yard Buildings were demolished in January 1973 along with neighbouring St. George's House, both being replaced by Sunley House, itself under demolition in November 2016 as part of the Toynbee Hall estate redevelopment.

The Barnetts, Toynbee and Balliol House
Contributed by Survey of London on April 17, 2018

East End historian and guide David Charnick on the work of the Barnetts.

Well, this site here, currently demolished, was, as you say occupied by some red-brick buildings but before then, this is where Balliol House stood which used to be George Yard dwellings. We just passed the Canon Barnett School. Samuel Barnett, with his wife Henrietta, they were the force behind the establishment of Toynbee Hall in 1884. He came to the area in 1872 to become vicar of St. Jude's Church which has long since been demolished, that's approximately across the street from where we're standing now, so just to the south of Toynbee Hall.

Samuel Barnett was a major figure in the area in terms of philanthropy and relief. One of his areas was housing. He was one of the people behind the East End Dwellings Company whose first block of tenements was in Aldgate. This was what was called model dwellings or we would call social housing. The house that used to occupy the space here was originally George Yard Dwellings which was philanthropic housing.

[There was a] church was just across the way from where we're standing now so just to the south of Toynbee Hall. Oxford University was behind Toynbee Hall but a lot of the work was provided by volunteers. These were, as I mentioned, students who would take a year after their study. They would come here and stay for the year. They would engage themselves in outreach locally through what we would call adult education. They [organised] free courses for local people to do, and a variety of things.

The outreach was provided here by volunteers as I say, and they were students of Oxford University and therefore able to offer a variety of teaching and perhaps most interestingly, they had groups here that they would take on visits to overseas. There was a basket maker from Spitalfields who was on one of these trips to Italy, and he ended up being Cambridge University's first professor of Italian which is quite a leap forward from being a basket maker. There was a huge impact locally from Toynbee Hall.

Oxford University were behind it, yes, but there would have been various sources of revenue. Philanthropists in Victorian times, many of them had limited means. They may have had some means but largely limited. Samuel Barnett himself, he was just a Church of England vicar so he had no particular wealth behind him. Just a social vision as indeed did his wife Henrietta, in fact they met at a birthday party for Octavia Hill who was herself a major philanthropist and was behind a scheme for model dwellings or they say social housing as we would call it now.

David Charnick ( was speaking to Shahed Saleem on 23.02.18. The text has been edited for print.

Amateur film about George Yard Buildings and its Jack the Ripper connection

This atmospheric (if rather shaky) amateur footage by a Jack the Ripper tour guide, takes us from Whitechapel High Street, showing a number of buildings altered or demolished since it was shot in 2008, through the arch at 88 Whitechapel High Street and down the full length of Gunthorpe Street.

Contributed by Aileen Reid on Sept. 12, 2016