The Chapel at Oxford House. Oxford House ©
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Bethnal Green’s Oxford House marks 140 Years with festival and exhibition

Oxford’s House ‘History House 140’ festival celebrates the East End with some unmissable cultural events. Here’s our pick.

Bethnal Green’s Oxford House celebrates its 140th anniversary this June with a weekend festival and a six-month-long exhibition exploring the history of the East End.

Established in 1884 by Oxford University students, Oxford House was the first Settlement House in the UK. It began as a hub for social reform to tackle urban poverty.

The weekend exhibition will feature walks, talks, performances, a pop-up cinema, family activities, and workshops to highlight the voices and stories of East London.

Visitors can explore ‘History House 140’, an exhibition showcasing the history of the East End, from urban poverty reform to working-class activism. The festival will take place this weekend with the exhibition running until December. 

‘We’re proud to celebrate our ongoing relationship with the East End,’ said John Ryan, CEO of Oxford House. ‘The History House 140 exhibition and festival tell our story in fabulous detail.’

On Friday, June 7th, you can join the special screening of Mark Jay’s documentary East Endings. 

Documenting a night at Blooms Kosher restaurant in Whitechapel, the film celebrates the social history of the Jewish East End. Until its last branch closed in Summer 2010, it was the longest-standing kosher restaurant in England and was well-known beyond the Jewish community.

Saturday night features a Cockney Sikh Takeover with 1970s tunes and performances curated by East Ender Suresh Singh. Born and bred in Spitalfields, Singh will give you the low down on life in the East End as a Sikh during the 1970s.

For those who prefer the outdoors, join the Walking Tour: The Ballad of Bethnal Green on Saturday, June 8th. Join Alan Gilbey at 11 am or 2 pm for a 60-minute stroll through local history.

The pop-up cinema in Oxford House’s recently renovated Victorian Chapel will screen rare shorts and documentaries, showcasing the East End’s diverse history and culture.

Finally, The History House 140 Exhibition, which runs from 6 June to 20 December will transform Oxford House’s gallery into an interactive narrative of East End social history, featuring unseen archives and new short films.

It will include a new digital archive of 10,000 items from 1884 to the present, such as WWII photographs and material on 1970s working-class movements, making Oxford House’s rich history accessible to all. 

“Explore the story of Oxford House and the communities of Bethnal Green,” urged John Ryan. “You won’t be disappointed.”

Visit Oxfordhouse.org.uk for more info.

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy: Oxford House: John Ryan on the Renovation plans

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