John Scott Lidgett and Bermondsey Settlement

Rev. John Scott Lidgett (1854-1953) established Bermondsey Settlement in 1891. It was to be the only Methodist settlement and provided an opportunity for better-off Methodists to live in a deprived area and to share the lives of people there.

John Scott Lidgett had a vision of the settlement as a ‘community of social workers who come to a poor neighbourhood to assist by methods of friendship and cooperation those who are concerned with upholding all that is essential to the well-being of the neighbourhood’. He argued for stronger action to advance the social, economic and spiritual conditions of the working classes. As well as becoming the Warden of the settlement, John Scott Lidgett was an important Methodist theologian arguing for tolerance and Christian unity. He was a strong advocate of the formation of the Wesley Guild (1890) which became the main means of organizing work with young people within the Methodist Church (the Guild also involved older people). The Guild had 152,000 members in some 2000 groups by 1900.

Lidgett was also recognized as the principal architect of Methodist Union in 1932. Scott Lidgett was not afraid to engage in politics. He became was an alderman on the London County Council and leader of the Progressive Party on the LCC between 1918 and 1928. He was made a Companion of Honour in 1933.

Bermondsey settlement hosted of a range of innovatory work and attracted some significant residents and helpers including Ada Salter, Alfred Salter and Grace Kimmins. The settlement finally closed in 1969.

Picture: Bermondsey Settlement – Southwark Local History Library and Archive.

See: Exploring social action: A walk in Bermondsey and Rotherhithe

© Mark K Smith 2019