The Bede Story

For over 80 years, Bede has worked to help Southwark people thrive. But our story begins even earlier…

1883 - Victorian social reformers Samuel and Henrietta Barnett founded the first university settlement at Toynbee Hall, in the East End


A new form of charity work launches as Samuel and Henrietta Barnett pioneer London’s settlement movement. This sees volunteers from privileged backgrounds come to live among and assist low-income communities.

1885 - Clare College, Cambridge opens a mission in Bermondsey and helps support Bede. This continues to today with internships and this recent choral event held in a local church


Clare College, Cambridge opens a mission in Bermondsey. It goes on to support Bede from the charity’s earliest days. Today, this link continues through internships and choral events.

1938 - Bede House, with its name taken from the 8th-century scholar the Venerable Bede, is founded in a former bakery in a corner building on Southwark Park Road, Bermondsey


Bede House is founded as a new settlement when Bermondsey’s Princess Marie Louise Settlement closes. Bede raises £400 to buy a former bakery that remains its main office to this day. The new charity is named after the Venerable Bede. This 8th-century scholar lived in Jarrow, a port area similar to Bermondsey and Rotherhithe.

1939-45 - Bede House plays a vital role as a WW2 communications centre with help from local Scouts


Bede House serves as a communications centre during World War II. One of the few local places with a phone, it plays a vital role when Bermondsey and Rotherhithe suffer heavy bombing.

1945 onwards - From a skyline once full of cranes, Bede sees the closure of the nearby docks and helps unemployed dockers, and others in the community

1945 onwards

The London docks begin to close and new buildings replace damaged homes. At this time of social change Bede helps unemployed dockers, war veterans, families and young people.

1948 - Bede takes over Lady Gomm House and hosts youth events, here showing teenagers from the 1950s playing in a band


Bede takes over former hospital Lady Gomm House to host youth clubs and events.

1970 - Bede opens a purpose built centre and expands its range of community activities


The purpose-built Bede Centre replaces Lady Gomm House. Bede can now expand its range of community activities.

1971 onwards - Moving from a Christian oriented to a secular organisation, professional staff and volunteers run the charity


Bede changes from a Christian-orientated to a secular organisation. Professional staff and volunteers now run the charity. Adult education becomes an important service.

1980s onwards - Bede develops its community services to include people with learning disabilities such as our client at work in our kitchen

1980s onwards

Bede continues to develop its community services. The charity has always worked with young people and older residents. Now it adds support for those with learning disabilities and sufferers of domestic abuse.

2008 - The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service was presented to Bede for its Inside Outside service, where volunteers with learning disabilities help local housebound residents


Bede receives the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service for its Inside Outside Project. Volunteers with a learning disability and housebound local people come together to help one another.

2013 - Bede House's work received a Southwark Civic Lifetime Achievement Award


Bede is honoured to receive a Southwark Civic Lifetime Achievement Award. This marks its long commitment to the Old Metropolitan Borough of Bermondsey.