‘Suddenly in the sky we saw a small red glow which gradually got bigger. It was a Zeppelin coming down in flames. Everyone cheered and the old man celebrated by drinking all his rum.’

Jasper A S, (1969) A Hoxton Childhood, Barrie & Rockcliff

During both WW1 and WW2, residents living in Hoxton, like those across London and indeed the country, feared the attacks from the air. During WW1, whilst German Zeppelins dropped bombs on the city, Hoxton was never a target and therefore it was left unscathed. However its residents were still embroiled in the war effort, many risking their lives on the front or at home working in munition factories and as a result local families still suffered heart-breaking loss. During WW2 bombs pummelled Hackney, wiping out many local houses and public buildings, including the Britannia Music Hall. During the wartime years May Scott joined Hoxton Hall and it is partly due to her hard work and determination that activities for the local community continued throughout the war offering them a ‘warm and cheerful home’ and the basement as an air raid shelter. Miraculously, the Hall survived WW2 undamaged.

Our collections document activities that were happening at the time and include photos, annual reports and a book about The Bedford Institute’s work during the war. What also survives are a number of letters written to May Scott from various supporters of her work. In them, there is reference to some of the eclectic donations she received over this period, such as flowers from Falmouth and even cake from Australia!

Hoxton Hall has a fully catalogued archive collection based at Hackney Archives in Dalston Library. This archive is accessible to the public during opening hours, with trained staff on hand to help. For how to get there and opening times please see here.

We also have a fully digitised archive available to view by appointment via Hoxton Hall

Discover more about Hoxton Hall’s unique history by downloading the Hoxton Hall Experience app and visiting us. This sensory journey will guide you around the building and immerse you in Hoxton Hall’s past through a combination of digital and live installation.

Hoxton Hall Experience>>

Arts based Heritage events and workshops take place throughout the year. Whether it’s taking part in arts and crafts family activities or dancing your socks off at a good old fashioned tea dance our heritage activities offer something for everyone and are designed to excite and engage the local community in the rich and varied history of the hall and its locality. Check out DO and SEE

Hoxton Hall: A short history of Hoxton Hall and its locality

Cload, P. (2008) Hoxton Hall 1983 to 2008 – A Personal History – The launch of Hoxton Hall as a Community Arts Centre

Available for purchase at Hoxton Hall reception