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Marjory Allen, Baroness Allen of Hurtwood

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The Lady Allen of Hurtwood
Marjory Gill

(1897-05-10)10 May 1897
Bexleyheath, Kent, England
Died11 April 1976(1976-04-11) (aged 78)
Other namesJoan Allen
Occupation(s)Landscape architect, child welfare campaigner

Marjory Allen, Baroness Allen of Hurtwood, JP (née Gill; 10 May 1897 – 11 April 1976), known to her friends as Joan, was an English landscape architect and promoter of child welfare.

Early life and education


Marjory Gill was born in Bexleyheath, Kent.[1] Her brother was Colin Gill and her cousin was Eric Gill. She was educated at Bedales School and University College, Reading, where she took a diploma course in horticulture. In 1921 she married Clifford Allen, a leading member of the Independent Labour Party who had been imprisoned as a conscientious objector in World War I.



Marjory Allen worked as a landscape architect throughout the 1920s and 1930s and was elected the first fellow of the Institute of Landscape Architects in 1930.

Clifford Allen, who had been created 1st Baron Allen of Hurtwood in 1932, died in 1939, and Lady Allen threw herself into her work, also becoming interested in the welfare of children. Her campaigning for children in institutional care led to the passing of the Children Act 1948. She was chairman (1942–1948) and president (1948–1951) of the Nursery School Association of Great Britain, founder president of the World Organisation for Early Childhood Education, a member of the Central Advisory Council for Education (1945–1949), and chairman of the Advisory Council on Children's Entertainment Films (1944–1950). During the Second World War, Lady Allen, with the support of the Home Secretary, Herbert Morrison, with whom she was friends, established a scheme whereby waste material from the bomb sites were turned into children's toys.[2] After World War II she served as a liaison officer with UNICEF in Europe and the Middle East.[3]

She campaigned for facilities for children growing up in the new high-rise developments in Britain's cities and wrote a series of illustrated books on the subject of playgrounds, and at least one book on adventure playgrounds, spaces for free creativity by children, which helped the idea spread worldwide.[4]



In May 2024, a blue plaque was unveiled in Marjory Allen's honour, on the site of her home between 1958 and 1966 at 22 Lawrence Street, Chelsea, London.[5][6]


  1. ^ "Allen, Marjory Gill (1897–1976)". Birth Control International. Archived from the original on 24 November 2016. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  2. ^ Lady Allen of Hurtwood (1975). Memoirs of an uneducated lady: Lady Allen of Hurtwood. Nicholson, Mary. London: Thames and Hudson. p. 157. ISBN 0500011338.
  3. ^ "Allen [née Gill], Marjory, Lady Allen of Hurtwood (1897–1976), landscape architect and promoter of child welfare". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/61348. Retrieved 1 May 2024.
  4. ^ "Lady Allen of Hurtwood archive". National Children's Bureau. Archived from the original on 12 July 2013.
  5. ^ "Minutes of 78th Blue Plaques Panel" (PDF).
  6. ^ "Chelsea: Blue plaque honours playgrounds creator Marjory Allen". BBC News. 1 May 2024. Retrieved 1 May 2024.

Further reading

  • Marjory Allen & Mary Nicholson: Memoirs of an Uneducated Lady: Lady Allen of Hurtwood, Thames & Hudson Ltd, 1975