Papers of Marjory Allen, Lady Allen of Hurtwood (1897-1976), landscape architect, campaigner for pre-school education and promoter of child welfare

Scope and Content

Papers include various Adventure Playground Associations, International Playground Association: 'Newsletter'; articles and addresses on playgrounds and facilities; photographs and press cuttings;

Preferred citation: Lady Allen of Hurtwood Papers (MSS.121), Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick.

Administrative / Biographical History

Marjory Allen (nee Gill), landscape architect, campaigner for pre-school education and promoter of child welfare, was born on 10 May 1897. After taking a horticultural diploma course at University College, Reading, between 1918-20, she worked as a landscape gardener during the 1920s and 1930s, and was elected the first fellow of the new Institute of Landscape Architects in 1930. She served as the vice-president of the Institute of Landscape Architects between 1939-46.

From the 1940s onwards, Lady Allen became increasingly interested in child welfare. Her official posts included chairman (1942-48) and president (1948-51) of the Nursery Schools Association of Great Britain; founder-president of the World Organisation for Early Childhood Education; and chairman of the United Nations Children's Fund (1950-51). Her campaigning focused on the plight of children in institutions and the inner-cities, and promoted the idea of adventure or junk playgrounds; it also proved instrumental in the passing of the Children's Act in 1948. Lady Allen died on 11 April 1976.

Marjory Gill married (Reginald) Clifford Allen (1889-1939) on 17 December 1921. Clifford Allen was secretary and general manager of the 'Daily Citizen' newspaper between 1912-1915, and was 3 times imprisoned as a conscientious objector during the period 1916-1917 - resulting in permanent damage to his health. He served as treasurer and chairman of the Independent Labour Party (ILP), and returned to publishing in his role as director of the 'Daily Herald' between 1925-1930. His involvement with the Labour movement was brought to an end by his support for the National Government of Ramsay MacDonald in 1931. Clifford Allen accepted a peerage in 1932 to become Baron Allen of Hurtwood. Despite condemning Nazi brutality and anti-semitism, Lord Allen's strong pacifist beliefs led him to champion appeasement with Germany during the 1930s.

Reference: Chris Cook and David Waller, 'The Longman Guide to Sources in Contemporary British History 2: Individuals' (Longman, 1994); 'Dictionary of National Biography'.

Access Information

This collection is available to researchers by appointment at the Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick. See

Other Finding Aids

Custodial History

The papers were purchased by the Centre, shortly before Lady Allen's death in 1976. Several albums of press cuttings relating to Lady Allen and her husband, 1st Baron Allen of Hurtwood, were transferred to the Centre by their daughter in April 1994.

The bulk of Clifford Allen's papers can be found at the University of South Carolina.