Mahatma Gandhi stayed at Kingsley Hall at Bromley-by-Bow for three months in 1931, spinning cotton and negotiating India's future
Almost within a stone’s throw of the River Lea, Kingsley Hall at Bromley-by-Bow became Mahatma Gandhi’s home for three months during 1931 when he attended the Round Table Conference on the future of colonial India. Invited to stay there by Muriel Lester, Gandhi wanted to live with the poor as he did in India. He was welcomed to the East End and met local families who remember the visit well.
Gandhi always travelled with a handloom and a spinning wheel so that he would not be reliant upon the colonial masters for his clothing, effectively creating his own textiles cottage industry. Gandhi spun fabric for an hour every day in his “cell” at Kingsley Hall. He was recognised throughout the world by his hand spun dhoti, the same simple clothing that many men wore in Indian villages. It was his uniform of protest. The motif of the spinning wheel became part of the Indian flag.
Gandhi left his spinning wheel to Kingsley Hall when he returned to India. It is a privilege for it to be loaned as part of the Raw Materials: Textiles exhibition.
Share your story
Do you have a story that relates to this history? At Bow Arts we're collating people's memories of these iconic places and items. To share yours, please leave a comment. You can also reply to other people.