Reginald Kennedy-Cox

Colonel Sir Reginald Kennedy-Cox CBE was a dramatist and social reformer most associated with the Malvern Settlement and Docklands Settlement in Canning Town, London.

He went to Malvern and Hertford College, Oxford. He was initiated by the Apollo University Lodge No 357 whilst he was up at Oxford.

Coming down he had some success with plays he had written in London, notably at the Colosseum and the Royalty theatres. At the same time he started to volunteer at the Malvern Settlement and in 1907 Kennedy-Cox formally joined the staff of the Settlement.

The Mission was one of a number of social projects supported by the public schools and universities and colleges to support and improve the conditions of the inner city working classes in the days before the Welfare State. The Malvern Settlement was a pioneer in this area, the first of the public school missions and settlements.

The Great War intervened and Kennedy-Cox was commissioned into the Hampshires and later served with KRRC. He was Mentioned.

After the Armistice he returned to the Settlement as Warden, a role he held at the Foundation of the Lodge. The Malvern Settlement had become Docklands Settlement No 1 and he used his personal private financial means to develop and expand it into Millwall, Rotherhithe and Stratford. He was knighted for his work and welcomed ()

Sir Reginald adopted a local orphaned boy, John James Rising and brought him up, but sadly he would die in the blitz. Sir Reginald became the legal guardian of his grandson after the war.

The Settlements too were affected by the Blitz, with large amounts of damage, not to mention the human toll. Sir Reginald returned to the colours as a colonel and served with Southern Command as a welfare officer and was given the CBE.

The condition of the settlement after the war brought him our of retirement to help its reconstruction, but with the creation of the Welfare State the role of these settlements, always a Christian inspired one, became more overtly and solely missionary in motivation and so they changed, refocused on social, sporting and cultural facilities over the ensuing 50 years. The echoes of the Malvern Settlement today lie in the Mayflower Family Centre in Canning Town and the River Church and Centre.

Malvern severed ties with the Settlement in 1956.

Sir Reginald had made his home away from Canning Town in Salisbury. He became chairman of the Salisbury Arts Theatre Board and was appointed Governor of Malvern College.

Sir Reginald died in 1966.

Photo Credit: Sir Reginald Kennedy Kennedy-Cox by Bassano Ltd. Half-plate film negative, 19 February 1938. Given by Bassano & Vandyk Studios, 1974
Photographs Collection
NPG x155326

Copyright: National Portrait Gallery