Lady Allen Trust

Lady Allen Trust: Discovery of Creative Play

New Perspective and New Possibilities

Lady Allen gained a whole new perspective on what children wanted to play with. A shiny new playground with everything in its place was not attractive to the children. Their imagination was sparked more so with nothing more than junk.

The parameters of these “junk playgrounds” allowed the children to dig, build and experiment. Adventure and creative play were significant factors in developing the playgrounds.

The First “Junk” Playground

Emdrup, Copenhagen was the home of the first “junk” playground. Lacking any man-made structures, this playground was built with junk materials. Children played in this playground where they could stretch their imaginations.

Emdrup playground proved to be the beginning of many to come.

Moving On

Lady Allen went on to sell her home and moved into a new house which she renovated and built a garden around. During this time she wrote several books about gardening. Again, her attention was drawn back to the playgrounds for children.

She began a new campaign to produce “adventure” playgrounds based on the Emdrup playground.

The campaign for Adventure Playgrounds

It was time to move forward with plans and development of Adventure Playgrounds. The process of negotiations, dealing with neighbors that did not support the idea and the fundraising presented challenges. The first Adventure Playground opened welcoming children.

These playgrounds were at full capacity as children rode trolleys down slopes, used sticks and such to dig, creative play was in full force with an atmosphere that was friendly and happy.

Many more of these unique playgrounds followed and are now adopted in the design concept of playgrounds worldwide.

The Vision Fulfilled

Lady Allen’s vision to provide children with a place to play was realized. Her legacy thrives throughout the world with the theory of play that is evident in playgrounds. Children’s play had returned to a more organic root and is not forced, but rather allowed to bloom.

Read about Our Lady Allen

Lady Allen Trust: The Plight of the Children

Following the Passion of Gardening


Marjory Allen (Lady Allen) was a passionate leader who carried the joy of her childhood forward in her work. Her skills and talent in gardening placed her in the eye of the public as her reputation preceded her accomplishments.

Creation of Play Parks


Lady Allen designed play parks throughout the world. Her vision was to create environments that fostered child’s play while incorporating her love and designing skills in gardening.


Upon the death of his husband, she threw herself into work and the war effort as a means of distraction and healing from his death. Her best friend helped her to stay busy by planning the design of children nurseries to be established all over the U.K.


In doing so, she became the Chair of the Nursery School Association. She and her peers developed, designed and fabricated easy to erect nurseries complete with staffing, toys, and furniture.


The Discovery of Suffering


During her work, Lady Allen discovered the suffering of orphan children while in the care of the state. The wretched living conditions these children were living in were not being monitored. After seeing the cruel and harsh environment the orphans were subjected to, she sought to bring about awareness to the public by contacting the local media.

One such case of abuse these children were living under was Dennis O’Neill. He endured abuse that was fatal because of the foster home he was in and the lack of supervision from the state.


Lady Allen wrote and published an awareness pamphlet called “Whose Children” which had factual information on the system’s failure to protect these children. As a result, a law was passed (Children’s Act 1948.) Fifty years after the law went into effect, the “Universal Nursery Education” was founded by Lady Allen.


Following her Passion


Marjory Allen made it her passion and life’s work to spread awareness for the advocacy of children. Awareness peaked as a result of a documentary film that was created by J. Arthur Rank highlighting Lady Allen’s children’s nurseries.


Rank went on to make hundreds of films that were targeted towards children. These films became the foundation for the Children’s Film Foundation of which Lady Allen was Chair of. One particular film by Rank sparked a movement. His film “Double Thread” personified the plight of children.


The Design of Play


The success of Lady Allen’s work in helping displaced children led to the request of her becoming a part of the European Initiative. This group was devoted to finding a way to provide the security and education for orphaned children as well as those that were displaced from the Holocaust.

Traveling through Europe with a stop in Copenhagen, Lady Allen visited the Froebel Institute to view a prospective new play area. While there she met Architect C. Sorenson.  He was unhappy with the design of the playgrounds he created. He noticed the children playing more on building sites as opposed to playgrounds that were finished, neat, and tidy. The building sites were messy with junk strewn about. It was amazing how the children loved this.


Based on this discovery of what the children prefer to play with, he began to design playgrounds centered on what the children played with more.

Junk served as tools the children used to create and invent. Sorenson went on to create more and more playgrounds based on the “messy and junky” playground concept.


Taking a bold step, he designed a playground full of junk on a small parcel of land. Lady Allen witnessed a “flash of understanding” from this junky playground.  The world of play was transformed by providing the children with what they wanted to play with.


Creative play required nothing more than simplicity!

Read about Lady Allen

Lady Allen Trust: Patroness of Play Theory

The Promoter of Child Welfare


Her Excellency, Lady Marjory Allen of Hurtwood U.K. was an infamous advocate for children. She embodied forward-thinking about the theory of child’s play while bringing about change in society’s stance on the welfare of children.

Who is Lady Allen?


Marjory Allen grew up in the country on a small farm in Kent, U.K. with her parents and four brothers. The water company employed her father while her mother was a homemaker.


Marjory’s childhood was memorable and full of play. She roamed the countryside around the farm, and she lovingly recalls the freedom she had to explore and play.


Her father and mother were founding members of a camping group as a result from her family camping every summer on the coast. She can recall the stormy nights spent in the tent while lightning and thunder surrounded them. To divert their minds from the storm, she invented a game called “Boules.” This game involved scouring the shore for round pebbles and chunks of beautiful rocks and such. This simple game was the first of many that she created that later became part of her theory on play.


During her time on the farm, Marjory came down ill and was bedridden. Her brothers made a contraption of mirrors to allow her to see the garden. This gave her a window to the world while stuck in bed. Not only did her brothers care about her, but their creative ideas for play contributed to Marjory’s theory towards playtime.

She and her brothers played in the nearby ponds and fields building dens and huts and pretending to be fun and interesting characters. Their imagination was limitless in creating an alternate world within the land that surrounded their farm.


Farm chores were more fun and play than boring for her and her siblings. The children learned the craft of growing beautiful flowers and vegetables while making butter and cheese from the milk they got from their cows. The smells and sights of the farm and country are pressed upon her memory which she treasured immensely.


What is Lady Allen Trust?


It was later in her adulthood that she took her life experiences, pleasures and memories from her childhood and focused on developing a fundamental theory of play for children worldwide.


Her platform served as the foundation in establishing the mystery and enchantment that served as the basis of playtime for children. This platform became known as “The Lady Allen Trust.” A truly valuable perspective that has been adopted by parents, groups, and countries worldwide regarding playtime for children.

Read About Marjory Lady Allen of Hurtwood