History

The Workhouse since 1824

The architecture of hope or despair? © David Slaviero

The architecture of hope or despair?

The Workhouse was designed by a local minister, the Reverend J. T. Becher in 1824. His aim was to provide an economic model for helping the poor whilst reducing the burden on local tax payers. 

Over the years, the Workhouse has continued to shelter those in need. Even in the 1980s, the site was used as a residential home for the elderly.

Life inside the Workhouse

Entering the Workhouse represented a loss of freedom, identity and privacy. Those who could, were made to work. Despite the tough conditions, life may have been a lot more comfortable than on the outside.

Punishment and paupers

Workhouse inmates were bound to obey a strict set of rules, which were displayed on the wall. Masters were able to impose a range of punishments but for serious offences, inmates were judged by the Board of Guardians.

The Workhouse concept

In 1824, the Reverend J. T. Becher designed and built a building that would change the treatment of the poor for ever. Discover the principles upon which the Workhouse was founded and how paupers lived within its walls.

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