A record living history day

Workhouse inmates ready for inspection by the Medical Officer © The Workshouse, National Trust

Workhouse inmates ready for inspection by the Medical Officer

Latest update 04.01.2013 11:11

Lured out by the bright, sunny and warm day, an astounding 705 visitors came to the Workhouse for our latest Graft, Gruel and Good for Nothings day.

Doing the washing

Visitors had the chance to help the female paupers wash the ever growing pile of laundry, run the washing through the Victorian mangle and scrub the stones with the distinctive pink and smelly carbolic soap. In the Men's Workyard, pauper inmates tackled a pile of stones with lump hammers and in between the usual arguments and fracas, unexpectedly broke out into song. Overseen by Matron in the Kitchen, the female paupers prepared a mountain of pumpkins, cabbages, potatoes, carrots and swedes to feed the Workhouse population and invited younger visitors to help them.

Larking around

Meanwhile, two young pauper boys caused mayhem during their attempted escape from the Committee Room, a reaction to the news that they would be harshly punished for the bad behaviour in the School room. School lessons continued, with the public acting as willing pupils during the 7 lessons taken by Miss Hough and Mr Turnbull. As a reward for their hard work, younger (and older) visitors spent many enjoyable hours in the schoolyard playing with traditional Victorian toys, including skipping ropes, hoops and whips, cup and ball and marbles.

The day concluded with the paupers assembling for the seasonal hiring fair in Southwell. Before they departed for the town, the Medical Officer walked the line, pronouncing the paupers fit or otherwise for work. Woe betide any malingerers!

Going away happy

Here's what some of our visitors thought:
'This was our second visit to the Workhouse and by far the best event we have ever experienced. The addition of so many of your volunteers in period costumes and showing great acting abilities really brought the place alive. We would like to congratulate all of you and thank you so much for a most enjoyable day.'

So, why not come along next time and join in the Victorian fun at Southwell?