Working lives in the Midlands

Volunteers at The Workhouse

Discover what life was like for people in the Midlands during the 19th and 20th centuries.

In a day

Morning: Mr Straw’s House 
Begin the day with a glimpse into the ordinary life of a grocer and his family in this near-perfect time-capsule of middle England in the 1920s. Book the special interest tour ‘An Ordinary Life’ and you’ll discover within the walls of this very ordinary semi-detached home a world where nothing has been thrown away and where a family lived without the modern comforts we take for granted today. 
Stop at the Hardwick Estate, where you can enjoy lunch in the licensed restaurant at Hardwick Hall. If you have time, book in to visit Stainsby Mill on the Estate to discover the workplace of a 19th-century miller. 
Afternoon: The Workhouse, Southwell 
Explore the most complete example of a workhouse in existence today, uncovering the 19th-century inhabitants’ lives and the thought-provoking conditions of living in poverty. Book the ‘Introduction to the Workhouse’ special interest tour and experience the segregated dormitories, dayrooms, Master’s quarters and cellars, stepping outside to see the recreated working kitchen garden.

Turn your visit into a short break by adding:

  • a day trip to Lincoln or Nottingham.
  • the ‘Stable Yard and Stonemason’s Yard Tour’ at Hardwick Hall to learn more about the how the estate supported the house and local communities and the traditional craft of stonemasonry still practiced on site.
  • a visit to Clumber Park, once the country estate of the Dukes of Newcastle.

Stop en-route at:

  • Calke Abbey, just 20 minutes off the M1, to discover the tales of an eccentric family who amassed a vast collection of hidden treasures.