This summer, play like a Victorian at The Workhouse

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Pauper children in The Workhouse had few opportunities to play. Our records show that some provision was made for shuttlecocks and battledores for the girls and hopscotch and pole ropes for the boys. Today there are lots of opportunities for children and families to experience Victorian play. Get involved in a range of activities, both indoors and outdoors, during a visit to The Workhouse this summer.

The Victorian playground

Hoops and sticks were very popular in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and newspapers raged against 'The Hoop Nuisance' on the streets. Hoops were regularly confiscated by the police!

No such action will be taken at The Workhouse today where children will be able to try out these and other games during the summer. Skipping ropes, hoop and sticks and cup and ball, will be available outside. Or, let off steam with a sack race or hopscotch on the field.

Try your hand at hoop and stick
Young girl plays with hoop in Workhouse children's yard
Try your hand at hoop and stick

Workhouse Live 

During the summer holidays there is a packed programme of activities. ‘Workhouse Live’ is a series of living history events aimed at engaging our younger visitors, taking them back in time and giving them a taste of what was life was like growing up in The Workhouse. On Wednesdays and on Bank Holiday Monday, visitors will find inmates telling their stories and carrying out their daily jobs throughout The Workhouse. Go back to school at The Workhouse, write on a slate, learn to count but don't even think about misbehaving! 

On Fridays visitors can join a family-focussed ‘Pauper’s yarn’ tour and hear more about life in the institution. Finally, on Saturdays, paupers will be outside in the flourishing kitchen garden as they help visitors select fresh produce to take home. Check our 'What’s On' page to plan your visit’.

Workhouse re-created Victorian vegetable garden
Workhouse vegetable garden in summer
Workhouse re-created Victorian vegetable garden

Firbeck Infirmary 

This summer visitors to The Workhouse, will for the first time be able to see inside the infirmary that served the inhabitants. Firbeck infirmary, built in 1871, provided medical care for The Workhouse. In the 1970s it became a care ward and closed its doors in the 1980s, lying untouched for the following decades.

This newly conserved building will tell the story of how the infirmary cared for people when it first opened in the 1870s, through to its final residential use. It also houses a library and a new exhibition ‘Trust New Art at The Workhouse.’ Visitors will have a chance to see the work in progress of a new significant contemporary art piece. Displayed and hosted at The Workhouse, this commission is through the lens of young people with a range of abilities.

The newly conserved Firbeck Infirmary
Front view of Firbeck Infirmary
The newly conserved Firbeck Infirmary


Ever wondered what happens behind the scenes at The Workhouse? This is an opportunity to come and see ‘What’s in Store’ and learn how the conservation team care for The Workhouse and its collections as well as a chance to see some rarely seen objects.

Writing set belonging to Rev Becher, founder of The Workhouse
Inkwell and stand belonging to Rev Becher founder of The Workhouse
Writing set belonging to Rev Becher, founder of The Workhouse

So why not plan your visit and get the whole family involved this summer? Keep an eye on our 'What’s on' page for full details of all the events taking place.