Making the most of your visit at The Workhouse

New visitor reception facilities at The Workhouse

This austere building, the most complete workhouse in existence, was pivotal in the development of our national health and welfare system. For decades it was where the poorest in society had to work in return for food, shelter and medical care. Today, we invite you to explore the atmospheric Workhouse building and the kitchen garden, whilst reflecting on its contemporary relevance through a programme of creative activities.

Begin your day with a welcome tour

After being welcomed at the Visitor Reception Building and collecting your site map, you can start your workhouse journey down the Pauper’s Path. Before the house opens, why not join the volunteer-led welcome tour at 11am (numbers limited, non-bookable.) This guided tour explores some of the outside areas not usually seen by the public and is an insightful behind the scenes experience which recalls the history of the surrounding buildings.

Volunteer-led tour at The Workhouse
Volunteer with visitors outside The Workhouse
Volunteer-led tour at The Workhouse

Plan your Workhouse journey

When the house opens at 12noon, begin at the Visitor hub where you will be able to watch an introductory video and collect a digital device. These devices are triggered when held over specific objects within The Workhouse and tell the story of past inmates. You can then explore the main Workhouse building, chat to room guide and learn about those who lived and worked here. From July you will also be able to visit the newly restored infirmary, Firbeck House.

Model of The Workhouse. Image credit: Sue Hartley
Visitors and volunteer viewing model of The Workhouse
Model of The Workhouse. Image credit: Sue Hartley

Seasonal programming at The Workhouse

With our changing seasonal programming, each time you visit The Workhouse, a different experience awaits you.

There is plenty to see and do for all ages. Bring the family and experience a full programme of living history events and exhibitions. Younger visitors can enjoy children’s trails and games, we also run 'Workhouse Live' during the holidays where you will find inmates carrying out their daily jobs throughout The Workhouse. There are opportunities to dress up as pauper boys and girls in specially recreated costumes. Why not get your photo taken while writing on slate in your best copperplate writing and share it with us on social media? 

Visit our 'What’s on' page for full details of all the events taking place. 

A young girl finds the next piece on a trail
Young girl at The Workhouse picking up a doll
A young girl finds the next piece on a trail

Beyond the buildings

Reflect on your visit within our gardens and café. Enjoy the recreated Victorian kitchen garden maintained by volunteers. It is planted with heritage varieties and seasonal produce which is available throughout the year for a donation.

In fine weather you are welcome to picnic, alternatively, you can visit the café for a variety of snacks, warming soup and hot drinks. Every cuppa or tasty treat you buy helps us continue looking after The Workhouse for ever, for everyone. 

Herbs in bloom in The Workhouse garden
Some herbs in bloom in The Workhouse garden
Herbs in bloom in The Workhouse garden