Make the most of your visit

Beamed room with boards depicting workhouse life

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 and received 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.

Please be aware The Workhouse has been closed for the winter. We re-open for the new season on Saturday 8 February 2020.

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.

We also offer Becher walks on selective dates. This walking tour of Southwell is one of our Workhouse Live experiences and is guided by Reverend Becher who founded The Workhouse. See our What’s on page for more details.  


Finding your way

Watch this short film to see the route from the main car park and Visitor Reception Building to the Visitor hub building.

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 how past inmates were treated. You can then explore the main Workhouse building, chat to room guide and learn about those who lived and worked here. You will also be able to visit the newly restored infirmary, Firbeck House.

A digital label point in The Workhouse building
Eating and drinking props laid out on a workhouse table
A digital label point in The Workhouse building

February half term 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 this half term and with the newly conserved Firbeck Infirmary there's no better time to visit.

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. 

The Workhouse vegetable barrow
A selection of vegetables on The Workhouse barrow
The Workhouse vegetable barrow
A girl weighs out potatoes on a victorian scale

Explore The Workhouse as a family this February half term

Bring the family and experience a full programme of living history events and exhibitions at The Workhouse.