Re-Imagining The Workhouse, Southwell

Peeling ceiling in Firbeck Infirmary

The Workhouse aims to reinforce and re-establish the role that this property should play in society today.

What is the Re-imagining project? 

The new 21st century Workhouse will move, teach and inspire, as we encourage the debate around poverty and social care both then and now, with the opportunity for visitors and communities to contribute to the site’s evolving content.

The Workhouse opened in 2002, engaging visitors and telling the powerful story of how society has tackled issues of social care since the Victorian times. This conservation and visitor experience project involves the re-presentation of The Workhouse to engage our visitors and explore themes of welfare throughout 200 years of history.

Old light bulb on windowsill in Firbeck House
Old light bulb on dusty windowsill in Firbeck
Old light bulb on windowsill in Firbeck House

What will be different for visitors?

  • Re-created historic spaces to include re-dressed, multi-sensory rooms and exhibition spaces which tell the story of The Workhouse. 

  • The previously unexplored Firbeck Infirmary (alongside The Workhouse building) will be brought into the visitor experience, bringing the site right up to living memory having provided social housing up to the 1980s. Both floors will be accessible with the installation of a lift.

  • A new orientation space which describes the separation of families within The Workhouse and how they were categorised.

  • Visitors will experience The Workhouse building as the property was designed (where men, women and children were segregated).

  • A relocated library within Firbeck Infirmary will now be open to the public, giving an opportunity for visitors to share and capture stories of local descendants.

  • Multi-media hand held devices which allow the visitor to delve deeper into the stories within The Workhouse and interact with the space around them.

  • Regular programming of events making them relevant to visitors and the society we live in today.

Looking into the courtyard from one of The Workhouse windows
Vistors in the courtyard of The Workhouse
Looking into the courtyard from one of The Workhouse windows

When will it be open?

Join us in spring 2019 at the new and improved Workhouse as we invite visitors to share their own experiences and to be involved in today’s debates around poverty and welfare. The property remains open until we close for the end of season in November. 

There will be opportunities for visitors to book onto hard hat tours of the infirmary during the reconstruction work. Watch this space for when these tours are running.

A two storey portacabin on site at The Workhouse

The Workhouse Re-imagining Project

Keep up to date with the latest news and updates about this project