Workhouses Are Not Nice


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Information on workhouses. Ideal for the study of A Christmas Carol.

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Workhouses Are Not Nice

  1. 1. The 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act
  2. 2. <ul><li>15,000 or so parishes of England and Wales were divided into new administrative units called Poor Law Unions each run by a locally elected Board of Guardians. </li></ul><ul><li>The funding of each Union and its workhouse continued to come from the local poor rate. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Why did people enter the Workhouse? <ul><li>People ended-up in the workhouse because they were too poor, old or ill to support themselves. This may have resulted from such things as a lack of work, or someone having no family willing or able to provide care for them when they became elderly or sick. </li></ul><ul><li>Unmarried pregnant women were often disowned by their families and the workhouse was the only place they could go during and after the birth of their child. </li></ul><ul><li>The mentally ill and mentally handicapped poor were often consigned to the workhouse. </li></ul><ul><li>Workhouses, though, were never prisons, and entry into them was generally a voluntary although often painful decision. </li></ul>
  4. 6. Entering the Workhouse <ul><li>Entering would have been a distressing experience. New inmates would often have already been through a period of severe hardship. </li></ul><ul><li>Upon entering the workhouse, paupers were stripped, bathed (under supervision), and issued with a workhouse uniform. Their own clothes would be washed and disinfected and then put into store along with any other possessions they had and only returned to them when they left the workhouse. </li></ul>
  5. 7. Workhouse Uniform <ul><li>For the men this consisted of jackets of strong 'Fernought' cloth, breeches or trousers, striped cotton shirts, cloth cap and shoes. </li></ul><ul><li>For women and girls, there were strong 'grogram' gowns, calico shifts, petticoats of Linsey-Woolsey material, Gingham dresses, day caps, worsted stockings and woven slippers. </li></ul>
  6. 9. Classification and Segregation <ul><li>Workhouse inmates were strictly segregated into seven classes: </li></ul><ul><li>Aged or infirm men. </li></ul><ul><li>Able bodied men, and youths above 13. </li></ul><ul><li>Youths and boys above seven years old and under 13. </li></ul><ul><li>Aged or infirm women </li></ul><ul><li>Able-bodied women and girls above 16. </li></ul><ul><li>Girls above seven years old and under 16. </li></ul><ul><li>Children under 7 seven years of age. </li></ul>
  7. 10. <ul><li>Husbands, wives and children were separated and could be punished if they even tried to speak to one another. </li></ul><ul><li>From 1847, married couples over the age of sixty could request to share a separate bedroom. </li></ul><ul><li>Children under seven could be placed (if the Guardians thought fit) in the female wards and, from 1842, their mothers could have access to them &quot;at all reasonable times&quot;. </li></ul><ul><li>Parents could also have an &quot;interview&quot; with their children &quot;at some time in each day&quot;. </li></ul>
  8. 11. Inside the Workhouse <ul><li>The workhouse was like a small self-contained village. Apart from the basic rooms such as a dining-hall for eating, and dormitories for sleeping, workhouses often had their own bakery, laundry, tailor's and shoe-maker's, vegetable gardens and orchards, and even a piggery for rearing pigs. There would also be school-rooms, nurseries, fever-wards for the sick, a chapel, and a dead-room or mortuary. </li></ul>
  9. 14. The Daily Routine <ul><li>  Wake up: 6-7am </li></ul><ul><li>Breakfast: 6.30-7am or 7.30-8am </li></ul><ul><li>Work begins 7am or 8am </li></ul><ul><li>One hour for dinner </li></ul><ul><li>Finish work: 6pm </li></ul><ul><li>Supper 6-7pm </li></ul><ul><li>Bed 8pm </li></ul>
  10. 15. Rules and Regulations
  11. 16. Punishments <ul><li>Elliott, Benjamin Neglect of work 31 st May 1842. Dinner withheld, and but bread for supper. </li></ul><ul><li>Greenham, Mary and Payne, Priscella Quarreling and fighting 14 th Dec 1842. No meat 1 week. </li></ul><ul><li>Bartlett, Mary Breaking window 21 st Mar 1843. Sent to prison for 2 mths. </li></ul><ul><li>Park, James Deserted, got over wall 4 th Sep 1843. To be whipped. </li></ul>
  12. 18. The Workhouse Diet <ul><li>The diet fed to workhouse inmates was often laid down in meticulous detail. For example, the workhouse rules for the parish of St John at Hackney in the 1750s stipulated a daily allowance of: </li></ul><ul><li>7 Ounces of Meat when dressed, without Bones, to every grown Person, 2 Ounces of Butter, 4 Ounces of Cheese, 1 Pound of Bread, 3 Pints of Beer </li></ul>
  13. 22. Work <ul><li>In 1888, a report on the Macclesfield workhouse found that amongst the able-bodied females there were: </li></ul><ul><li>21 washers, 22 sewers and knitters, 12 scrubbers, 12 assisting women, 4 in the kitchen, 4 in the nursery, and 4 stocking darners. </li></ul><ul><li>On the men's side were 2 joiners, 1 slater, 1 upholsterer, 1 blacksmith, 3 assisting the porter the tramps, 6 men attending the boilers, 3 attending the stone-shed men, 4 whitewashers, 4 attending the pigs, 2 looking after sanitary matters, 1 regulating the coal supply, 18 potato peelers, 1 messenger, 26 ward men, 2 doorkeepers. </li></ul><ul><li>There were also 12 boys at work in the tailor's shop. </li></ul>
  14. 25. Leaving the Workhouse <ul><li>Any pauper could, on giving three hours notice, leave the workhouse. Short-term absence could also be granted to an able-bodied pauper seeking work. </li></ul><ul><li>Many inmates were, however, to become long-term residents of the workhouse. A Parliamentary report of 1861 found that, nation-wide, over 20 percent of inmates had been in the workhouse for more than five years. These were mostly consisted of elderly, chronically sick, and mentally ill paupers. </li></ul>
  15. 26. Death in the Workhouse <ul><li>If an inmate died in the workhouse, the death was notified to their family who could, if they wished, organize a funeral themselves. If this did not happen, which was often the case because of the expense, the Guardians arranged a burial in a local cemetery or burial ground. </li></ul><ul><li>A few workhouses had their own burial ground on or adjacent to the workhouse site. The burial would be in the cheapest possible coffin and in an unmarked grave, into which several coffins might be placed on the same occasion. </li></ul><ul><li>Under the terms of the 1832 Anatomy Act, bodies unclaimed for forty-eight hours could also be disposed of by donating them for use in medical research and training. </li></ul>
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