About Me

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I currently live in Birmingham and come from Solihull. I have a love of all things crafty, developed from my mom's love of crafts as I was growing up. I currently work in marketing, but I'm a qualified Aromatherapist, and use to be self employed alongside a day job, might one day return to that. I try to fit in crafts when I can, I wish I had more time and money to spend on it! I enjoy researching my family history and finding out about the past. It can get frustrating, but is really rewarding when you have a break through! I hope to meet people with similar interests as me and swap advice/stories.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

The Workhouse

Has anyone seen Secrets of the Workhouse on ITV? Well, it's been interesting to see what exactly went on (mostly quite horrifying), the treatment of people... in some ways they had a potentially good idea for a place the poor (completely destitute) people could go, but I think a lot of 'looking down' on people and social rebuking, not dealing with the root problem, but getting it 'out the way' took over and led to a great fear of being in the workhouse.

Through my family history research I have found a few members linked to the workhouse. As yet I haven't seen records as to why they were admitted, but my great x2 grandmother was born in St Luke's workhouse infirmary and my great x3 grandfather died in Shoreditch workhouse aged 80.

I have gone into more detail with tips on tracing your own relatives on my family history page.

Descriptions of the workhouses are generally dire, as well as the areas surrounding them where people lived in lodgings, however it may have appeared to those creating the workhouses that were offering a lot to the poor:

Workhouses varied enormously in size, with the smallest such as Belford in Northumberland housing fifty inmates, while the largest such as Liverpool could be home for several thousand. However, all workhouses were essentially a self-contained — and often largely self-supporting — community. Apart from the basic rooms such as a dining-hall for eating, day-rooms for the elderly, 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, workshops, nurseries, infirmary and fever wards for the sick, a chapel, and a dead-room or mortuary. Workhouses were also highly compartmentalised to separate the various classes of inmates, with the yards between the various buildings being divided up by eight-foot-high walls.
Quoted from http://www.workhouses.org.uk/life/inside.shtml

Layout of St Luke's c1873

St Luke's Workhouse, London c1879

These large imposing & foreboding buildings went through great overhauls until it was acknowledged this was not the way to help the poor. Great injustices were committed and the stigma of the workhouse lives even to this day - we all know it's a place you want to avoid.


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