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Workhouses
 What was a
   Workhouse


History of the
   Workhouse

Life in the
   Workhouse

Work in the
   Workhouse

Food in the
   Workhouse


Extract from
   When I was a
   Child by
   Charles Shaw

Regulations
   of the Spittals
   Workhouse

  
Workhouses - What was a Workhouse?
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A print of Chell Workhouse, circa 1839.

A print of Chell Workhouse, circa 1839.


The workhouse was 19th century England’s attempt to solve the problem of poverty.
England at this time was a thriving industrial centre, but there was still a huge growth in the population that meant thousands of people lived in poverty.
Hunger, disease and squalor were a part of everyday life for so many. The government decided to try to stop this and make the country a better place for the poor to live in.
Following on from the
1601 Poor Law Act, the 1834 Poor Law Act was passed. In it was the instruction to all unions to build a place in which all their poor could be housed.
Workhouses were originally meant to be places where the poor could work in return for food and board but the workhouse was not a place of comfort for those who were forced to enter them. Instead they were institutions of terror, in which inmates were harshly treated, put to work and made to suffer for being a burden. They were essential being punished for being poor, and the workhouse served as a deterrent to being poor.