The Capper Nomads Europe Adventure travel blog

Southwell Workhouse

In the yard where males would work

The segregation room of the workhouse

One of the stairs

Along the corridor

In the kitchen

Original paintwork in the workhouse

Reconstructed sleeping arrangement

Another example of the paint work

Southwell Minster

Another view of the minster


Despite the weather forecast saying it would be cloudy but dry, guess what it rained heavily all morning. After lunch we headed out to the small town of Southwell, Nottinghamshire to visit the Workhouse. This was definitely a different National Trust property.

The workhouse was built in 1824. The workhouse was a means of providing relief for the Victorian poor Prior to this period parishes had the responsibility under the Elizabethan Poor Law to provide support or relief to the poor within the parish either in their homes or in almshouses, orphanages, poor houses, or hospitals. However by the early 1800s providing relief to the poor was very expensive and many felt the system was being abused by the able body poor who did not work. Many believed that poverty was the result either of idleness or of a personality defect. Consequently, it was thought that the poor should be encouraged to find work or be 'taught the error of their ways'.

The Southwell Workhouse was a new approach working on the basis the people in the workhouse would work hard and was intended to deter the poor from seeking parish relief and hence reduce the poor rates. The Southwell Workhouse was cited by the Royal Commission on the poor law and their recommendations formed the basis of the resulting New Poor Law of 1834 which led to the construction of similar run workhouses across the country.

We learnt about the Reverend Becher founder of the workhouse and as we toured the building we learnt about how the poor were treated in the workhouse. Men, women and children were separated on entry, only got meat three times a week the rest of the time was gruel or bread, required to work. It was a hard life.

It was a thought provoking tour as both of us had worked in hospitals where some of the buildings were old workhouses. It was a part of history we knew little about except through Charles Dickens.

From the workhouse we decided to go into Southwell and discovered a huge church, the Southwell .Minster and a quaint town. After a walk around the town and the outside of the Minster we had a look inside the church. The church guide allowed us to take Daisy inside the church. She was very well behaved. The main part of Minster was built in 1108 hence Norman but then extended and altered in the 1234. Hence the Minster is both Norman and early Gothic.

An interesting day.



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