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  • Day114

    Southwell Victorian Workhouse

    September 14 in England ⋅ ⛅ 63 °F

    This austere building is the best preserved example of workhouses that were all over the country. It was built in 1824 as a place of last resort for the destitute. Anyone who requested admission was accepted. It was designed to be decent and safe, but plain, boring, and difficult. Although it was harsh, conditions may have been better than on the outside. At least they had three meals per day and their health was looked after.

    People were segregated. Able-bodied men were on one side, and able bodied women on the other. The old and infirm were in the middle, and the children's wing was at the back. Everyone received two sets of clothes and their own clothes were labeled and kept for their departure. They could have no belongings--there was no space allowed for them.

    All the work (gardening, food preparation, laundry, building maintenance, caring for the infirm, etc.) was done by the able-bodied men and women, supervised by the master and matron, who also lived in the middle.

    Children were required to get an education, as that was to break the cycle of poverty. They learned the four Rs in the morning (reading, writing, arithmetic, and religion) and learned skills in the afternoon.

    This was not a forced arrangement. If someone wanted to leave, they could at any time, with permission. It was supported financially by the "poor tax".
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