The Workhouse: The People, The Places, The Life Behind Doors

The Workhouse: The People, The Places, The Life Behind Doors

by Simon Fowler


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'The stories of those who lived in the shadow of the workhouse'

During the nineteenth century the workhouse cast a shadow over the lives of the poor. The destitute and the desperate sought refuge within its forbidding walls. And it was an ever-present threat if poor families failed to look after themselves properly. As a result a grim mythology has grown up about the horrors of the ‘house’ and the mistreatment meted out to the innocent pauper.

In this fully updated and revised edition of his best-selling book, Simon Fowler takes a fresh look at the workhouse and the people who sought help from it. He looks at how the system of the Poor Law – of which the workhouse was a key part – was organized and the men and women who ran the workhouses or were employed to care for the inmates.

But above all this is the moving story of the tens of thousands of children, men, women and the elderly who were forced to endure grim conditions to survive in an unfeeling world.

'A poignant account ... draws powerfully on letters from The National Archives ... [Simon Fowler] brings out the horror, but it is fair-minded to those struggling to be humane within an inhumane system,' The Independent

'A good introduction,' The Guardian.

The history of workhouses and poverty ('misery history') has recently been prominently covered on TV shows like WDYTYA? and ITV's Secrets from the Workhouse, and referenced in historical dramas like The Village and Ripper Street.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781783831517
Publisher: Pen and Sword
Publication date: 12/03/2014
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Simon Fowler is a professional writer, researcher and historian, specializing in family and military history. He has made a particular study of the First World War, and has long been interested in how Britain, and Europe, readjusted to post-war conditions. Daniel Weinbrens PhD concentrated on the impact of the First World War on British society. His historical publications include The Open University. A History and The Oddfellows 1810-2010. He has taught courses on war and society at several universities and currently teaches this subject at The Open University.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements vi

Preface vii

A Note on Monetary Values and Poor Law Administration xv

Chapter 1 The World of the Workhouse 1

Chapter 2 The Life Behind Doors 28

Chapter 3 Working for the Workhouse 50

Chapter 4 'Fit for purpose' - the Able-bodied Poor 71

Chapter 5 Suffer the Children… 103

Chapter 6 The Sick and Aged 126

Chapter 7 Casuals in the Workhouse 156

Appendix I Workhouse Museums 172

Appendix II Using Workhouse Records 174

Bibliography 182

Index 191

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Workhouse: The People, the Places, the Life Behind Doors 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Davidgnp on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this simply because a passing reference to workhouses in a TV documentary pricked an interest which I was keen to follow. The book does not disappoint - its descriptions of conditions in many workhouses are more powerful for being presented in an unfussy and unsentimental way, with judicious use of quotations from primary sources. I imagine a serious researcher would have been happier with footnotes and detailed references, but these were unnecessary for my purposes. I would have liked a more extensive treatment of the twentieth century workhouse experience, but I'm sure I'll find this by following some of the useful suggestions for further reading.Reviewer David Williams writes a regular blog as Writer in the North.