St Peter's Parish Workhouse

  • 15 Jan 2012
  • Worcester People and Places
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In 1746, a parish workhouse was set up in an old half-timbered building in St. Peter's Street, which existed well into the 20th century. Here for £10 per annum, 'a proper person was employed to instruct young persons and others in pareing of leather. gloving, etc'. At that time, Robert Tasker (a good name) was governor, and received £185 p.a 'to keep, lodge and manage the poor'. Records show earlier poor law problems: In 1739, 1s. was 'paid to get a stranger out of the parish troubled with fits', and in the same year, 'Leonard Darke to have badge put on sleeve before churchwarden relieves him or his wife'. This refers to the practice of being forced to wear a large 'P' badge on his arm to show that he was in receipt of parish assistance. Parish Lunatics had the usual barbaric treatment, as shown in the entry: 'Paid for necessaries for Rd. Strayne 1/6. Two hopsacks for a bed tick for him 3/4. Straw for him 6d. Nurse to look after him 1/6d. Paid man to help chain him, with expenses 3s. Two staples, a chain and a lock, 8d'.  A 'shot-gun' marriage is referred to in 1780: 'Paid to Ann Williams - examined on oath touching the father of the child 2s. Awarrant to apprehend father and expense of constable and assistants in taking him, £1 18s. A happier occasion is recorded as 'Paid for the ring 4s. Licence £1 8s. Pd. Parson, Clerk and Sexton 8s. For wedding dinner and drink 11s 6d. In 1770, when plans for a Union Workhouse was mooted, St.Peter's Vestry meeting rejected it 'as unnecessary for this parish'.