St.Peter's Parish Workhouse

  • 20 Mar 2021
  • Church Curiosities
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In 1746, a parish workhouse was set up in a 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 working trades such as 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 was given badge put on sleeve before churchwarden relieves his or his wife'. This refers to the practise 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 1/6d.        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 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. A warrant to apprehend the father  and expenses of constable and assistants in taking him, one pound and eighteen shillings.

A happier occasion is recorded as 'Paid for the ring 4s, License one pound and eight shillings. 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'.