After last week’s post about the Workhouse and my visit to the National Trust’s property of Southwell in Nottinghamshire, I was really pleased to have feedback from some of you about finding your own ancestors in the workhouse.
Then on Tuesday night there was the first part of the “Secrets from the Workhouse” programme on ITV. Fantastic timing for me. And I also had the chance to recognise that much of the interior and exterior of Southwell House had been used in the filming of the show, to add atmosphere.
On my visit I had been struck at how much smaller the rooms were than I had somehow expected to find. Also shocking was the basic lack of privacy that the inmates would have had to suffer in the confined space that they would have found themselves.
I could quite understand how, being on top of each other, that these people could end up fighting with each other as was evidenced by examples of records on display in the museum.
The food was not of the highest quality, but for someone who had no other means to feed themselves, was at least available to them inside the institution. Breakfast was Milk Gruel and bread. The amount each inmate got depended on if they were an adult male, adult female or a child.
Lunch on a Sunday, Tuesday and a Thursday included 5 oz of meat for the adults and 4 oz for the children. To this was added 16 oz of potatoes and 5-6 oz of bread for the adults and less for the children. Supper was yet more Gruel and bread.
On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays the hapless inmates had no meat or potatoes, but simply a broth for lunch and on Saturdays they had Suet pudding instead!
That was, of course, unless part of it was stopped as a punishment.
In the records on show it was possible to see that certain inmates were stopped their meat or broth as a punishment for fighting and given 8 oz of bread or 1 lb of potatoes instead. You really do have to feel sorry for them.
There is much more on workhouse records in my new course on English Family History Research at: www.FamilyHistoryResearcher.com