The Shadow of the Workhouse, by J.N. Clarke, subtitled 'Operation of the Poor Laws in the Horncastle District of South East Lindsey 1735-1935'
Book published by the Society for Lincolnshire History and Archeaology in 2006, 66 pages. Large softback - c.26cm by 21cm (N4785)
Brand New Book
From the rear side cover: Today the phrases 'On the Parish' and 'Ending up in the Workhouse' are fortunately known only in a historical context, but less than a hundred years ago they were in everyday use. Old age of loss of work through accident or illness brought poverty, and were a constant dread for many families in the countryside.
Legislation from the 16th century made the parish the unit for local adminstration of a national poor law policy. In rural areas such as Lincolnshire, there was a widely differing application of the poor laws by the Overseers.
A solution came in the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act which united groups of parishes into Unions to fund and run a workhouse. The Horncastle Union comprised 68 parishes and elected its first Board of Guardians in January 1837. They commissioned the building of Horncastle Workhouse (designed by George Gilbert Scott), completed in 1838. Fears that workhouse life might be seen as a soft option were countered by strict working regimes and the segregation of men, women and children. Horncastle Workhouse extended its grim shadow over the poor, aged and sick until 1930 when more humanitarian measures were introduced.
This carefully researched book examines the operation of the Poor Laws in the Horncastle area from 1735 to 1935 and gives a vivid account of life in the Horncastle Workhouse between 1838 and 1930.