Cowart's Common Room
How can we moan?....

.....Or rather why do we moan?Yesterday I spent the day at the archives in Shrewsbury going through the workhouse records."Tragic" is the only way to describe them.In one of the Guardians minutes books there was a discussion on the diets of the elderly people in the workhouse.A doctor was arguing his case that the old paupers should be given a cup of beef broth once every two weeks to sustain them as so many were ending up in the infirmary emaciated.Beef tea was 4s a gallon but invalid bovril was only 1s 8d a gallon.They were normally fed gruel in the morning and turnip or swede soup with a piece of bread for their tea.Reluctantly the decision was made on the bovril once every two weeks.In winter they were also made to get up at 6.15am instead of 6.45am so that they could get the maximum hours work out of them. One of the saddest things was reading that the clothes from the deceased paupers was recycled and this was usually the only record of their death.There is no real poverty in this country these days compared to then.

Posted at 15th Nov 2008 - 07:48PM   Posted by Lawyerlady   How can we moan?.... Comments: 3

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LittleBrownDog's Avatar Gosh - what an eye-opener Shocked. What kind of dates are we talking about here? I'm imagining Victorian times. I'm also doing some research on agricultural labourers in the early 19th century, and it really does put things into perspective. They'd start the day at 6ish (tho' how they knew what time it was I don't know - no clocks, you see) with something called Kettle Broth, which was basically bread with a bit of hot water poured on. If they had enough wood to get a fire going. I bet there was no problem with obesity in those days. Sad

Posted by: LittleBrownDog on 15th Nov 2008 at 07:57PM

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Lawyerlady's Avatar It is 1900 to 1910.The letters refusing the mothers the right to enter the workhouse with their children are heartbreaking too.Can you imagine having to let your children go into that hellhole so they can survive and having to stay away from them.They wanted to discourage people from going into the workhouse,I'd say that was a result for them.

Posted by: Lawyerlady on 15th Nov 2008 at 08:18PM

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Salle de Bain's Avatar We have a workhouse near us that is being restored. On the upper floor are rows of little wooden platforms where the children slept. I felt so moved the first time I saw them.

It's not all doom and gloom though...I recently found records detailing some of the things the children got up to there....games, practical jokes, music concerts, christmas celebrations etc...

I know that's not always the case though.....

I always feel sad when reading the census returns, and find a family is all together at home in one census, and then all split up and on the workhouse rolls in the next. It makes you wonder what happened to change their fortunes in the course of a decade....

Good luck with your research...it's addictive isn't it!

Posted by: Salle de Bain on 15th Nov 2008 at 09:12PM

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