Eden, in his 1797 survey of the poor in England, reported of Alcester that:
Alcester Poor Law Union was formed on 31st May 1836. Its operation was overseen by an elected Board of Guardians, 29 in number, representing its 22 constituent parishes as listed below (figures in brackets indicate numbers of Guardians if more than one):
Alcester (4), Arrow, Aston Cantlow, Bidford, Coughton, Exhall, Great Alne, Haselor, Ipsley, Kinwarton, Moreton Baggott, Oversley, Salford, Sambourn, Spernhall, Studley (2), Weithley (Weethley), Wixford.
Worcestershire: Abbots Moreton, Feckenham, Inkberrow or Inkborough, Oldberrow.
The population falling within the union at the 1831 census had been 15,923 with parishes ranging in size from Weithley (population 34) to Feckenham (2,762) with Alcester itself having a population of 2,405. The average annual poor-rate expenditure for the period 1834-36 had been £6,593.
The Alcester Union workhouse was built in 1837 at site to the east of Alcester on the south side of Kinwarton Road. It followed the popular cruciform or "square" layout with an entrance block at the front, behind which lay the four accommodation wings radiating from a central hub, creating four yards for the different classes of pauper (male/female, old/young). The location and layout of the site is shown on the 1904 map below.
The entrance block, which housed the Guardians' board-room, clerk's office, etc., was ashlar-faced, the stone having — as the prominent inscription proclaims — been given by Sir Charles Throckmorton Bart.
A small infirmary block was added at the east of the site, and was extended southwards in 1879.
A much larger infirmary was erected at the south of the site in 1899-1900.
A chapel was erected to the west of the workhouse.
The former workhouse, later became Alcester Hospital, and the later infirmary block is still in use. The main buildings, now known as Oversley House, were converted to residential use in 1984.
Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals. Before travelling a long distance, always check that the records you want to consult will be available.
- Warwickshire County Record Office, Priory Park, Cape Road, Warwick CV34 4JS. Holdings include: Guardians' minute books (1859-1930); Admissions and discharges (1902-32); Births (1836-68); etc.
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