Workhouses operated at Cranbrook from around 1723, at Goudhurst from 1725, and at Davington by 1748 (Hitchcock, 1985).
A parliamentary report of 1777 recorded parish workhouses in operation in Boughton under the Blean (for up to 40 inmates ), Buckland (10), Faversham (70), Linsted [Lynsted] (100), Sheldwich (16), Stone (20), and Throwley (12).
Gilbert Unions were formed by Faversham in about 1790, and also by Selling, and by Teynham and Linstead.
Ospringe had a purpose-built parish workhouse from 1792 located at Painter's Forstal.
Selling had a building variously described as almshouses and workhouse cottages at Hogben's Hill. The U-shaped building, is now known as The Square and has been converted into eight cottages.
A large house dating from 1587 situated on Lynsted Bogle Road was once used as Lynsted's parish workhouse.
A house at the north side of Workhouse Road in Throwley was the parish workhouse. The property is still known as the Old Workhouse.
Faversham Poor Law Union officially came into existence on 25th March 1835. Its operation was overseen by an elected Board of Guardians, 26 in number, representing its 25 constituent parishes as listed below (figures in brackets indicate numbers of Guardians if more than one):
County of Kent: Badlesmere, Boughton-under-Blean, Buckland, Davington, Doddington, The Ville of Dunkirk, Eastling, Faversham (2), Goodneston, Graveney, Hernhill, Leaveland, Linstead [Lynsted], Luddenham, Newnham, Norton, Oare, Ospringe, Preston-next-Faversham, Selling, Sheldwich, Stalisfield, Stone-next-Faversham, Teynham, Throwley.
The population falling within the Union at the 1831 census had been 14,845 — with parishes ranging in size from from Buckland (population 15) to Faversham itself (4,429). The average annual poor-rate expenditure for the period 1831-4 had been £17,957 or £1.4s.2d. per head of the population.
The Faversham Union workhouse was erected in 1836 at a site to the west of Faversham. The design, by John Day, was an adaptation of the courtyard plan devised by Assistant Poor Law Commissioner Sir Francis Head. This type of layout, in which an outer perimeter of buildings enclosed a large inner courtyard, was employed by a number of Kent Unions including Blean, Bridge, Eastry, East Ashford, Hoo and Maidstone. In 1835, the Poor Law Commissioners authorised an expenditure of £6,360 on construction of the building which was to accommodate 500 inmates. The workhouse location and layout are shown on the 1907 map below:
The former workhouse buildings have now been completely demolished and a housing estate was erected on the site in around 1995.
Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals.
Kent History and Library Centre, James Whatman Way, Maidstone, Kent ME14 1LQ
- Faversham Gilbert Union: Minutes (1790-97); Ledger (1823-34); Relief list (1829-35).
- Faversham Poor Law Union — holdings include: Guardians' minutes (1835-1930, with gaps); Ledger (1835-1930, with gaps); Births (1891-1915); Deaths (1835-66); Creed register (1869-1905); Admissions and discharges (1835-1929); Indoor relief books (1836-48); Punishment books (1852-1937); Register of children boarded out (1910-29); Register of girls sent to service (1913-26); Paupers' friends (1902-29); etc.
- Faversham Union Workhouse: The Early Years 1836-1850 by John Stevens (2003, Faversham Society, Faversham Paper No. 80.
- Ospringe Workhouse Admissions and Discharges 1805-08 & 1827-35 by Ray Godfrey (Faversham Historical Research Services who also offer a research service on inmate admissions/discharges).
- Hitchcock, T.V. (1985) The English workhouse: a study in institutional poor relief in selected counties. l695-l750. (DPhil thesis. University of Oxford.)
Unless otherwise indicated, this page () is copyright Peter Higginbotham. Contents may not be reproduced without permission.