A row of cottages on The Street in Thakeham was once used a parish workhouse.
In 1789, the Thakeham Gilbert Union was formed by the parishes of Ashington, Findon, Sullington, Thakeham, Washington and Wiston. The union erected a workhouse in 1789-91 at the south side of Rock Road, Heath Common. The 'surveyor' for the construction was was Stephen Rowland.
The Gilbert Union was dissolved and replaced by Thakeham Poor Law Union which was formed on 14th May 1835. Its operation was overseen by an elected Board of Guardians, 16 in number, representing its 14 constituent parishes as listed below (figures in brackets indicate numbers of Guardians if more than one):
Sussex: Ashington, West Chiltington, Coldwaltham, Findon, Hardham, Parham, Pulborough (3), Stopham, Storrington, Sullington, Thakeham, Warminghurst, Washington, Wiston.
The population falling within the union at the 1831 census had been 7,311 — ranging from Parham (population 46) to Pulborough (1,979) and Thakeham (597). The average annual poor-rate expenditure for the period 1832-35 had been £9,796 or £1.6s.10d per head of the population.
The new Thakeham Union continued to use the existing workhouse for the enlargement of which the Poor Law Commissioners an expenditure of £2,355 in 1836. In 1853, it was further enlarged to accommodate 250 inmates. The building had a double-courtyard plan. Its location and layout can be seen on the 1896 map.
In 1930, the site was taken over by West Sussex County Council and operated as a Public Assistance Institution until its closure in 1936 and demolition. A new school was opened on the site in 1940, known in recent times as Rydon Community College.
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.
- West Sussex Record Office, County Hall, Chichester, West Sussex PO19 1RN. Holdings include Gilbert Union minutes and accounts (1789-91); Guardians' minutes (1835-1930); Births (1866-1930); Deaths (1866-1936); etc.
- Higginbotham, Peter Workhouses of London and the South East (2019)
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