Wem, Shropshire

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Up to 1834

A parliamentary report of 1777 recorded parish workhouses in operation in Wem (for up to 30 inmates) and Preese (60 inmates).

After 1834

Wem Poor Law Union was formed on 16th November 1836. Its operation was overseen by an elected Board of Guardians, 16 in number, representing its 12 constituent parishes as listed below (figures in brackets indicate numbers of Guardians if more than one):

County of Salop: Broughton, Clive, Grinshill, Ightfield, Lee Brockhurst, Loppington, Moreton Corbet, Prees (3), Shawbury, Stanton-upon-Hineheath, Wem (3), Weston and Wexhill-under-Redcastle.

The population falling within the Union at the 1831 census had been 11,353 with parishes ranging in size from Lee Brockhurst (population 150) to Wem itself (3,973). The average annual poor-rate expenditure for the period 1834-36 had been £4,018 or 7s.1d. per head of the population.

The Wem Union workhouse was erected in 1837 at Creamore to the north of Wem and was designed by Mr Graham. The Poor Law Commissioners authorized an expenditure of £2,800 on its construction which was to be for 200 inmates, although the final capacity appears to have somewhat less — 95 according to Kelly's 1891 directory. It followed a somewhat irregular plan around a central courtyard. The site location and layout are shown on the 1924 OS map by which time the workhouse had become known as Wem Poor Law Institution:

Wem workhouse site, 1924.

Wem entrance block from the east, 2001.
© Peter Higginbotham.

Wem south-east wing from the north-east, 2001.
© Peter Higginbotham.

The former workhouse site later had a number of uses including a chicken farm. It is currently used as a care home for the elderly.


  • 1851 — Master: Mr Rowley; Matron: Mrs Rowley
  • 1881 Census



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.

  • Shropshire Archives, Castle Gates, Shrewsbury, Shropshire SY1 2AQ. Please note that records may contain gaps or have access restrictions - please check before visiting. Holdings include: Guardians' minutes (1836-1918); Relief order books (1871-1912, with gaps); Ledgers (1837-1930); Farm and pig accounts (1904-35); etc.


  • None.


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