Visit a Workhouse Museum!

Although the Workhouse Web Site provides a vast amount of information about workhouses, there's nothing like exploring a real workhouse building to get a first-hand idea of what they were like. The best way to do this is to visit one of the museums now housed in a former workhouse.

In case of any recent amendments, please always check
opening details with each museum when planning a visit.

ENGLAND - arranged by county
Weaver Hall Museum & Workhouse (formerly the Salt Museum)
162 London Road, Northwich, Cheshire CW9 8AB. (website)
Tel:+44 (0)1606 271640. Open Tues-Sun plus Bank Holiday and August Mondays, all year round. Admission charge.
 
The former Northwich union workhouse is now home to the Weaver Hall Museum. The museum features a Victorian workhouse school-room and board-room pluse displays about its workhouse history, local history and archaeology. Special exhibitions, children's events etc.
Red House Museum and Gardens
Quay Road, Christchurch, Dorset BH23 1BU. (website)
Tel:+44 (0)845 603 5635. Open Tues-Sun, all year. Free admission.
 
The former Christchurch parish and union workhouse. As well as recording its workhouse past, this lovely building (dating from 1764) has a wide range of displays exploring the social and natural history of the area.
Vestry House Museum
Vestry Road, Walthamstow, London E17 9NH. (website)
Tel:+44 (0)20 8496 4391. Open Weds-Sun, all year round. Free admission.
 
Built in 1730 as the Walthamstow parish workhouse. Though not focusing specifically on its workhouse past, the museum has displays exploring the local and social history of the area. The garden contains plants known to be grown by workhouse inmates in the 18th century
Cinema Museum
2 Dugard Way (off Renfrew Road), London SE11 4TH. (website)
Tel:+44 (0)20 7840 2200. Pre-booked tours only — see website. Admission charge.
 
The museum is located in the Master's House of the former Lambeth workhouse on Renfrew Road, where future film star Charlie Chaplin spent some time in 1898.
Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse
Gressenhall, Dereham, Norfolk NR20 4DR. (website)
Tel:+44-(0)1362 860563. Open February-October. Admission charge.
 
The former Mitford & Launditch union workhouse. A large museum and farm with a sequence of rooms vividly portraying "the workhouse experience" including a punishment cell. Many other displays relating to rural Norfolk life.
The Workhouse
Upton Road, Southwell, Nottinghamshire NG25 0PT. (website)
Tel:+44 (0)1636 817 260. Open March-October. Admission free to NT members.
 
The former Southwell union workhouse and influential in the formulation of the post-1834 workhouse system. Run by the National Trust, it describes itself as "the best-preserved workhouse in England". Excellent audio guide.
Guildford Spike
Warren Road, Guildford, Surrey GU1 3JH. (website)
Tel:+44 (0)1483 598 420. Open Tuesdays/Saturdays (other times by arrangement). Admission charge.
 
Tramps' block of the former Guildford union workhouse. This unique building features original tramp cells and stone-breaking equipment, and the infamous "mutton broth" baths.
Ripon Workhouse Museum and Garden
Allhallowgate, Ripon, North Yorkshire HG4 1LE. (website)
Tel:+44 (0)1765 690 799. Open April-October, plus February half-term. Admission charge.
 
The entrance block and tramp ward of the former Ripon union workhouse. Highlights include original tramp cells, Guardians' board-room, and huge workhouse garden planted in period style.
Nidderdale Museum
5 King St, Pateley Bridge, North Yorkshire HG3 5LE. (website)
Tel:+44 (0)1423 711 225. Open daily Easter-October, then weekends only. Admission charge.
 
The former Pateley Bridge union workhouse. A museum of rural life in Nidderdale. Exhibits include: cobbler's workshop, school room, Victorian parlour, general store, costumes, history of transport in the Dales.
Thackray Medical Museum
141 Beckett Street, Leeds LS9 7LN. (website)
Tel:+44 (0)113 244 4343. Open daily all year round. Admission charge.
 
Although housed in the former Leeds Union Workhouse, the Thackray Museum is devoted to the not unrelated subject of the history of medicine from 1842 until the present day. Lots of hands-on exhibitions.
WALES
Llanfyllin Workhouse Museum
Y Dolydd, Llanfyllin, SY22 5LD. (website)
Tel: 01691-649062. Open daily 10am-5pm. No charge for entry though donations most welcome
 
The former Llanfyllin union workhouse. Has introductory dramatised documentary film, visitor or family trail around the workhouse building, collection of historical dcuments etc.
IRELAND - arranged by county
Dunfanaghy Workhouse Heritage Centre
Figart, Dunfanaghy, County Donegal, Ireland. (website)
Tel:+353 (0)74 9136 540. Open all year round. Admission charge.
 
The entrance blocks of the former Dunfanaghy union workhouse. Exhibits explore the story of the workhouse and the famine.
Donaghmore Famine Workhouse Museum
Donaghmore, Portlaoise, County Laois, Ireland. (website)
Tel:+353 (0)86 8296 685. Open every day June-September, then mostly just weekdays. Admission charge.
 
The former Donaghmore union workhouse. A virtually complete and unaltered Irish workhouse, complete with original sleeping platforms etc. Also exhibits relating to the famine and rural life.
Irish Workhouse Centre
Ceaders Avenue, Portumna, County Galway, Ireland. (website)
Tel:+353 (0)90 9759200. Open daily during August 2011, then from April till October 2012.
 
The former Portumna union workhouse. Now exensively renovated and refurbished to its original structure.
DENMARK
Svendborg Forsorgsmuseet (Social Welfare Museum)
Grubbemøllevej 13, 5700 Svendborg. (website)
Tel:+45 6221 0261. Open all year, Tues-Sun, 13.00-16.00. Admission charge.
 
The museum is located in Denmark's last surviving workhouse building, establishd in 1872 to house up to 80 paupers and finally closing its doors in 1974. The museum shows how Denmark treated its most vulnerable citizens through the ages. A highlight is the original mat-weaving workshop.
Flaskepeters Samling
Smedegade 22, 5970, Ærøskøbing. (website)
Tel:+45 8155 5972. Open June-October, 11.00-15.00 (10.00-16.00 mid-season). Admission charge.
 
A ship-in-a-bottle exhibition, located in the former Ærøskøbing poorhouse.
AUSTRALIA
Migration Museum / Destitute Asylum
82 Kintore Avenue, Adelaide, 5000, South Australia. (website)
Tel: +61 (08) 8207 7580. Open daily, 10.00-17.00. Free.
 
From 1851 to 1918, the Destitute Asylum was Australia's only ever workhouse-style institution, housing the aged and infirm, the sick and convalescent, people with disabilities, orphaned and neglected children, and pregnant women. The Migration Museum, located in the Asylum's only surviving block, has a permanent exhibition on its story.
CANADA
Wellington County Museum, Ontario
0536 Wellington County Road 18, Fergus, ON N1M 2W3. (website)
Tel: +1 519-846-0916. Open daily except government/statutory holidys — Mon-Fri: 09.30-16.30, Sat-Sun: 13.00-17.00. Free.
 
The Wellington County Museum and Archives is located in the oldest remaining House of Industry and Refuge in Canada.
USA
Greene County Historical Society Museum
918 Rolling Meadows Road, Waynesburg, PA 15370. (website)
Tel: +1 (724) 627-3204. Open Easter-October, Tues-Sat, 10.00-17.00; rest of year by appointment. Admission charge.
 
A 52-room museum of local history set in the former Greene Hills Poor Farm, plus a restored cabin, an agricultural barn, a print house and a railroad house.
Lake County History Center
15 Riverside Drive, Painesville, OH 44077. (website)
Tel: +1 (440) 639-2945. Open Tuesday-Saturday 12.00-16.00. Admission charge.
 
The History Center occupies a building constructed in 1876 as the County Poor House. Visitors can see much of the original home, cells, cottage hospital and outbuildings.
78th Street Heritage Farm
1919 NE 78th Street, Vancouver, WA 98665. (website)
Tel: +1 (564) 397-5733. Free.
 
The former Clark County Poor Farm — an interpretive trail through the 79-acres site reveals the experiences of local pioneer settlers and poor farm residents.

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