childrenshomes.org.uk Info on 1000s of former homes

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.

Please check opening details with museum before travelling a long distance!

ENGLAND - arranged by county
Weaver Hall Museum & Workhouse (formerly the Salt Museum)
162 London Road, Northwich 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.
Vestry House Museum
Vestry Road, Walthamstow, London E17 9NH. (website)
Tel:+44 (0)208 496 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
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.
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.
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.

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