The Workhouse evokes the grim Victorian world of Oliver Twist, but its story is a fascinating mix of social history, politics, economics, architecture, and institutional medicine and nutrition. This site is dedicated to the workhouse — its buildings, inmates, staff and administrators, even its poets. Use the the Search box above or the red Menu button side menu bar to find information.
Great new project underway at Guildford Spike to rearch biographies of inmates in Guildford workhouse in 1881 census — see the highlights so far. New local volunteers welcome.

I recently visited the old workhouse at Framlingham Castle, Suffolk to talk to Josie Long for the English Heritage podcast series 'Speaking with Shadows'. This episode, which looks at the evolution of poor laws as well as the birth of modern health and social care, is now available from the main podcast providers e.g. Spotify.

NEW! Workhouses of Wales and the Welsh Borders. This fully illustrated book is the first to tell the story of the workhouse across the whole of Wales, together with the border counties of Cheshire, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Shropshire. Where were all the buildings, what happened to them and where are their records? Were there differences between the workhouses in England and Wales? And how did some parts of Wales resist the introduction of the workhouse until the 1870s? More...

Nobody's Child: The True Story of Growing up in a Yorkshire Children's Home — Gloria Urquhart's utterly compelling memoir of growing up in the 1950s in the care of Leeds Council, and the search for the baby brother she was separated from when he was three. By turns heart-rending and heart-warming, you will find that Nobody's Child is a book you just can't put down. More...

Read the workhouse site-visit reports of reform campaigner Joseph Rowntree and and those of the magazine contributor Emma Brewer.

New! Some of my introductory talks are now on my YouTube Channel

The Victorian Slum: Common Lodging Houses and Model Dwellings

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Know about workhouses? — try the Workhouse Quiz.

NEW! — Discover the wealth of information recorded by workhouse inspections and visitors.

For information on 1000s of children's homes, orphanages, reformatories, industrial schools, training ships etc. visit

Explore a workhouse — take the Workhouse Tour!

An 1861 survey detailed all 14,216 adult workhouse inmates in England & Wales resident for over five years. All the names can be viewed via a link in the 'Inmates' section towards the end of each union's individual page.

Workhouses of London and the South East documents the story of the workhouse in the capital and the historical counties of Berkshire, Kent, Middlesex, Surrey and Sussex. Includes a guide to the establishments that operated in each locality and over 100 illustrations of the buildings and their inmates. More...

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