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.



Life in the workhouse: everything you wanted to know — in this new BBC History Magazine podcast, I answer a wide range of questions about the workhouse, from daily routines, whether inmates really ate gruel, and how long people stayed there. LISTEN NOW.

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 www.childrenshomes.org.uk


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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