The workhouse, as described by Reverend J.T. Becher in The Antipauper System (1828, 2nd edition 1834), was the answer the British government provided in the 19th century to the problem of caring for those unable to care for themselves.
“The advantages resulting from Workhouses arise, not from keeping the poor in the Workhouse, but from keeping them out of it, by making the inferior classes feel how demoralising and degrading is the compulsory relief drawn from the parish. When the poor of the Parish are discontented we offer them an order for admission into The Workhouse, and we hear no more complaint.
Males, females, and children are separated from each other on admission. The apparel of the poor is purified, ticketed, and deposited in the care of the Master. They are then dressed in the clothing of The Workhouse until their discharge, when they resume their own Clothes.
Paupers, except the very aged and infirm, wear clogs with wooden soles, instead of shoes. These are more economical; they are of very little use if carried away; and, if tendered for sale, excite suspicion. They do not injure even the tender feet of children…
Proceed to our Workhouse. Observe the decency, cleanliness, and comfort, pervading every part; you will not then hesitate to pronounce every such establishment an Hospital for the infirm, an Asylum for the Aged, a School for the Young, but a Terror to the Idle and Dissolute!”Home »