Lacock Workhouse, Wiltshire England
Built in 1833 by John Gale and George Banks, this structure served as a workhouse for the village of Lacock. Workhouses, such as this one, provided poor folks with a proper household in exchange for a full day's work. Now the building serves the community as a pottery shop and a B&B. This former workhouse stands as a tangible reminder that we ought to build well for all people. Rich and poor alike deserve dignified dwellings. "A person is a person, no matter how small." How easy it would have been to throw together a few stick shacks for the poor in Lacock! Instead of a liability, this small community invested in an heirloom. Nearing 200 years old and still going strong. It is also worth mentioning that descendants of both Gale and Banks live in the village. Below is an excerpt from the 49th volume of the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine that provides a bit of insight into the operation of a country workhouse.
"Among the documents in the church chest is a copy of the 'Rules and Regulations for the Workhouse, Lacock', in the handwriting of John Talbot, Esq., then churchwarden. The rules laid great stress on cleanliness ; no person was to be placed in the wards until he or she had been carefully examined and washed; the rooms were to be kept neat and clean, swept at least three times a week and washed as often as necessary; the windows were to be opened every day except in wet weather; the children's heads and hands and the clothes and beds were kept clean, and clean linen was to be supplied weekly; the beds were to be 'sheeted' once a month; no victuals were to be eaten out of the dining room.
Some of the rules were such as might make paupers loth to enter the House; hours of work were from 6 a.m to 7 p.m. in summer and from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. in winter, with half an hour allowed for breakfast at 9 a.m. and one hour for dinner at 1 p.m., supper being 'against they leave work'; bed time was 9 p.m. in summer and 8 in winter; none to go out of the House except into the garden without leave; no tea or spirits were to be used in the house; the pauper's badge was to be worn, and smoking was forbidden except in the workrooms. But in spite of such rales and of the determination to grant no outdoor relief except by order of the Vestry, it is difficult to imagine that the workhouse could deter the poor from applying for relief, for the number on the monthly lists of regular recipients, to say nothing of the much larger number receiving relief less regularly, at that time had far exceeded the accommodation provided in the workhouse."
- FH Hinon