The Shadow of the Workhouse

J N Clarke The Society of Lincolnshire History and Archaeology

This carefully researched book examines the operation of the Poor Laws in the Horncastle area from 1735 to 1935 and gives a vivid account of life in the Horncastle Workhouse between 1838 and 1930. Less than 100 years ago old age or loss of work through accident or illness brought poverty and the workhouse was a constant dread for many families in the countryside. Legislation from the 16th century made the parish the unit for local administration of a national poor law policy and there was a widely differing application of the poor laws by the Overseers. A solution came in the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act which united groups of parishes into Unions to fund and run a Workhouse. The Horncastle Union comprised 68 parishes and the building of the Horncastle Workhouse (designed by George Gilbert Scott) was completed in 1838.

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