Life as a Victorian Inmate

On Monday Year 5 pupils visited Southwell Workhouse as part of their topic on Victorians. On entering the imposing building the boys and girls were separated as they would have been upon entry in Victorian times. Pupils donned paupers' clothes and were marched into the yard for registration by the formidable Master of the Workhouse. Our guides were 'pauper inmates' and they showed us all aspects of workhouse life including a Victorian classroom, the austere dormitories and the mundane chores that were carried out. 

The afternoon session involved an investigation of the lives of actual child inmates of the Workhouse through census records. We looked at their diet, their circumstances and any misdemeanours they were guilty of. This was followed by an in-depth and balanced discussion about the relative merits and demerits of the workhouse system led by our knowledgeable guides.

It was a memorable experience of workhouse life set in the genuine surroundings of the original Victorian buildings.