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The Workhouse (Southwell)
Member Name: Cinny91
The Workhouse (Southwell)
Date: 16/12/08, updated on 14/01/09 (236 review reads)
Advantages: Nice displays and mini games for the kids!
Disadvantages: No on site cafe, take a pack lunch and enjoy the countryside.
Southwell Workhouse is by far my favourite National Trust property. A must see for any Victorian History fan or National Trust lover. Also a great place to go during the summer holidays if you want to keep your kids minds active.
Southwell workhouse is the greatest surviving example of the Victorian workhouse and it just so happens to be the blue print that all the other workhouses were built on. Southwell Workhouse was the brain child of an idea by Rev. John Becher who had set up a parish workhouse as his solution to relief those in desperate situations. After his parish workhouse did infact help to reduce the poor rates (by about 70%? if I remember right!) he sold his idea to a further 50 local parishes forming a union. They then went on to adapt their workhouse ideals on a larger model starting work on Southwell in 1824.
If I remember correctly (again!) it was used as a workhouse until the start of 1900 when it was converted into a hospital for the terminally ill and in the 1960s a wing was converted into flats for single mothers and the national trust has done one of the rooms up to how it would of been used then, with the archers blasting out sugar sugar from a record player. It's so surreal to go from the big spaceous silent rooms down a little corridor to the bright little flat.
As you go around Southwell Workhouse you are given an audio guide and really have to use your imagination as, of course, no authentic furniture from the workhouse days survives. But walking around the workhouse is so eery but beautiful! If you're only planning on going once you need to take it all in, don't rush from room to room but listen to your audio guide, read the poem in the upstairs bedroom, walk along the well worn grooves in the flooring and picture the crowded rooms and beds. Find out all the nitty gritty facts like these: If there were more people than work in the work house inmates were made to re-paint the walls over and over and historians have found hairs of inmates trapped between the layers of paint, and how they had to stop bone crushing after inmates were caught eating rotting flesh off the bone they were so hungry. And for a history buff like me I found that ruddy fascinating.
The workhouse is a great place to go to now, as it's really hitting home with this 'credit crunch' people loosing jobs, in debt ect and to think if it was only 100 odd years ago some of our loved ones might of been facing the workhouse.
Only thing is, remember to take a pack lunch (although there are some lovely pubs nearby!) The workhouse has a basic toilet block but that's it. You can't complain about their not being a cafe because if there was one I think it would completely ruin the whole feel of the place.
Summary: Great day out.
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