There is so much to celebrate, this month, as we announced our new show and booking is now open for you to join the cast of Oliver Jr in Richmond, Esher & Twickenham. It is also Children in Need Day on Friday 18th November! Oliver Twist was Charles Dickens’ portrayal of a child in need as he was abandoned by his mother and raised in a Victorian workhouse.
Facts about a Victorian Workhouse
The workhouse provided people a place to live in exchange for work. Medical care, food, clothes, and education were also dispensed (meagrely) and the reality was that many people starved. According to the editor of the medical journal, the Lancet, the institution could kill 145,000 people every year! Charity could not be encouraged so it is thought that the conditions were deliberately dire in order to put people off!
Who lived in a Workhouse?
Unemployed men, orphaned or abandoned children, the physically and mentally sick, the disabled, the elderly and unmarried mothers. They were forced to wear uniforms to add to the stigma and families were split up.
What did the Workhouse consist of ?
Workhouses were entirely self-sufficient. They included: a dining hall, dormitories, kitchens, school rooms, nurseries, rooms for the sick, chapels, mortuaries, bakeries, laundries, tailors, shoe makers, vegetable gardens and small farms.
What was food like in the Workhouse?
Let’s just say that you may not have wanted MORE! Lots of gruel, broth, cheese and bread was served up on a monotonous rota.
What happened to the Workhouse?
The harsh system of the workhouse became synonymous with the Victorian era, an institution which became known for its terrible conditions, forced child labour, long hours, malnutrition, beatings and neglect. By 1929, new laws were introduced to allow workhouses to be turned into hospitals and in 1930, workhouses were officially closed. Several workhouses still remain, as museums and most have been turned into private residence. Part of the Isleworth workhouse stands at West Middlesex Hospital.
If you think that your child deserves to eat gruel, please click here!