Wednesday, 1 December 2010

The true face of the workhouse

Letter sent from an Inmate in Boston Workhouse "When I was a child and became orphaned in 1916, along with several brothers and sisters, I was deposited at that 'place' in Skirbeck Road then known as the workhouse, or Poor law Institution. And a more heartless, cold, inhuman place for parentless children to live in is hard to imagine. In the children's section the regime was unfeeling and harsh, the building was prison-like.

I remember the flagstone floor of our living room (which we children sometimes had to wash), the playground, or exercise yard, also surfaced with flagstones, enclosed by a high brick wall.
We were always hungry, a condition somewhat relieved when the boys of nine years old upwards graduated to the men's quarters, where there were better opportunities to leave the dining hall with slices of bread up one's jumper, to be augmented after dark by slipping out of the bathroom window into the garden and returning with carrots, turnips, apple, pears etc. What a tucking we often had in our dormitory. If you've read any escape stories you will know what I mean!
To return to the beginning. In the first few weeks of my incarceration the harshness hit me so hard (I was six at the time) that I ran away (or shall I say escaped) and made the journey of nine miles back to the old family home at Wigtoft.
That did not have a happy outcome, so my next escape was in the direction of Freiston Shore. Another failure. After that I just had to grin and bear it, but forever after when I think of my life in the workhouse I think also of Wormwood Scrubs, Colditz, The Lubianka, Oliver Twist - they all go together. "
Source: Sent in by Janet Corney


  1. it would do some of the kids a world of good now ,they dont realise how lucky they are

  2. Yes I agree for some of the spoilt kids we see nowdays but this poor lady's only crime was that she was orphaned.

  3. i loved reading and looking at all the old pics and i was born a fensider 1974 some of my family still live down their and yes you are right kids to day want it all and bk in the old days i try and think if it was me how people just had to get on with it and kids as young as i dont no what working on the land my uncle has just died at the good old age of 89 and the things he told me how life was for him then brings a tear to my eyes i thanks myself what i have to day