Victorian Powys for primary  schools
Powys Digital History Project
Llanfyllin and district
The Union Workhouse
  Locked up with bread and water  

The everyday lives of the poor people of the district who were sent to the workhouse were bad enough. The surroundings were very grim, there was very little to eat - and what they were given was very poor and tasteless. The sleeping quarters were bare, with iron beds in a row and almost no other furniture.
But things became even worse for anyone who did not do as they were told. They were quickly punished, for the workhouse rules were very strict, particularly in the early Victorian years.
The cruel looking clamp in the photograph on the right was used in some workhouses to keep troublesome inmates quiet. See how it was used in our 'Care of the poor' pages.

This example of punishment at Llanfyllin workhouse is from the Minute Book records for 1841...

This 'scold's bridle'
can be seen in
Powysland Museum
at Welshpool
20th April
Minute book entry
Drawing by
Rob Davies

This Minute Book entry reads -
20th April - "Ordered that Watkin Jones be confined for 24 hours and be fed upon Bread and Water".

This meant that he would have been locked up in the punishment block, probably with no windows, for a day and night.
It was also quite common for people in the workhouse to be ordered to be whipped in front of the other inmates, so that they would know what to expect if they did not obey the rules.
When the huge shared workhouses were built under the new Poor Law of 1834 they were meant to be frightening places. The authorities didn't mind terrible stories about them being told to people outside, because the main purpose was to save money and to encourage people to look after themselves.

Back to Llanfyllin workhouse menu


Confinement cell
Link to sources
Back to top
Go to Llanfyllin menu