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The workhouse at Caersws
Care of the poor
 
Life in the workhouse  
Workhouse drawing
To find out more about workhouses in general, click on the image above

The records of the old Caersws workhouse tell us something of what life must have been like inside. We know that the inmates had to work to earn their keep.
The women were employed in cooking, cleaning, washing, sewing and domestic duties, and some were used as nurses in the sick or children's wards.
The land around the workhouse was used for growing food for the inmates. Here the able-bodied men worked.
As in other workhouses the men at Caersws were set to crushing up animal bones for fertilizer. This was stopped when it was discovered that men at a workhouse in England were so hungry they were eating the marrow!

 
  The workhouse also had a ward for "casual poor". These were men who were passing through the area who would beg a night's rest and breakfast in the morning. These men were said to be "on the tramp" and they were required to break rocks into smaller stones in return for their food and shelter. The tramps could be locked in until they had completed their quota.
As work in the countryside became more difficult to come by there were more men "on the tramp" looking for work.
 
 

Inmates of the workhouse who did not follow the strict rules of the house could be punished. They had to wear what was provided, get up and go to bed when told, eat in silence and work when told to. If they failed to do this they could be put on even less food than the other paupers or locked away.
Serious cases were locked in solitary confinement on bread and water for 24 hours. Inmates who kept running away or causing trouble were taken to court or sent to the county gaol. Staying within the strict rules certainly made life easier.

More about life in the workhouse...

 

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