Victorian Powys for primary  schools
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The workhouse at Caersws
Care of the poor
 
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Life in the workhouse  
Workhouse drawing
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The workhouse at Caersws seems to have had a high proportion of children living there throughout its history.
They were orphans or abandoned children, or children of parents who were in gaol or too sick to look after them. Many were in the workhouse with their parents.
From the aerly days the authorities were keen to give them some kind of education. A schoolmistress was appointed in 1840, and a schoolmaster in 1841. The extract from the workhouse records below shows the Guardians appointing the mistress.

 
 
  It reads:
"Resolved that Elizabeth Jenkins of or near Pontfolgoch and now keeping a school there, be appointed Schoolmistress of the workhouse at a salary after the rate of £20 per annum with Board and Lodging in the house..."
 
  Miss Jenkins was asked to spend time at the Atcham workhouse in Shropshire to see how things were done there.
The children in the workhouse were in some ways lucky. Few poor children in the countryside would have had any education in the early Victorian period. These children were made to work hard in the gardens as well as do their lessons but they got time for play as well.
There were occasions when the schoolmaster was beating the boys with his fists. (One boy was found with two black eyes !) The authorities put a stop to this though. The children were also taught useful things like shoemaking so they could obtain work when they were older.
One schoolmaster at the workhouse got into trouble himself in 1842. He was found to be drunk in the schoolroom on more than one occasion and assaulted a woman inmate! He was dismissed by the workhouse authorities.
  old women in the workhouseFor old people in the workhouse the situation was less happy. Once they were too old to work it was very difficult for them to get out. They could hope that some relations would offer them a home and look after them.
After 1846 though, the Board of Guardians did allow elderly couples to have a room of their own. In many workhouses they were separated as they went in and only saw each other when the workhouse master allowed.
As the Victorian period went on attitudes to paupers relaxed and they were treated more kindly, especially the older paupers who were simply too old to work and had no income.
 
 

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