Link back to main ROSSBRET websiteLymington Workhouse


Link back to main ROSSBRET websiteLymington Workhouse


Lymington Union Workhouse 

An Architect by the name of Mr. S Kempthorne was commissioned to build a new Union Workhouse to replace the old poorhouse. The Workhouse would serve the parishes of Lymington, Boldre, Hordle, Brockenhurst, Milford, Sway and Milton. 
The infirmary extension was added in 1927. 
The infirmary had 50 beds in the form of a male ward, female ward downstairs and a Maternity Unit upstairs. This Workhouse later became Lymington Infirmary, although is now due for closure. 
The building is Nationally Listed and plans have been placed to provide accommodation in the form of flats.

Photograph Copyright Rossbret 2001

Workhouses, List of those visited in 1867 With Name of the Workhouse and numbers of insane, idiotic, and imbecile inmates. 

Lymington 3 2 5

Source: 22nd Report of the Commissioners in Lunacy to the Lord Chancellor. Submitted by Alan Longbottom. 


Hampshire Record Office
Sussex Street, 
SO23 8TH
Tel: 01962 846154  


Extract from the Rev Mr Gilpin's account of the new poorhouse at Boldre in Hampshire

The old poor-house at Boldre being a wretched place, and having been managed without any economy, at a great expence, it was determined at a vestry, held in the year 1792, to build a new one on a better site; to put in a respectable master and mistress; and to give the overlooking of it to a monthly committee of the gentlemen farmers of the parish.
Accordingly they borrowed the sum of 800, and bought a piece of ground, about two acres and a half; elevated, dry, and airy; here they erected the house, at a little distance from the road; and yet near enough to be under the constant eye of observation. It is built substantially of brick; single, that the air may have free passage through it, and extending about 82 feet in front and 20 in breadth. These dimensions give an excellent work-room on the right as you enter; and on the left, a kitchen and a back kitchen; the master's room, which is also the committee room, about 18 feet by 14 feet, occupies the centre, and has a window on one side, inspecting the work room, and another on the opposite side inspecting the kitchen. Above the stairs, the sleeping chambers are
separated nearly as those are below; only, as there are commonly more women and children in the poor-house than men, a room at the end of the men's apartment is taken off for a sick room, with a separate staircase. Over the chambers are excellent garrets; behind the kitchen part of the house, are the pantries and other conveniences
among which is a store room 30 feet long. The ground between the house and the road, which is a falling space
of about 60 yards is divided, first into a dry convenient play yard for the children; and the remainder, about half an acre, running down to the road, is a garden; the larger garden which is an acre, lies behind the house.

The house being finished, and sufficiently dry, the inhabitants of the old house, consisting of 9 or 10 men and women and between 20 and 30 children, were brought into it, on the 19th of May 1793, and the whole put under the case of Mr & Mrs Salter, who are both of them well acquainted with the whole business of spinning and weaving. He has set up a couple of looms, and a number of spinning wheels, and generally presides over this part of the business himself;
Mrs Salter attending to the economy and management of the house. 
The inhabitants are all employed according to their capacities, some of the old women in cooking, mending, and washing; the old men in the garden; the children, and some of the women in spinning and weaving; children even of 4 and 5 years of age are employed, and earn about a penny a day. In the summer they come into the work-room at six; in winter as soon as it is light. At breakfast they have an
hour's respite, and the same at dinner. They all have tasks; but so easy, that if they work hard, they can finish them by two in the afternoon; and without any exertion by six.

Their table of diet is as follows :- on Sunday, meat with plenty
of vegetables and bread; the allowance of which is 4 ounces for grown persons and 3 ounces for children; on Monday, the remains of Sunday's dinner warmed with vegetables and bread. on Tuesday each grown person has a pound of pudding, and children three-quarters of a pound; on Wednesday, the same as Sunday, on Thursday the same
as Monday; on Friday Ox-head stew with vegetables and bread; on Saturday a clearance is made of all the remains in the house; and if they fall short, the deficiency is made up with bread and cheese.
For breakfast, beef-broth, or milk porridge and bread are provided; except for a few old women, who, having been in the habit of drinking tea all their lifetime, are allowed that indulgence, on account of their good behaviour. At supper the regular meal is 6 ounces of bread and an ounce of cheese for every grown person, and for the children, 4 ounces of bread and three-quarters of an ounce of cheese; this is sometimes varied with potatoes, which the children 
like better. The children, including all under the age of 15 years, set at one table, and the grown persons at another.
Everything is good in its kind; the children seldom eat up all that is provided, and the remainder is fried up again the next day, among the remains. During the late scarcity of bread-corn, Mrs Salter used a less proportion of wheat and a larger of potatoes, particularly for supper; and during the winter of the year 1795, she boiled potatoes and onions, and mixing them well together, fried them with a little lard; the people were in general fonder of this dish than of their usual meal. Four bushels and a half of malt are allowed each month for beer. I must add, that the master and mistress generally fare as the family does, though it is not required by the committee. The clothing of the poor is equally good; every one has a new suit for Sunday, generally spun and woven in the house. It is carefully hung up at night, and the old clothes produced for the week.

Thus the poor are well lodged, well fed, and well clothed; and yet, on deducting their earnings, at less than half the expence that they cost the parish before. Their food, upon an average, is scarcely ever estimated as so much as nine-pence a head weekly; whereas in the old house, with continual complaint, the allowance was just double; though provisions, at that time, were much cheaper than they are now.

In the article of clothing, much more is saved. Tho the poor are now so decently clad, yet by care and management, the whole expence of the clothing in the year 1795, including shoes, amounted to only 17-16s-8d. whereas clothing the poor in the old house, did not amount to less, one year with another, than 70 annually. In one year it reached 90.; for as no care was taken to keep the clothes in repair, nor any distinction made between old and new, they were always in rags, and yet always craving for new clothes.

Another article of saving is in the health of the poor; arising from the airiness and cleanliness of the present house, the good clothing, the wholesomeness and plenty of provisions, and from the care that is taken to keep the family clean. No epidemical, nor indeed any disorder has appeared among them, since the new house has been opened. 

By this alteration in the management of the house, a saving in the poor's rates of the parish was made in the year 1795, of 157-1s-6d notwithstanding the then advanced price of provisions, and the variety of expences incident to a new establishment; and the average diminution in the rates from Easter 1793 to the present time has been 164 a year. The gardens belonging to the house are in high cultivation, and bear such quantities of potatoes and cabbages, the chief vegetables used in the family, that in general they are abundantly supplied. During the scarcity of the year 1795, they were obliged indeed to purchase potatoes.

But nothing is so delightful in the institution, as the cheerfulness and happy air, with which every thing is conducted. The old women. who behave well, have their little indulgences of tea and snuff; and the men of tobacco. The children's tasks are made pleasing to them, by little gratuities out of their earnings. The master has the art of turning even their play hours to use, and yet making them more happy, than if they were left to themselves.

The brevity of these reports does not allow me to enter into the detail of Mr Salter's management of the children. The eagerness with which they perform their tasks early, in hopes of being a party entrusted with a letter, or some commission of importance, to a distant part of the parish, and indeed every part of Mr Gilpin's detail, would afford satisfaction and information to the reader. It is a book that should be read by every master of a parish workhouse, and by every person concerned in the management of the poor.

Punishment in Boldre workhouse is rare and gentle; and consists chiefly in confining the delinquent in a room by himself, and abridging him of a meal: if, however, the master is under the necessity of correcting a boy corporally, the punishment is always inflicted in the presence of some respectable person. - For devotion and religious instruction, the family assembles in the kitchen, every morning when the bell rings for breakfast. The master reads, and generally explains, some easy and practical part of the New Testament; after which they all join in prayer. On Sunday morning and evening, these exercises are enlarged, and accompanied with singing hymns, in which all the children join. They regularly attend church on Sundays; and it is a pleasing sight to see so many well clothed figures, happy faces, and healthy countenances issuing from a parish workhouse. In the afternoon, on Sunday, the children attend the school, where they are catechized with the older children
of the neighbourhood; the old people also attend with them.

The advantages of a well regulated poor-house consist in the
superior comfort of the aged, the education of the young, the 
reform of the dissolute, and the diminution of the poor's rates. All these benefits have attended the new regulation of the poor-house at Boldre; so that a happy and useful society has been thereby formed out of the very dregs of the parish. The old people having all their wants supplied, and their wishes attended to, feel them-selves more comfortable than ever they did before; and are glad to render cheerfully, in return, what little services they can; the children, bred to industry and Christian virtue, promise to become
useful members of society; and the penitence and good conduct of some persons in the house, who, for want of education and early good habits, had been involved in idleness and profligacy, do infinite credit to the institution. I have only to add, that the poor's rate has been reduced from 654-12s-0d to 490 a year at the same time that the comfort and happiness, the industry, and the moral and religious habits of the poor, and, in its consequences
of the whole parish, have been increased, with a reasonable confidence of still greater improvement and saving to the parish, by its effects and example on the rising generation.

The Reports of the Society for Bettering the Condition
and Increasing the Comforts of the Poor. Vol 1 1798 446 pp

32 Extract from the Rev Mr Gilpin's account of the new
poorhouse at Boldre in Hampshire. by Bp of Durham.
pp 244-254 Dated 10th March 1798.
Submitted by Alan Longbottom

Page updated March 12, 2008
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