Poor Law Union and Workhouse
In 1738 the trustees of Middleton's charity bought the old Bull Inn from Jane Stanbridge which was then rented and made use of by the Churchwardens and overseers as a workhouse for the Poor. The idle poor were set to work and the unemployed were discouraged from moving about to seek work.
The parish of their settlement had a duty to maintain them. At the Lewes Sessions in 1715 the settlement of Thomas Mitchell, pauper, was fixed at Cuckfield. The old poor laws treated the paupers almost as criminals to encourage independence.
Extracts from the Sussex Weekly Advertiser show:
Jan19, 1789. John Morris for running away and leaving his family chargeable to the Parish of Cuckfield was adjudged a rogue and vagabond: recommitted for one week and ordered to be privately whipped.
7 April 16,1790. Abraham C was sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing 1 bushel of wheat in the chaff from the barn of John Coppard of Cuckfield. He was 22 years old, of previously good character, had a wife and one child and another daily expected.
A new Poor Law was enacted in 1834 and Guardians were created to administer it. The churchwardens and overseers gave up the old parish workhouse on 29 September 1845
Cuckfield was a union town responsible by law for providing a workhouse in the area. This was known as the Cuckfield Union and included an infirmary.
Places within the union were:
Albourne, Ardingly, Balcombe, Bolney, Clayton, Cuckfield Urban, Cuckfield Rural, Haywards Heath, Horsted Keynes, Hurstpierpoint, Keymer, Lindfield, Newtimber, Pyecombe, Slaugham and Twineham.
They had a combined population of 23,326 in 1891.
The new Union Workhouse was opened in September 1845 on the northern outskirts of Cuckfield, built at a cost of 1845. It comprised the main building, which was designed to accommodate 450, an infirmary and a chapel.
In 1891 there were 186 inmates and officer at the Workhouse.
At the outbreak of the Second World War the Cuckfield Union Infirmary became an Emergency Medical Service Service Hospital and in 1942 the Canadians established a Military Hospital there. During the 1990s the Old Union Workhouse was converted to apartments and the old nissan huts demolished to make way for housing
A book called "Dead & Buried in Sussex" by David Arscott, it maybe of interest.
"A plaque at South Malling, Lewes, remembers the victims of the worst such disaster Britain has known:
THIS TABLET IS PLACED HERE BY SUBSCRIPTION TO RECORD AN AWFUL INSTANCE OF THE UNCERTAINTY OF HUMAN LIFE ON THE MORNING OF THE 27TH DEC 1836. THE POOR HOUSE OF THIS PARISH WAS DESTROYED BY A MASS OF SNOW FALLING FROM THE HILL ABOVE, AND THE FOLLOWING EIGHT INDIVIDUALS WERE BURIED BENEATH THE RUINS."
The names follow, their ages ranging from 82 to fifteen. The Snowdrop Inn, by the Cuilfail tunnel, marks the spot of the disaster today."
Source: Information provided by Elizabeth Graydon
Elizabeth has a site relating to Cuckfield, which offers genealogical and social history including the Workhouse, which can be viewed at http://www.graydonwhite.freeserve.co.uk
The parish established a Workhouse in 1722. The overseers of the poor rented the Old Bulls Inn building for f 6 per annum. It was located west of the church and adjacent to Ockenden House. Anyone asking for help must leave
home and sell ever asset if any and even turn in all clothing. If a family was taken in, the men were separated to a men's dorm and the women to their dorm. No cohabiting allowed. This was a birth control method that was not always successful.
A workhouse uniform was issued to each person and they were required to work at whatever job came up. One of the off-season jobs was to pick oakum- pulling apart strands of tarred rope to make material to caulk ships seams.
The food in a workhouse was better in most cases of that than the person had outside. Also medical help was on site as the crowded conditions made for sickness to spread rapidly.
The Bulls Inn workhouse was expanded several times and served as such until 1845 when a new workhouse was built northeast of town. This was a UNION of several parishes that consolidated into one workhouse. at the CHUCKLED location. It served as a workhouse until W.W.II when the Canadian army moved in and made it a military
hospital. After the war the Old Settlement laws for the poor and sick was replaced with the National Health Act of 1948. It has operated as a hospital until 1991 and has since been converted to apartments.
Source: Information provided by Percy Botting
CUCKFIELDThe Union workhouse contains 50 inmates & a larger one is being built near the town.
Source: Post Office 1846 - p 657
Submitted by Betty Longbottom
Cuckfield Union workhouse contains 100 inmates.
Source: Post Office 1846 - p 681
Submitted by Betty Longbottom
Page updated March 12, 2008 by Rossbret