Southwell Workhouse

Discussion in 'Parish Law' started by juliespav, Aug 27, 2013.

  1. juliespav

    juliespav Member

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    Hello everyone, not sure if I'm in the correct forum but I'm sure a Moderator will help out!

    I had an outing to Nottinghamshire yesterday, taking in Southwell Workhouse and various Nottinghamshire hamlets that my ancestors hailed from. Well I say hamlets, in one case a collection of a couple of farms, and the Church was no longer accessible as it had been incorporated by one of the farms!

    I found the Southwell Workhouse tour - we did both outside at 11.30 am and inside at 1.00 pm - absolutely fascinating - more so because if any of my "cousins" did need to go into the Workhouse then this would have been their parish one. I haven't found any trace yet, but as they were all Ag Labs and from the tour it was made clear that winter was a bad time for Ag Lab families and the workhouse was often overfull, then there is a chance (sadly) that someone was there.

    A very nice National Trust volunteer has taken my contact details as their researchers are trying to populate names since the admission and discharge books has disappeared, so lets see if they are able to find a connection.

    The one thing that did irritate me a little was that in all the little villages we visited, we stopped to see the Churches and they were all locked up. I do understand that there has been vandalism so care has to be taken, but this was daytime on a Bank Holiday, I did rather hope we could have gone inside.

    Never mind, at least I've got a feel for the area - certainly very rural - so I can understand why they gradually moved over to the City of Sheffield only 30 miles away. For these large families there really can't have been enough work to keep all the children employed as they grew up.

    Its good to have a bit of an insight into the past.

    Julie
     
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  2. Bookworm

    Bookworm Now in the arms of the Angels

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    I'm glad to hear you enjoyed the visit to the Workhouse but what a shame you couldn't go in any of the village churches.
    I'm afraid it's a sign of the times - our Churches have been hit by vandals many times over the past years, taking mainly the lead from the roof etc.
    We had a drive out in the country yesterday and passed so many villages with quaint churches in them, they looked lovely but I'd imagine that they wouldn't be open now. I can remember the time when you were able to wander around them but not anymore - sad but very true.
     
  3. Daft Bat

    Daft Bat Administrator. Chief cook & bottle washer! Staff Member

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    In the villages around where I live, many of the churches have large signs that say "This Church is open".

    It is a sad sign of the times when the churches have to say that they are open - that it is the exception, rather than the norm.
     
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  4. The Artful Dodger

    The Artful Dodger Dodging, ducking and diving

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    On our recent trip, we visited the cemetery where my wife's mother was buried and also the one where my mum's parents and her brother are remembered. Each was large, quite well maintained and very peacefull. Each had a garden where folks could sit quietly and remember their loved ones, which was quite impressive.

    Like you, Julie, I too was disappointed about the Churches. I particularly wanted to see inside the Church that I was baptised in during the war, but sadly it was locked. When talking to the caretaker, he advised that whie visitors to the Church were welcome, the Vicar had to be approached for permission and was unavailable on the day we visited. However, all was not lost - I did get a lovely photograph of the place.

    Colin
     
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  5. Bay Horse

    Bay Horse Can be a bit of a dark horse

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    I do find it sad that churches are locked nowadays, but I can understand why. I remember going home to visit my dad's grave and finding the church locked up for the first time - I'd always gone inside, any time of day, and sat in 'our' family pew. After that, the key was available from the vicarage nearby - but the old vicarage, like so many others, has now been sold off.

    I recently visited my g-grandma's grave, something I do from time to time, and found the church door ajar for the first time. I was welcomed in and able to sit quietly for ten minutes - it was a beautiful little church. I'd only ever seen the outside.

    Looking forward to visiting Southwell Workhouse; I really must go.
     
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  6. MollyMay

    MollyMay Knows where to find the answers!

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    Several years back now, when I was at the start of my research, we visited the Oxfordshire village where my husbands paternal line came from, and yes we found the church locked. In the porch was the phone numbers for the church wardens, so my OH decided to ring (I would not have had the nerve). To our delight one agreed to come down to the church, and she arrived shortly afterward, on her bicycle with her little daughter in tow. She opened up for us and even delved into the filing cabinets (used to protect paperwork from mouse attack) and pulled out the marriage register, still in use but with entries back as far as the late1800's (they do not have many marriages and the register was still not full so they continue to use the same one). These was the first old document I had handled and I can still remember vividly the thrill when we found some of the family marriages in there. I think the warden was as delighted as I was too. A wonderful experience, but such a shame that even small village churches are not safe from criminals and have to be locked.
     
  7. Huncamunca

    Huncamunca The Knowledgeable One

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    In case you didn't already know, Julie, the National Archives have digitised some Southwell workhouse records from MH 12 (correspondence between Boards of Guardians and the Poor Law Commissioners and their successors). It may be worth searching their catalogue, restricting the search to MH 12 and including Southwell and perhaps one of your surnames of interest as search terms. Once you've identified a particular item you can download an image, free.

    (This has been done only for Southwell and a few other poor law unions: I have yet to find a list of which others are the lucky ones.)
     
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  8. juliespav

    juliespav Member

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    Thank you Huncamunca, I'll certainly give it a go!
     
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  9. Malcolm Webb

    Malcolm Webb Well-Known Member

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    As I live only 18 miles from Southwell Workhouse I am rather ashamed to admit that I had not visited until 3 weeks ago. I found it well worth the visit, particularly the outside guided tour. I was a little disappointed with the inside -- I expected more of a museum with exhibits rather than preserved empty space.

    As for local churches, my wife and I have done the ancestral trail of over a dozen Nottinghamshire churches earlier this year and found most of them open. Those that weren't had contact details for the keyholder who fell over themselves to bring the key when we rang. One church was adjacent to a farm with a farm shop where we enjoyed a coffee and a cake and were entrusted with a large (huge, in fact) medieaval key to explore the church at our leisure.

    It is a great pity that churches have to be kept locked but, if our experience is anything to go by, don't be afraid to find out who holds the key and make contact. They have been delighted to show us around their magnificent little churches and we have been equally delighted to make a generous donation to the Church funds.

    All the best,
    Malcolm Webb
    Lincoln UK
     
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  10. gillyflower

    gillyflower Always caring about others

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    Southwell Workhouse is certainly very interesting. Yes it is sad churches have to be kept locked these days. Sometimes if youy can contact the local Vicar they may be able to be around the church so ou can go inside and look.
     
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  11. hermitpez

    hermitpez Member

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    Not only the rise of crimes committed against the churches (theft and vandalism) but also the decline of religion and people going to church has affected them all. I am an atheist but have respect for anyone's belief and absolutely love going round old churches and cathedrals, it would be nice if we had all the monasteries too that once were. It is one thing to note that if your ancestor belonged to a non-conformist religion and had a different place of worship then these buildings are more likely not to be in existence anymore. For example, the village Ropsley in Lincolnshire, used to have a Baptist chapel but this is no more and not in living memory of anyone who lives there (or their parents) so they are surprised to hear there was two places of worship in such a small village. People then usually bring up the two graveyards, although I'm not sure whether the church moved, they took over some extra land for the non-conformists (or extra room), or if it was actually a separate graveyard. Once I finish my degree I intend on doing a one place study to findmore about that particular one ;)
     
  12. Elsiesgirl

    Elsiesgirl Well-Known Member

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    I visited Southwell Workhouse a few years ago with my aunt and found it really worthwhile. A very sad place. It is a pity that churches have to be locked nowadays but I understand why. Sometimes there is someone with a key to let you go in if you make enquiries but often not.
     
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