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Bromyard Union Workhouse

Historic Environment Record reference no. 30566, Ordnance Survey grid reference SO 6705 5425

Bromyard Union Workhouse is located on the south side of the A44 that runs through the town and up towards the Bromyard Downs. The building is shown on the First Edition Ordnance Survey map and the tithe map. The enclosure of land for the construction of the workhouse and approval of the plans is dated to 1836. The architect was George Wilkinson, who also designed Weobley, Leominster and Ledbury workhouses.

The Union Workhouse was built in 1836 and was designed to hold 120 inmates. The Poor Law Commissioners authorised a budget of £3,000 for the project. The design of the workhouse followed the typical cruciform shape with an entrance wing at the front. Behind this four separate accommodation wings led off from a central corridor. This created areas for the different classes of inmates.

The dietary provisions were well regulated in all the workhouses, and Bromyard was no exception. A notebook of 1832 lists the rations as:

  • Breakfast - 3lbs 8oz of bread and 10.5 pints of gruel to last the week, women 14oz less bread
  • Dinner  - on two days they would have 8oz bacon, 2lbs of potatoes; for another two days 3 pints of soup, 1lb 6oz of bread; and for the remaining three days 1lb 5oz of bread and 6oz of cheese
  • Supper - for the week there was 2lbs1oz of bread and 10.5 oz of cheese

The women had the same food as the men, just less of it.

Old persons may have been given 1oz of tea, 5oz of butter and 7oz of sugar a week instead of their gruel for breakfast.

(Hereford Record Office, C95/B/5/vi)

In 1893 there was an outbreak of smallpox and a small cottage at Burley, half a mile from the workhouse, was turned into an isolation hospital.

Bromyard Workhouse was overseen by a locally-elected Board of Guardians. Thirty-five members representing 33 parishes made up this Board. The Board would meet on alternate Thursdays at Court House in Bromyard. The population within the Union boundaries at the time of the 1831 Census was 11,940, but by 1891 the population had dropped to 10,562. The workhouse later became Bromyard Hospital, and subsequently has been divided into private flats.

[Original author: Miranda Greene, 2003]