The Bromyard Workhouse was built in 1836 at a cost of around £3000, the architect being George Wilkinson who also was responsible for the workhouses at Leominster, Weobley and Ledbury.
It was designed for 120 inmates and followed the usual cruciform shape, thus allowing for easy segregation of people into the categories……men, women, elderly and infirm, and children, all of which came from the surrounding villages as follows:
Avenbury, Bridenbury, Collington, Little Cowarne, Much Cowarne, Cradley, Edwin Ralph, Evesbach, Felton, Bishops Frome, Grendon Bishop, Grendon Warren, Hampton Charles, Linton, Moreton Jeffries, Norton with Brockhampton, Ocle Pychard, Pencombe, Upper Sapey, Stanford Bishop, Stoke Lacy, Tedstone Delamere, Tedstone Wafer, Thornbury, Ullingswich, Wacton, Whitbourne, Winslow, Wolferlow; and from over the border in Worcestershire, Acton Beauchamp, Edwin Loach and Lower Sapey…….these three now being within Herefordshire boundaries.
Workhouse Life

Food Rations in the Workhouse

Food rations for Bromyard were much the same as elsewhere in other Workhouses, and they were extremely basic, as decreed by the Poor Law Act.
Breakfast – 3lbs 8oz bread plus 10 ½ pints of gruel to last the week, although the women were allocated 13oz less bread.
Dinner – for two days there was 8 oz bacon plus 2lbs of potatoes; for two more days there were 2 pints of soup, l lb 6oz bread, and for the last three days l lb 5 oz bread and 6 oz cheese.
Supper – for the week, 2lbs 1oz bread and 10 ½ oz of cheese.
Again, the women were given the same as the men but less, and the elderly were allowed some tea, butter and sugar instead of gruel.

Disease in the Workhouse

Bromyard Workhouse was not immune to outbreaks of disease, and in 1893 Smallpox was brought into the Workhouse – presumed by tramps – and it was not long before a cottage half a mile from the workhouse was turned into an isolation hospital to deal with such outbreaks.

News from the Workhouse

Advertisement for Schoolmistress

An advertisement was posted for a schoolmistress for the Bromyard Union Workhouse, at a salary of 10 pounds per year.

John Sunderland, a man of aliases

February 1856 – John Sunderland, a man with a number of aliases, was charged with running away from his wife and two children who had in consequence become chargeable to the parish of Stoke Lacey. The wife said that her husband had left her in Staffordshire three years earlier, and that she had come down to the Bromyard Workhouse. “John” blamed his bad behaviour on being out of work initially, and then on being injured on the railroad. He was sent to gaol for one month.

Egenia Philpotts – murderess

June 1857 – Egenia Philpotts was committed for trial at Hereford Assizes for the murder of her new born child. Mr. and Mrs. Brailsford, Master and Matron of the Bromyard Union Workhouse, said that the defendant who had been an inmate at the Workhouse, left on 20th then returned on 24th, saying that she had been confined at her father’s house and that the child was dead. However, Egenia’s mother told the court that her daughter had informed her that the confinement had taken place at the Union Workhouse. Superintendent Harward deposed that on confronting the prisoner on the Tuesday morning, she stuck to her story that she gave birth in the Workhouse where she was attended by Mr. Owen the Surgeon and Mrs. Brailsford the Matron, and that she supposed that after the baby died they buried it in Bromyard churchyard. Later however, she admitted that she gave birth in Mr. Rowberry’s field and that she buried the child in a ditch. After a search, the baby was found and although there were no external marks there was evidence of clay in it’s mouth and blood coming from the nose.
Egenia said that it was an accidental birth as she was on her way home, and that she was unconscious afterwards. On waking the baby was dead.
She was committed for trial!!

Workhouse Porter attempts suicide

June 1891 – The last train was approaching Suckley, when a young man ran down the embankment and threw himself across the rails; the driver blew his whistle and immediately braked, managing to stop just in time. The dazed man was put in a sitting position, and was recognised as Richards, who had been a porter at the Bromyard Workhouse. He was taken into custody after some resistence, and it was decided that he was of unsound mind. He was remanded by Magistrates on the charge of attempted suicide.

Tramps revolt at the Workhouse

September 1892 – Thomas Morgan, John Timbs, Peter Allen, William Green, Thomas James, John Lomas and William Smith, all tramps, were brought before the court by Thomas Arter, Master of Bromyard Union Workhouse charged with refusing to complete their allotted task of breaking stone. They were admitted into the Workhouse, and the following morning told to break the stone, but by the evening they had failed to finish the task and Thomas Arter gave the information to the police and had them all locked up. Roberts, the porter, said that he had told the defendants that they had to break 9cwt of stone each but they barely completed a quarter of this amount and refused to do any more. Thomas Morgan also damaged a door, trying to get out. They were all committed to 14 days hard labour, with Thomas Morgan earning himself another 7 days for damaging the door.

Bromyard Union Workhouse Staff and Inmates 1901 Census

Richard Byards 43 Master of the Workhouse b. Southampton, Freemantle
Emma Byards 37 Matron b. East Ham, Essex
Maud Byards 12 Daughter b. East Ham, Essex
Charles Byards 12 Son b. East Ham, Essex
Arthur Peggram 37 Porter b. Clyro, Radnorshire
Gertrude Peggram 36 Hospital Nurse b. Reading, Berkshire
Eva James 34 Night Nurse b. Evesham, Worcestershire
Charles Green 75 Widower, Cooper b. Upper Sapey, Herefordshire
Thomas Cureton 86 Widower, Shoemaker, born Avenbury, Herefordshire
Elizabeth Bradford 86 Widow (blind) b. Bromyard, Herefordshire
William Croft 87 Sawyer, born on voyage from Canada to England
John Horton 47 Labourer, b. Ridgemont, Bedfordshire
Hannah Welsh 42 Widow, Field Hand b. Grimley, Worcestershire
Isaac Round 81 Nail Maker b. Worcestershire
Henry Portman 65 Stableman b. Callow End, Worcestershire
John Bartlet 76 Waggoner b. Ludlow, Shropshire
Henry Beachey Ag. Lab. B. Lockley, Worcestershire
Henry Powles 70 Widower, Ag. Lab. B. Berrington
William Row 68 Widower, Shoemaker b. Gloucestershire
James Bishop 74 Bricklayer b. Herefordshire
William Oliver 73 Widower, Ag. Lab b. Wacton, Herefordshire
George Hackett 15 Not known where born
Edward Clewes 68 Waggoner b. Herefordshire
Isaac Strafford 68 House Painter b. Rusham, Lancashire
Edwin Underhill 57 Ag. Lab. B. Droitwich, Worcestershire
John Pitt 36 Widower, Puddler b. Wolverhampton
William Vaughn 50 Bread Maker b. Bromyard, Herefordshire
Thomas Bray 67 Wheelwright b. Docklow, Herefordshire
Hannah Price 80 Widow, b. Kington, Herefordshire
George Mays 67 Ag. Lab. B. Buntingford, Hertfordshire
James Gettens 74 Widower, Cowman b. Cradley, Herefordshire
William Hitchins 56 Ag. Lab. B. Cradley, Herefordshire
George Plaskett 70 Waggoner b. Brockhampton, Herefordshire
John Berrins (?) 83 Widower, Ag. Lab. B. Bishops Frome, Herefordshire
John Davies 71 Timber Feller b. Bishops Frome, Herefordshire
William Casewood 77 Waggoner b. Hereford
Noah Foxall 77 Ag. Lab. B. Knightwick, Worcestershire
Ann Saunders 73 b. Hacton Beeches, Worcestershire
Fanny Watkins 35 Charwoman b. Avenbury, Herefordshire
Frederick Watkins 3 b. Linton, Herefordshire
Walter Stephen Watkins Baby b. Linton, Herefordshire
James Hopkins 69 Ag. Lab. b. Bishops Frome, Herefordshire
John Williams 80 Shoemaker, b. Maidenhead, Berkshire
Samuel Gettens 50 Tunnel Miner b. Dawley, Shropshire
George Drew 43 Widower, Navvy, b. Inglestone, Gloucestershire
Frederick Drew 8 b. Llantresant, Monmouth
Eliza Phillips 43 Domestic Servant b. Ocle Pychard, Herefordshire
Martha Brown 69 Widow b. Golden Grove, Pembrokeshire
Thomas Smith 86 Widower, Stonemason b. Exeter
George Teague 65 Blacksmith’s Striker b. Brinstey, Herefordshire
George Field 64 Bricklayer b. Linton, Herefordshire
Jas Weatherby 19 b. Walsall, Staffordshire
Benjamin James 37 Waggoner b. Stoke Prior, Herefordshire
Edward Baker 80 Widower, Ag. Lab. b. Marden, Herefordshire
Fanny Clare 31 (Lunatic) b. Upper Sapey, Herefordshire
William Pitt 80 Navvy b. Stoke Prior
David Mytton 21 (partially blind) b. Herefordshire
William Morris 34 b. Cradley, Herefordshire
William James 87 Ag. Lab. b. Pencombe, Herefordshire
Joseph Powell 80 Sawyer b. Stoke Lacy, Herefordshire
Eliza Powell 74 b. Kidderminster
John Foxall 75 Ag. Lab. b. Whitbourne, Herefordshire
Edward Kennett 82 Widower, Timber Feller, b. Worcestershire
Mary Yeomans 78 Domestic Servant, b. Wacton, Herefordshire
Margaret Jones 56 (imbecile) b. Kings Pyon, Herefordshire
William Jones 36 (imbecile) b. Suckley, Worcestershire
Joseph Ovens 69 Widower, Ag. Lab. b. Norton, Herefordshire
George Drew 67 (lunatic) b. Powick, Worcestershire
John Jones 65 Widower, Cowman b. Linton, Herefordshire
John Pritchard 75 Widower, Navvy, b. Brinstead, Herefordshire
John Cheeseman 62 Navvy b. Cradley, Herefordshire
Thomas Morris 62 Waggoner b. Tedstone, Herefordshire
Richard Shuck 65 Ag. Lab. b. Cradley, Herefordshire
Ann Newton 70 Widow b. Tenbury, Worcestershire
Patience Thomas 79 Widow b. Bromyard, Herefordshire
John Downes 56 Brickmaker b. Bosbury, Herefordshire
William Corbett 74 Widower, Gardener b. Norton, Herefordshire
William Woodward 77 Widower, Maltster b. Great Malvern, Worcestershire
William Webster 51 Gardener b. Ashby de la Zouche, Leicestershire
Thomas Fisher 30 Bricklayers Labourer b. Liverpool
Mary Collins 46 Charwoman b. Dublin, Ireland
William Clark 30 Ag. Lab. b. Blackburn, Lancashire
John Price 62 Ag. Lab. b. Leeds, Yorkshire
Arthur O’Leary 45 Tailor b. Cork, Ireland
William Cook 30 Stoker b. Prescot, Lancashire
William Coldrick 32 Ag. Lab. b. Newent, Gloucestershire
Arthur Wellham 42 Ag. Lab. b. Norwich, Norfolk
William Brown 49 Ag. Lab. b. Lancashire