The Ledbury Union Workhouse was designed by George Wilkinson and built in 1836 in Union Lane and was opened the following year, (Union Lane is now renamed Orchard Road). The Workhouse had the innovation of water closets, and was in the classic cross shape to enable easy segregation of inmates – the elderly and infirm in one part; males in another, females, and lastly children. Ledbury took inmates from the following surrounding villages: Ashperton, Aylton, Bosbury, Canon Frome, Castle Frome, Coddington, Colwall, Donnington, Bishops Frome, Little Marcle, Munsley, Much Marcle, Pixley, Putley, Stretton Grandison, Tarrington, Woolhope, Yarkhill, and Mathon and Malvern from Worcestershire, the border being a short distance from Ledbury.





Workhouses - Herefordshire - Ledbury - exterior









It could accommodate up to 150 inmates so was slightly larger than the Abbey Dore Workhouse, and was by all accounts far stricter. As with all Workhouses, once anyone entered Ledbury they would be stripped of their clothes and scrubbed, then dressed in a uniform.

In accordance with the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 conditions inside a Workhouse had to be far worse than any the applicants might experience outside, with less food of lower quality. Whenever a man was forced to enter the workhouse, he had to take all his family with him, but they were then immediately split up and spent the rest of their time apart in different parts of the complex, only being reunited once they left. This was perhaps a very cruel rule, but it was designed to ensure that nobody became too settle and comfortable!

In Ledbury Workhouse a bell was rung throughout the day to alert inmates to the next routine, and this bell can be seen (and rung with permission) in the Butchers Row Museum in Ledbury.




Workhouses - Herefordshire - Ledbury - workhouse bell









Workhouse News

The following news items relate to the Ledbury Union Workhouse:

Refusal to break Stones

In July 1835 Caroline Hodges and Catherine Thomas of Ledbury Union Workhouse were charged with refusing to break a quantity of stones… They were committed to Hereford Gaol for 14 days hard labour

Riotous and Disorderly Conduct

On 8th July 1846 at the Ledbury Petty Sessions court Mr. Law, Master of the Ledbury Union Workhouse charged an old woman, Caroline Jones, with riotous and disorderly conduct on the previous Sunday in the Chapel, when she called him and the porter abusive names,  and at the same time exposed her person. Committed to Hereford Gaol for 21 days hard labour.

Christmas Day in the Workhouse

January 1848 – The guardians of the Ledbury Union Workhouse proudly announced that on Christmas Day they regaled the inmates with a superb dinner of roast beef, plum pudding and cider, for which they were all most grateful.

Violent and Abusive Behaviour in the Workhouse

September 1862 – Amelia Lancett, chargeable to the parish of Bosbury, was summoned by Mr. Meredith, Master of the Workhouse for having behaved badly with violent and disorderly behaviour in the workhouse, by breaking the windows and using filthy and obscene language to the Governess and others. Committed for 21 days hard labour

New Year Treat for Inmates

January 1887 – Annual New Years treat was given to inmates…..through the efforts of Master and Matron, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Morgan a concert was given . A capital programme was gone through and highly appreciated. After the concert, dancing and other amusements were enjoyed by young and old and a very enjoyable evening was spent.

August 1891 – Mrs Ballard and the Messrs Ballard of the Winnings Colwall, made a yearly event of a treat for the inmates, which included dinner and tea at their home. Always referred to as a treat.

Ledbury Union Workhouse Staff and Inmates 1841 Census

Christopher Jones 45 Master
Harriet Jones 35 Matron
Selina Jones 3 Daughter
Ann Jones 9 mths Daughter
Sophia Hodges 25 Nurse
Thomas Badsey 20 Baker
William Heys 50 Postman
Mary Boulter 25 Servant
Thomas Boulter 5 Son
Joseph Boulter 1 Son
Ellenor Beck 80
Martha Cale 55
Thomas Davis 8
Ann Derrick 60
Thomas Adams 13
William Amphlett 50
James Hooper 75
Hannah Hest 10
Mary Hest 8
Jane Hest 6
Hannah Hope 30
William Hope 8
James Hope 6
Emma Hope 2
Elizabeth Hodges 15
Ann Hill 75
Sarah Haylings 25
Thomas Morris 10
Roseanna Fletcher 10
Ann Hyde 30
George Hyde 3
Ann Jenks 6
Thomas Hunt 7
Daniel Matthew 40
Francis Webster 60
Jenetta Pantall 25
James Pantall 7
William Pantall 5
Frederick Pantall 1
John Pantall 80
William Roberts 60
Joseph Roberts 60
Henry Tompkins 60
Ann Tompkins 60
Edward Gibbons 8
Susan Protherus 40
Ann Protherus 12
Comfort Protherus
John Protherus 5
Emma Protherus 1
John Yeats 75
Ellen Brookes 13
William Dutson 50
Ann Hill 35
James Hill 8
Samuel Hill 6
Eliza Hill 9 mths
William Jenkins 10
Richard Jenkins 6
James Pritchard 85
Sarah Heywood 9
Richard Saunders 75
James Davis 65
John Jones 65
Thomas Jones 6
Caroline Jones 8
William Herbutt 6
Sarah Taylor 20
John Taylor 11
James Munn 6
William Munn 3
Joseph Howell 20
Harriet Williams 13
William Farley 7
Margaret Morris 7
Thomas Potter 14
Caroline Sandford 10
Susan Sandford 7
Thomas Sandford 4
John Saunders 14
Mary Toney 10
Daniel Suff (?) 3
Maria Turner 55
Caroline Morgan 20
John Davies 50
Elizabeth Griffiths 60
Maria Lissiman 35
Elizabeth Lissiman 9
Maria Lissiman 6
Mary Mason 75
John Eustius 13
Louisa Eustius 13
Thomas Holder 5
Jane Hill 25
Benjamin Jenkinson
Ann Lancett 35
John Lancett 7
Amelia Lancett 2