Workhouse / Hospital

The former workhouse in the 1980s
The former Workhouse (later Winslow Hospital) in the 1980s. The building at the front is the Master's House, designed by Sir George Gilbert-Scott.

Article by Glenys Warlow on poor relief in Winslow and the history of the Workhouse: workhouse.pdf

Old workhouseBefore the Poor Law Reform Act of 1834, towns such as Winslow had their own workhouses. An Account of Several Work-houses for Employing and Maintaining the Poor (1725) lists Winslow as having a workhouse, which was built after the Poor Relief Act of 1722. In Aug 1722, trustees acquired from Daniel Gyles 6 tenements "at the Townesend of Winslowe near the Cowe Street [=High Street], the common road west, the close of Robert Lowndes esq. in the occupation of William Gibbs east" for the parish officers to make a workhouse. A parliamentary report of 1777 says there was space for 20 inmates. The building described below on the same site as the earlier one, was on the east side of the High Street, approximately where nos.56-58 now stand (they were built in 1926). After it went out of use as a workhouse it was converted back into cottages, and later included Benbow's confectioner's shop. It is the partly thatched building in the photo on the right. Its demolition was reported in the Buckingham Advertiser of 8 May 1926: "The half-timbered and thatched building ... Many years ago it was the parish workhouse and the last house in what was then Cow Street (now High Street)."

1784, 5 April: Northampton Mercury
Wanted, A Person properly qualified, and of good Character, that will undertake to Instruct and Employ the POOR in WINSLOW WORKHOUSE, in some Manufactory Business; and will engage for the entire Providing, Maintaining and Clothing the Poor of the said Parish of Winslow, in the County of Bucks. To enter upon the Workhouse at Easter next.
For Particulars, apply to the Overseers of Winslow aforesaid.

1787, 5 May: Northampton Mercury
WANTED immediately, A sober Person in some Manufacturing Business, who is willing to contract for the Maintenance and Employment of the POOR of the Parish of  WINSLOW, in the County of Bucks, till Easter-Tuesday, next. He is to reside and board in the Work-House, and see that the Poor are properly employed.
      Proposals will be received by the Churchwardens and Overseers of the Poor of Winslow aforesaid.
  The Building intended to employ the Poor in has been lately erected, and consists of seven Bay*.
   N.B. a Man with his Wife only will not be objected to.

* A bay was the distance between vertical crucks or main timbers. Such bays were from 12 to 15 feet wide, so this newly constructed Work-House would have been 84-105 feet long.

Frederic Morton Eden, The State of the Poor vol.2 (1797), p.30
The Poor are maintained, partly, at a work-house, and, partly, at their own houses. 16 Paupers are at present in the work-house, under the care of a Contractor, who farms them at 3s. a week each, and is like-wise allowed their earnings: he received only 2s. a week before the late dearness of provisions took place. The people in the house are old women and children, and one man. Lace-making is their chief employment. Their diet is not regulated by any particular bill of fare.

The workhouse in the High Street was replaced in 1824, when the former George Inn next to The Bell was bought by the parish overseers, who were planning to erect a new building there. There was also a change from lace-making to straw-plaiting as the paupers' employment.

Arthur Clear, The Kings Village in Demesne: or a Thousand Years of Winslow Life (1894), p.117
At the back of the Bell hotel is a block of buildings now used as a malthouse, stables, etc. These at one time formed the Parish workhouse, Straw Plaiting School for boys, and a Millhouse in which the unemployed were set to work grinding corn by hand; here also was a lock up for misdemeanants.

1821, 3 Nov: Northampton Mercury
WANTED, a MAN and his WIFE (if without a Family the more desirable), qualified to CONTRACT for and UNDERTAKE the MAINTENANCE and EMPLOYMENT in the Straw Plait, or some other Business of the Poor, residing in and out of the Poorhouse, and belonging to the Parish of Winslow, Bucks.
Proper References for Character and Abilities, and Security for the true Performance of the Contract, will be required.
Applications and Tenders are desired to be made (free of Expense) to the CHURCHWARDENS and OVERSEERS of Winslow, aforesaid; or Mr. CHARLES WILLIS, their Solicitor, on or before TUESDAY the 13th NOVEMBER next, on which Day a Meeting of the Select Vestry of the said Parish is intended to take Place at the Parish Church there, precisely at Six o’Clock in the Evening, for the Purpose of entering into such Contract.
Winslow, 31st October.

1823, 16 Aug: Northampton Mercury
THE Inhabitants of WNSLOW, Bucks, being desirous of TAKING DOWN the PRESENT WORKHOUSE of the said PARISH, and ERECTING a NEW ONE, suitable for at Least one Hundred Paupers, any Persons wishing to Contract for the same, are hereby required to deliver Plans and Estimates, on or before the First Day of September next, to the CHURCHWARDENS and OVERSEERS of the said Parish, or Mr. CHARLES WILLIS, their Attorney, of whom further Particulars may be had.
Winslow, 6th August, 1823.

1823, mentioned in Essex Standard, 5 Aug 1836
N.B. The introduction of a parochial corn mill, at Winslow, worked by manual labour, was recommended by me in 1823 to Mr. Lowndes, who advanced £1,000, subject to repayment, for the erection of the workhouse.  To carry this object into effect, I proposed that twelve respectable inhabitants of Winslow should first try the experiment of working the mill, before the paupers had commenced working it.  This was done, and the result of the trial of the new system was, that the rates were reduced from £2,259 12s. 0½ d. in 1825, to £1,283 18s. 7d. in 1826; thus saving in one year the large sum of £975 13s. 5½ d.  The adoption of the mill was advocated by me upon the attention of Earl Pomfret’s stewards in 1817-18, but was not taken up, or it would have produced more beneficial results, with those so distinguishedly recommended by me, for the system of publishing the weekly and quarterly expenditure of parishes, which were honoured by the approval of Mr. Vansittart, Earl Spencer, the Duke of Rutland, Lord Milton, and others, of which I sent a considerable distribution throughout England, for the advantages being also derived by the Nation, in eradicating innumerable abuses which parishes were much subject to, during the continuance of the war, and which then became so urgently requisite for correction by every equitable measure which could be divised.   I have to regret that I did not use much further energy for publicity with both of those measures at the important crisis (1817), and which left no alternative for the surety of redress of several millions sterling, by an annual reduction of at least one-third of the parochial rates, for the mutual benefit of the tenant and the landlord.
Towcester, June 4th, 1836.

1824, 16 Oct: Northampton Mercury
WANTED immediately, A MAN and his WIFE, free of Incumbrance, to SUPERINTEND the MANAGEMENT of a WORKHOUSE.
They must have a good Recommendation as to Honesty, Sobriety, and Industry.
Apply personally, or by Letter, Post paid, to D. GRACE, Overseer, Winslow, Bucks.

1827, 7 April: Northampton Mercury
WANTED, A MILLER, to undertake the Management of A MILL worked by Men at the Poor House.  A Person of good Character, and capable of Baking for the House, will be referred.
Apply personally, or by Letter, Post paid, to the OVERSEERS of Winslow aforesaid.

1827, 11 Aug: Northampton Mercury (letter to the editor)
By the seasonable aid W. Selby Lowndes, Esq., of Whaddon Hall, the parish of Winslow has been enabled to establish a workhouse, on the correct principles mentioned in the latter part of the preceding extract.  The idle have been stimulated to useful exertion, the refractory have been restrained, and the helplessness of infancy and old age have had comfortable support.  It is quite gratifying to see those children, who were formerly clothed in tattered garments, and were a trouble to all around them, now neatly clad, and carefully brought up in industrious habits.  The poor are in a much better condition, and those who support them have both much less trouble and expense.  The latter will be evident, when it is known that the expense of of [sic] the poor at Winslow, in 1825, was £2,259. 12s. 0d½. and in 1826, was only £1,283.18s. 7d. thus saving £975. 13s. 5d½. with a prospect of still greater reduction.  The expense of conducting the Workhouse at Winslow would be much diminished by permitting the villages in the neighbourhood to incorporate with them.  While these villages would assist in the re-payment of the borrowed money and in paying the Officers’ salaries, and all the other expenses of the house, they would support their own poor.- Thus, as it regards expense, Winslow would, in every way, be benefitted and the adjoining villages would have it in their power to send their poor to a well-regulated workhouse at a moderate rate, without being at a greater charge, in building a house, than, under existing circumstances, they can well afford.
                                                            I am, your’s, &c. J.B.
Aug. 3d, 1827.

1831, 30 April: Northampton Mercury
THE Overseers of the poor of the parish of WINSLOW, Bucks, are desirous of CONTRACTING for the MAINTENANCE of the POOR in the PARISH WORKHOUSE up to Lady Day next, at [blank] per head per week. The Contractor will have the use of the house ready furnished, with an excellent Bakehouse and will be intitled to the earnings of the surplus labourers, and to the profits of the mill (which will be put into, and kept in repair) and of the plaiting school. He will be required to reside with his wife, in the workhouse, to keep the parish accounts, and act generally as assistant to the overseers. There are at present 39 paupers in the workhouse.
A man with a wife, but no family, will be preferred. – Respectable references, as to competency, &c. must be given. 
A PARISH VESTRY will be held on Tuesday, 3d May next, for the purpose of taking into consideration such offers as may have been previously made;  but the Overseers do not undertake that the lowest offer will be accepted.
Letters, stating terms and references, to be addressed, post paid, to the OVERSEERS of the POOR, Winslow; from whom any further information required may be obtained.
Winslow, 20th April, 1831.

1832    Land Tax 
Parish Officers (owners), Geo Grace (occupier): Workhouse, 15s 0d

Under the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 the old parish-by-parish arrangements were to be replaced with new unions of parishes based on one workhouse. The Poor Law Commissioners sent round inspectors to investigate local conditions, and this is the first report for Winslow.

National Archives, MH12/512 no.24

Winslow Bucks
16 Dec 1834
I beg to occquaint you that I arrived at this place on Tuesday afternoon and immediately proceeded with my letter to Sir Thomas Freemantle who I found was absent and I have not yet had the pleasure of seeing him. In the evening I had interviews with the parish Officers of this place and found that all  parties were much opposed to being united with other parishes and indeed there at a Vestry Meeting some short time previous strong resolutions of opposition had been passed. Their objections arose from the fact of the parish having lately incurred a considerable expense in purchasing a Workhouse and erecting a hand corn mill and conceiving that by an union they may again be called upon to contribute to the expenses of building or adding to a Workhouse.

The next morning Saturday I inspected the Workhouse and met there the Chairman of the Vestry the Clergyman and others whose opinion influence the parish and was glad to find before I left them that they had altered their opinions and subject to a question of whether the parish had  the Power to sell the Workhouse all agreed in the advantages to be derived by an Union.

In the afternoon I visited the parishes of Grandborough North Marston Oving Dunton and Hogston and the Parish Officers & Magistrates whom I saw expressed their satisfaction with the Poor Law Amendment Act and desires of being united with others

I found all these parishes in a wretched state of managements and no poor houses

In the Evening I again had interviews with the Officers & others of this place and went into their accounts.

On the Sunday I had the pleasure of seeing Sir Harry Verney who is a strong supporter of the present measure and a most active man in all affairs in this part of the Country. There is a large fine Mansion in this village that is excellently adapted to the purpose of a Workhouse for this Union belonging to a Mr Lowndes a Gentleman of large fortune. Sir Harry considered it probable that this house may be purchased or hired for the purpose. I however yesterday called upon Mr Lowndes at [deletion] Whaddon Park and found that he would on no consideration part with this House and I have not yet seen any building that could be well used for Workhouse purposes. On Monday I had Officers from many of the surrounding Parishes and I was engaged with them all day. They were all favorable to the proposal of Union and Indeed throughout the Country although was[?] at first opposition it universally gave way upon the benefits to arise from the New Measure being fully explained to them. I have made out a list of the surrounding parishes that I conceive might most eligibly form an Union of which Winslow should be the Centre and am engaged in taking the accounts of the number which in the last week under the Classes of
Infirm       { men
                { women
Able bodied { men
                { women

The amounts of the rates of the several parishes for the last 3 years and making the Averages both with a view to rating them to contributing to the expences of building the Workhouses. I am to see the owner of some land adjoining this which I consider could be a situation for a workhouse and when I have completed these enquiries with which I am proceeding as expeditiously as I can I shall be prepared to report to you the result of my enquiries.

Today at the suggestion of Mr Thos Cotton Sheffard who has called on me and is favorable to the Measure and of Sir H Verney & others I shall go to Aylesbury to the great meeting  as it is expected I might there find the opportunity of communicating with the Duke of Buckingham & Marquis of Chandos.

Tomorrow I attend a Vestry at Steeple Claydon and go through that part of the Country to see the Officers and on Saturday I attend a bench of the Magistrates at Buckingham.

The Books of all the parishes are so badly kept and without exception all the Overseers so incapable of giving any intelligent answers to my questions that much delay is occasioned and having no one here to assist I hope you will consider I am under the circumstances making as much progress as I can.

I have the Honor to be
Your mo(st) obt Servant
W J Gilbert [signature]

1835, 28 Feb: Northampton Mercury
WANTED, a MAN and his WIFE (without incumbrance), to reside in and MANAGE the PARISH WORKHOUSE of WINSLOW, Bucks. The man will also be required to superintend the Surplus Labourers, to keep the Parish Accounts, and to act generally in assisting the Overseers. - Respectable references, as to competency, &c. must be given.
   A Vestry will be held at the Workhouse, on Wednesday the 11th of March next, at Eleven o'clock in the forenoon, for the purpose of taking into consideration such offers as may be then or previously made.
   Letters (post paid), stating terms & references, or requiring further information, to be addressed to the Overseers, or Messrs. Willis & Son, Solicitors, Winslow.
   24th February, 1835.

1835: assault by paupers on George Grace the assistant overseer

1835: minutes of the Board of Guardians, who discussed whether to build a new workhouse or alter the old one

This letter to the Poor Law Commissioners concerns the appointment of the first officers and guardians under the new system.

National Archives, MH12/512

Winslow, 19th June 1835


I have the honor to inform you that a meeting of the Board of Guardians for the Winslow Union was held this morning and to transmit[?] you copies[?] of two resolutions by which you will observe that they have appointed me as clerk[?].  I hope to be favored by your approval of that appointment

The election of a Treasurer for the Union was postponed in consequence of the person proposed for the situation being one of the Guardians. There appeared a desire[?] on the part of the board to elect him, considering that his residence within Winslow rendered it both desirable and convenient to do so but as a doubt was expressed[?] as to his eligibility by reason of his acting also as a Guardian it was decided [?] to defer his appointment and obtain your opinion on the subject. There is no other[?] bank within the Union.

I have the honor to be Gentn.
Your very obedt. Servant
Dav Tho Willis [signature]
Clerk to the Board of Guardians for the Union at Winslow, Bucks

The Poor Law Commissioners,
Somerset House, London

1835, 13 June: Bucks Herald
Contract for Bread.
THE Board of Guardians are desirous of receiving offers from persons willing to Contract for a Supply of a sufficient quantity of Good Second Bread for the use of this Union, till Michaelmas next, at [ ] per loaf of 4 pounds.  Security will be required for the performance of the Contract.  Sealed Tenders, with names and address of sureties, to be delivered (free of carriage) at the Clerk’s Office, in Winslow, by 8 o’clock on Monday morning, 22nd June instant.
Clerk to the Board of Guardians.
11th June 1835.

1835: List of people still receiving outdoor relief and some who were in the Workhouse but wanted to leave.

When Winslow became the centre of its own Poor Law Union with a statutory workhouse (built to the north of the then High Street in an extension which became known as Union Street), the old building was redundant, as well as the 42 cottages which the overseers had acquired.

The 1601 Poor Law gave churchwardens and overseers the right to build cottages for 'impotent paupers', and they also bought existing cottages. After 1780 parishes sometimes acquired cottages by taking over repairs from absentee landlords, or by taking ownership of a cottage in return for providing poor relief to the inhabitants. The Act of 1834 enforced the sale of all these properties, of which Winslow had an unusually high number. See J. Broad, "Housing the rural poor in southern England", Agricultural History Review 48 (2000).

National Archives, MH12/512 no.24a

Winslow, 8th December 1835


Winslow Union
I have the honor to inform you that a general Vestry of the inhabitants of Winslow has been held pursuant to public notice for “adopting such measures as ay be beneficial for disposing of the parish cottages  tenements gardens and premises belonging to the parish of Winslow” at which meeting it was unanimously agreed that the same should be sold. In pursuance of that resolution application has been made to the board of guardians for their sanction to such sale, and the guardians have[?] at the weekly meetings held 30th ult and yesterday (the latter being attended by a majority of the whole board) unanimously consented to the sale and I am instructed to notify the same to you that you may make such order thereon as you think proper.  I enclose[?] a list of the cottages which it is wished to dispose of, if purchasers can be found for them. Many of them have been in the possession of the parish officers for the time being during a long period and there will be great difficulty in shewing how they were first acquired or by what tenure they are held. A few are copyhold of inheritance of the Manor of Winslow with its Members and Trustees for the parish have been admitted to them. By whom and in what manner do you consider they ought to be conveyed to the purchasers?

I have also the honor to transmit a memorial  (signed by a majority of the Board of Guardians) to the Exchequer Bill Loan Commissioner applying for a loan of one thousand pounds in part of the amount which the Guardians are required[?] to borrow for purchasing land and erecting a workhouse. The buildings are rapidly advancing and the Contractors have very nearly finished that portion of work on the completion of which under the contract they are entitled to demand payment of their first instalment. It is therefore correctly requested that you be pleased to expedite the advance as much as possible.

At the meeting yesterday it was unanimously agreed, as well by the two guardians for Winslow as by the other guardians present, that fifty pounds per annum is fair rent to be allowed to the parish of Winslow for the workhouse and buildings since 31st August last when they were appropriated to the use of the Union, and the guardians accordingly recommend that such rent should be allowed.

I have the honor to remain          Gentlemen
Your very obedt. & Humble Servt.
Dav Tho  Willis [signature]

Clerk to the Board of Guardians for the Union at Winslow, Bucks
To The Poor Law Commissioners,
Somerset House, London

National Archives, MH12/512 no.24a: Winslow Parish Cottages

The document consists of a list followed by notes on individual cottages; the latter have been added at the appropriate places in the list.

No. 1. Three Thatched Cottages in the Buckingham Road, in the occupation of John Goodman, Philip Walker & Thomas Evans at the rent of 1s 8¾d per week

No. 2. Five Thatched Cottages, in Cow Street, in the occupation of Thomas Pigott, Joseph Evans, John Royce, Jane Walker, and Thomas Edwin at the rent of 1s 9¼d per week

No. 3. Two brick-built and tiled Cottages, in Cow Street, in the occupation of Henry Holt & William Verney at the rent of 2/- per week.

No. 4. Three Thatched Cottages, in Cow Street, in the occupation of Widow Lomath, John Walker & Thomas Walker at the rent of 1/4½ per week
For some of the cottages in the Buckingham road a quit rent of 8d is paid annually to the Lord of the manor of Winslow but it does not appear who are the trustees or when they were admitted.  At all events no admission has been granted for a great many years

No. 5. Seven Thatched Cottages, in Cow Street, in the occupation of Joseph Savings, Edward Smith, William Hawkins, Thomas Scott, Benjamin Yeates, William Bellow, and John Lomath, at the rent of 3/6[?] per week.

No. 6. Three Thatched Cottages, in Cow Street, in the occupation of James Yeulett, William Harris & John Sharp at the rent of 2/- per week.

No. 7. Five Thatched Cottages, in Cow Street, in the occupation of Joseph Seaton, James Gibbs, John Smith, John Goodger, and Henry Savings at the rent of 2/1½ per week.

No. 8. One Thatched Cottage, in Sheep Street, in the occupation of William Budd at the rent of 6d[?] per week
In 1822 the cottage in Sheep Street occupied by William Budd … was seized into the hands of the Lord of the Manor of Winslow for want of a tenant and was afterwards (in 1824) granted by the Lord as copyhold to Messrs Thomas Jones, Daniel Grace & George Cross junr (all of whom are living) and their heirs In trust to pay the rents &c to the Overseers of the Poor of the said parish of Winslow for the time being to be by them applied and disposed of for the benefit of the poor of the said parish for ever  Subject to an annual quit rent of 2d.

No. 9. Seven Thatched Cottages, in Great Horn Street, in the occupation of Daniel Walker, Joseph Smith, Mary Smith, Richard Alderman, John Goodman, William Ingram & Joseph Smith, at the rent of 2/5¼ per week.

No. 10. One Thatched Cottage in the occupation of George Wesley (situate near the Plough) [probably the site of 16 Church Street]
It appears by the Court Rolls of Winslow Manor that the cottage in Great Horn Street occupied by George Westley … was in 1771 surrendered by William Worsley (the Grandfather of the present occupant) to James Burnham John Gibbs and William Mead (all of whom have been dead many years) and their heirs  In trust to permit and suffer said William Worsley and Susanna his wife during their lives and the life of the longer liver of them to receive the rents &c (they keeping the premises in tenantable repair) and after their deceases to pay the rents to the Overseers of the poor … William Worsley and his wife have been dead many years and after their deaths their son Ralph Worsley occupied the premises and subsequently his widow did the same.  And after her death the present occupant took possession.  No[?] rent has since[?] been received[?] by the parish officers and they have never[?] paid  any quit rent or other[?] outgoing in respect of the premises or been at any expence except on two occasions within the last few years when they assisted in repairing them.  No admission has been granted of the premises since that in 1771 to which I have alluded.

No. 11. Three Thatched Cottages, in the Tinkers end, in the occupation of Richard Willmer, Hannah Tombs & John Cockerhill at the rent of 1/6 per week. [Not included in the 1837 sale; see below]

No. 12. One Thatched Cottage (in Tinkers end) in the occupation of John Reading at the rent of 6d per week
In 1819 John Godfrey surrendered the cottage in Claydon Lane now occupied by John Reading … to the use of George Cross junr, John Sleath Gent and John Morecraft (who are all living) and their heirs  In trust to pay the rents &c to the Overseers … subject to a yearly quit rent of 2d.

No. 13.  One Thatched Cotttage (in Tinkers end) in the occupation of John Dumbleton, at the rent of 6d per week
The Cottage in Claydon Lane occupied by John Dumbleton … has been built since 1819 on part of the garden belonging to the cottage surrendered by Godfrey and consequently is affected[?] by the same title.

National Archives, MH12/512: Sale of former workhouse

Request to the Guardians to apply to the Poor Law Commissioners for consent to sale
[Date stamp] RECEIVED P.L.C. DEC 3 1836

Parish of Winslow           
Winslow Union  
County of Bucks       
We the undersigned majority of the parish officers and we the undersigned Inhabitants of Winslow request you apply to the Poor Law Commissioners for England and Wales for their consent to the sale of the undermentioned premises belonging to the said parish and for their directions as to such sale and for the application of the produce thereof to the permanent advantage of the said parish.

All that messuage or tenement situate standing and being in Winslow aforesaid adjoining to the Bell Inn there, lately used as a temporary workhouse for the Winslow Union and previously as a workhouse for the said parish of Winslow with yards gardens and outbuildings thereto belonging. And also all there three cottages or tenements adjoining the above described messuage or tenement in the respective occupations of Sarah Price, William Warr and Richard Prentice.

The said premises are freehold, not subject to any quit rent, were purchased by the parish, and were in the month of February 1825 conveyed unto and to the use of the churchwardens overseers and assistant overseer of the said parish and their successors for the time being for ever In trust for the said parish of Winslow To and for the several intents and purposes and subject to the limitations[?] powers and restrictions mentioned and contained in the Act of 59 George 3rd intituled “An act to amend the laws for the relief of the poor”
The said premises cannot conveniently be used for the purposes of the Union[?] and we are of opinion that the sale thereof will be of permanent advantage to the said parish for the following reasons.

They are in a dilapidated state of repair. The messuage or tenement is empty, and the three cottages or tenements are occupied by paupers[?]

The said premises are estimated to be of the value of Eight hundred pounds and the cottages yield an annual rent of seven pounds three shillings

We are also of the opinion that it will be advisable to apply the proceeds of the sale after deducting the expenses thereof in the following manner to the permanent advantage of the parish.

To apply a sufficient part for the purpose to paying the share of the parish in the expences of erecting \and furnishing/ a workhouse for the said union; and the remainder[?] in such manner as the Poor Law Commissioners may see fit.

Dated this twenty fifth day of November 1836
Saml. Dudley      }  Churchwardens
John Bull            }
William Jones     }  Overseers
Thomas Edwin   } 
Joseph Neal       }  Inhabitants
John Dover        }
Char : Willis      }
James Morgan  }

Statement as to Title to property proposed to be sold
Parish of Winslow         
Winslow Union  

The Premises which the parish Officers and Inhabitants of Winslow Parish are desirous should be disposed of were bought by the parish in 1824 for £800, and on account of that sum and the further cost incurred in furnishing, alterations &c a loan of £1000 was borrowed on mortgage of the poor rates, the whole of which has been paid off by annual instalments. In the first instance the property was surrendered, as copyhold of a inheritance, by the then proprietor, to the use of Thomas Jones, Daniel Grace and George Cross Junr. and their Heirs. In Trust to pay the rents and profits of the premises to the Overseers of the poor of the parish of Winslow, for the time being, to be by them applied and disposed of for the benefit of the poor of the said parish for ever. And Messrs. Jones, Grace and Cross were afterwards duly admitted Tenants of the premises accordingly. A question was subsequently raised by Counsel, on his settling the draft security for the £1000 borrowed, as to the power to purchase copyhold property for the purposes of a Workhouse, and under his advice Messrs. Jones, Grace and Cross, the Trustees, surrendered the premises absolutely into the hands of the Lord of the Manor (W.S. Lowndes Esq)to the intent that he might do therewith his Will immediately after which Mr. Lowndes, pursuant to the powers given by the Acts of 22nd Geo. 3rd and 59th Geo. 3rd (the Manor being in Settlement under which he took an estate for life only) conveyed the property by Lease and Release as freehold unto John Markham and George Maydon (the then Churchwardens) George Hawley and Thomas Jones (the then Overseers) and Daniel Grace then Assistant Overseer as aforesaid and their successors for the time being for ever. In Trust for the said Parish of Winslow. To and for the several intents and purposes and subject to the directions powers and restrictions mentioned and contained in the therein recited Act of 59th Geo. 3rd.

If a full Abstract of the Conveyance to the parish Officers or any further explanation on the title be required before the Poor Law Commissioners issue any Order, it shall be immediately furnished.

[signed] Dav Tho Willis
Clerk to the Winslow Union
3rd December 1836

1837, 25 March: Bucks Herald

Extensive Freehold House & Premises
Three Cottages Adjoining,
Dudley & Son,

On Thursday, March 30th, 1837, in one lot, at the Bell Inn, Winslow, at six o’clock in the afternoon, by direction of the Board of Guardians of the Winslow Union, pursuant to the order of the Poor Law Commissioners.

ALL those Extensive Freehold Premises, known as the “Old Workhouse,” in Winslow, comprising a substantially brick-built and tiled house, containing two good parlours, hall, small sitting room, six large bed-rooms, pantry, kitchen and wash-house with coppers as fixed, large bakehouse with excellent oven and brewing copper, capital dry arched cellars, also a large building used as school and store rooms, with four bed-rooms over, newly erected mill-house with convenient lofts, stabling for eight horses, and covered gateway, surrounding three large yards conveniently divided by brick walls;  a very productive walled garden, planted with choice fruit trees, lead pump, and a tank for soft water; also adjoining are


each containing sitting room, bed rooms, and cellar, in the respective occupations of of [sic] Sarah Price, Richard Prentice, and Warr.   The whole is in good repair, advantageously situated in the centre of the town of Winslow, conveniently adapted for any trade or business where plenty of room and good buildings are required, and offers a safe and profitable investment.

For a view, apply to Mr. Chubb, at the new Workhouse, and for further particulars to David Thomas Willis, Esq., Clerk to the Board of Guardians, or to Messrs. Dudley and Son, Auctioneers and Land Agents;  all of Winslow.

According to the Board of Guardians minutes, an offer of £500 for the old workhouse was accepted; this must have been from Joseph Neal of The Bell.

1837, 21 Oct: Bucks Herald
Cottages at Winslow, Bucks.
To be sold by auction by Dudley & Son.
At the Bell Inn, in Winslow
on Friday, the 27th of October, 1837, at Five o'Clock in the Afternoon, by Order of the Poor Law Commissioners and of the Board of Guardians of the Winslow Union, (subject to such Conditions as will then be read).

LOT 1. Three Thatched Cottages in the Buckingham Road, in the occupation of John Goodman and Thomas Evans.

LOT 2. Five Thatched Cottages in the Buckingham Road, in the occupation of Hannah Pigot, Joseph Evans, John Royce, Jane Walker, and Thomas Edwin.

LOT 3. Two brick-built and tiled Cottages in the Buckingham Road, in the occupation of Henry Holt and William Verney.

LOT 4. Three Thatched Cottages in the Buckingham Road, in the occupation of John Saving, William Harris [=Harrison], and Thomas Walker.

LOT 5. Seven Thatched Cottages in the Buckingham Road, in the occupation of Joseph Saving, Edward Smith, William Hawkins, Thomas Scott, Moses Yates, William Bellow, and John Lomath.

LOT 6. Three Thatched Cottages in the Buckingham Road, in the occupation of James Yeulett, John Walker, and John Sharp.

LOT 7. One Thatched Cottage in Sheep Street, in the occupation of William Budd.

LOT 8. Five Thatched Cottages in the Buckingham Road, in the occupation of Joseph Seaton, James Gibbs, John Smith, John Goodger, and Henry Saving.

LOT 9. Seven Thatched Cottages in Great Horn Street, in the occupation of Daniel Walker, Philip Walker, Mary Smith, Richard Alderman, Eleanor Goodman, William Ingram, and Joseph Gibbs.

LOT 10. One Thatched Cottage in Claydon Lane, in the occupation of John Reading.

LOT 11. One Thatched Cottage in Claydon Lane, in the occupation of John Dumbleton.

LOT 12. One Thatched Cottage in Great Horn Street, near the Plough public house, in the occupation of Elizabeth Westley.

Further particulars may be had on application (if by Letter, post paid) to Mr. David Thomas Willis, Clerk to the Board of Guardians, or the Auctioneers, Winslow.

None of these tenants was in the Workhouse in 1841 (with the possible exception of Mary Smith, but there were several people with that name), and some were almost certainly living in the same houses, e.g. William Ingram, Joseph Gibbs, Elizabeth Westley. The men who can be found in the census were nearly all agricultural labourers. Many of them were living in nearby houses on the east side of the High Street (which is what Buckingham Road means in the 1837 advert) in 1841, probably around the site of the old Workhouse: Henry Holt, William Hawkins, John Saving, Thomas Walker, Joseph Smith, Edward Smith, Mary Smith (if it's the same one), Thomas Edwin, John Royce, William Bellow, James Yeulett, John Walker, John Lomath, William Verney.

According to Mr Monk, former parish surveyor, in 1896: "the road as far as Mrs. Loffler's gate had been a parish road for 150 years, and the property upon both sides was oriiginally parish property, and was sold to help build the present Union House." (Buckingham Advertiser, 8 Feb 1896) - this would mean 66 and 68 High Street.

The purchasers of the properties are listed in the Guardians' minutes (30 Oct 1837). They all appear to be local.

1837, 21 Oct: Bucks Herald
Winslow, Bucks.
On FRIDAY, the 27th of OCTOBER, 1837, at Five in the Afternoon, at the Bell Inn, Winslow, by order of the Overseers.
A CAPITAL CRANK CORN MILL, working two pair of Stones, with excellent cast iron machinery, in good repair, constructed to work either by hand or with horse, now standing at the Old Workhouse, Winslow.
Any Union or person requiring such a Mill, will find this an excellent opportunity, it having been erected within these few years, and will be Sold without reserve.
For a view, apply to the Parish Officers, or to the Auctioneers, Winslow.

The sale of the former workhouse and cottages led to this correspondence about what to do with the proceeds:

National Archives, MH12/513 no.24

 [Date stamp] RECEIVED P.L.C. JUNE 26 1838

Winslow June 25th 1838
Winslow parish Sale process
I am instructed by the Board of Guardians to transmit you copy of the resolution of a vestry held at Winslow on the 21st Inst and to inform you that they see no objection to the appropriation of the balance of the sale proceeds in the manner desired by the Vestry.
I beg to observe that the parish engine was usually kept on the old workhouse premises up to the time of their being sold, and that one of the outbuildings in the yard of those premises was used as a cage but was so situated that it was found impracticable to reserve it when the sale took place
I have the honor to remain    Gentn
Your most obed(ien)t. Ser(van)t
Dav Tho Willis,
Clerk to the Union

To The Poor Law Commissioners,
Somerset House,

At a General Vestry held at the Vestry Room in Winslow Church on Thursday the 21st day of June 1838 pursuant to public notice to take into consideration the propriety of applying to the Poor Law Commissioners for an order for appropriation of the balance remaining in the name of  the Treasurer of the Winslow Union from the sale of the parish Cottages to such purposes as may be deemed most beneficial to the parish.
Mr Samuel Greaves Dudley Churchwarden in the Chair
John Cowley Daniel Grace David Thomas Willis  Thomas Lomath  Joseph Neal Joseph King Alfred Barton

Resolved immediately that application be made to the Poor Law Commissioners through the Board of Guardians of the Winslow Union for their sanction to the application of a loan of £465-14-2 remaining from the sale of the parish Cottages as under

The sum of £75-5-6 to be applied towards the expenses of erecting a cage and engine house

The sum of £90-8-8 to be paid in discharge of the expenses of the new assessments made of the rateable property in this parish

The balance of £300 to be (at the option of the Poor Law Commissioners) retained till a further order is issued by them for its application, or to be disposed of by the parish immediately in apprenticing poor children or invested and the interest with or without a portion of the principal, annually applied in such apprenticeship


Poor Law Commission Office,
Somerset Place,
July 28 1838.

D. T. Willis Esq
Clk to the Union

Par(is)h Prop(osa)ls relat(in)g to approp(riatio)n. of Sale proceeds
The poor Law Commissioners for England and Wales have to acknowledge the Receipt of your letter of the 22nd  Ultimo and with reference to the approp(riatio)n. of the Sale proceeds belong(in)g to the Parish of Winslow desie to state that the first object to which money derived from the Sale of Parish Prop(ert)y ought should to be applied to the liquidation of Money lent for the erection of the Union Workhouse.  The Com(missi)on. have therefore to request that you will inform them what proportion of the cost of erect(in)g the Workh(ous)e to be contributed by the Parish of Winslow remains undischarged & when that information is furnished the Com(missi)on. will be prepared to issue an order directing the pay(men)t of the quota of the Parish to the Union Workh(ous)e and the residue if any to any of the other purposes specified in the Resolution of the Vestry Except(in)g the apprenticing of Poor Children it being an object which cannot be deemed for the permanent advantage of the Parish.

Under the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 poor relief was only meant to be paid to those who entered the workhouse, but until a new workhouse was built outdoor relief continued at a lower rate, presumably in return for work at the old workhouse.

Bucks Herald, 19 March 1836
The following is a copy of a petition sent to Lord Chandos for presentation to the House of Commons:-
To the Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, in Parliament assembled.

The Humble Petition of the Poor Inhabitants of the several Parishes situate in the Winslow Union, in the county of Bucks.

  Sheweth that they have suffered by the operation of the Bill entitled the Poor Law Amendment Bill and beg leave Humbly to Petition your Honourable House for the abatement of so oppressive a measure.  Your Humble Petitioners, who belong to a purely Agricultural District, have long felt the annual return of winter bring the annual want of labour, and its natural consequence, want of parish relief; which heretofore was barely sufficient, and under the new system is quite inadequate to enable us to exist.

  That although we have not been so unfortunate as to experience distress in the greatest extreme, as through an understanding or agreement amongst the farmers in parishes where twenty or thirty men have, in the winter, been unemployed and obliged to take parish relief, not more than from twelve to fifteen have been unemployed this; yet, feeling that had such an agreement been broken a great number of us should be added to the list of truly unfortunate sufferers, who have been compelled to walk morning and evening to and from our respective parishes to Winslow, (which distances vary from twelve to three miles per day.) and there perform our daily task of work at the rate of one shilling per head per week for ourselves and families, 1¼d. per head per day.  Each man, woman, and child, that having solicited the Board of Guardians, and memorialized the Poor Law Commissioners for redress without effect, we humbly implore the interference of your Honourable House, and your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.

National Archives, MH12/512 no.76 Resignation and replacement of master and mistress, 1837

Original ref: 4623a [Date stamp] RECEIVED P.L.C. MAY 23 1837

Letter addressed to the Poor Law Commissioners

Winslow 22d. May 1837
Winslow Union

I have the honor to transmit you a copy of the resolution passed by the Guardians of the above Union at their weekly meeting held this day and on their behalf request your further instructions therein.
“Resolved that Hubert John Chubb and his wife be suspended from their situations as master and matron of the workhouse so soon as proper persons can be selected to succeed them, in consequence of him having permitted meat to be brought into the house for consumption, of a different quality than that contracted for, and of having been guilty of other acts of misconduct. And that the Clerk be instructed to report such suspension with the cause thereof to the Poor Law Commissioners”.
The above resolution has not yet been communicated to Chubb.

I have the honor to remain Gentn
Your very obed(ien)t. Servant
Dav Tho Wllis,
Clerk to the Union

Acknowledgement Form [partly printed pro forma]       

Poor Law Commission Office,
Somerset Place,
London 26 27 May 1837.

[details of original letter repeated] Before they take any steps for the dismissal of this officer they think it right to state that although the resolution has not been made known to him while they presume the dereliction of duty with which he has been charged has been stated to it him in order  that he may might have the opportunity of making any observations or of offering any evidence in his own defence. Though the C(ommissi)on. do not doubt that this has been done while they think it right to make the enquiry before taking so serious a step as that of dismissing an officer.

Winslow Union

THE Guardians of the Poor of the above Union are desirous of appointing a Man and his Wife, without incumbrance, of good health and unquestionable character, to be MASTER and MATRON of the new Workhouse in Winslow. They will be required to reside constantly in the Workhouse, where they will be provided with lodging and rations. The Master must write a good hand and be conversant with accounts. The average number of inmates in the house, during the last six months, has been below 60.

The appointment will take place, at the Guardians Meeting, to be held at the Workhouse, on Monday, 19th June next, at 10 o'clock, when the PERSONAL attendance is required of candidates for these situations.

References and testimonials to character and competency, with specimens of the Man's writing, to be delivered (free of carriage) at the office of Mr. David Thomas Willis (the Clerk to the Union), in Winslow not later than Friday, 16th June.

A SCHOOLMISTRESS is also wanted, to instruct the girls in the workhouse, the average number has been about 10 or 12.

DAV. THO. WILLIS, Clerk to the Union.
Winslow, Bucks, 30th May, 1837.


2nd letter to commissioners

Winslow Union Meeting Monday
David Thomas Willis Winslow Clerk
Suspension of Master & Matron
Winslow 31st May 1837

In reply to your letter of 27th inst (No. 4623 A) relative to the suspension of Hubert John Chubb and his wife from their duties as master and matron of the Workhouse. I am directed by the Board of Guardians of the Winslow Union to inform you that the dereliction of duty imputed to Chubb was stated to him, and he had the opportunity of making any observations or of offering any evidence in his defence. At the meeting yesterday the resolution of the previous meeting and your letter were read to Chubb who at a subsequent period of the meeting, after consulting with his wife, tendered to the board the resignations of both of them. These resignations have been accepted by the Board, and it has been arranged that they shall continue in their situations till the end of the present quarter, to give the guardians the opportunity of appointing proper persons to succeed them. I am instructed to inform you of what has taken place, and to state that as the board did not bring forward any charges against Chubb and his wife affecting their character for honesty or general good behaviour they do not wish to press for their dismissal by you.

I have the honor to remain Gentn
Your most obed(ien)t. Serv(an)t
Dav Tho Wllis, Clerk

2nd acknowledgment form, dated June 3 1837

[repeats details of 2nd letter] The Cm. desire to express their acquiescence in the proceedings adopted by the Gns. in this matter & their approval of the arrangement that Chubb & his wife shall continue to hold their offices until the end of the present quarter.

3rd letter to commissioners

Winslow Union Weekly Meeting Monday
David Thomas Willis, Winslow, Clerk.
Appointments of Master & Matron
Winslow 19th June 1837

I am directed by the Guardians of the above Union to inform you that they have this day appointed Thomas Willetts and Frances his wife to be master and matron of the Union workhouse with a salary of £60 per Annum and an allowance equal to three able bodied paupers ; and to solicit your sanction to such appointment. Willetts is at this time porter and his wife schoolmistress in the new Workhouse at Banbury.

I have the honor to remain Gentn
Your most obed(t. Servt
Dav Tho Wllis, Clerk

Winslow Union letterhead
Letterhead used for later correspondence with the Poor Law Commission

The new Workhouse had a master's house designed by George Gilbert Scott, and capacity for 250 inmates. See Board of Guardians for more information about the building. It catered for a union of 17 parishes extending to North Marston, Stewkley and Shenley, with a very small population compared to the other Poor Law unions in Bucks. It was run by a master and matron, and the Guardians later advertised for a schoolmaster:

View of the Workhouse1840, 9 May: Bucks Herald
The Guardians of the poor of the WINSLOW UNION wish to engage with a young Single Man as Schoolmaster for the Union Workhouse. He will be required to reside constantly in the house, (where he will be provided with board and lodging) to instruct the boys in reading, writing, and the principles of the Christian religion, and to assist the Master of the Workhouse in the performance of his duties, and in the maintenance of order and due subordination in the house.
   Testimonials to character and competency will be required.
   Candidates for the situation are requested to attend the Board of Guardians at their weekly meeting, to be held at the Union Workhouse, in Winslow, on Monday, the 18th of May instant, at Ten o’Clock in the forenoon, or, previously thereto, to send testimonials with specimens of writing, to Mr. DAVID THOMAS WILLIS, Solicitor, Winslow, the Clerk to the Union.
   Winslow, 4th May, 1840.

1841: census return for Winslow Workhouse
Thomas Willietts was Master and his wife, Frances was Matron. He died in January 1842, aged 38.

Hannah McDaniel the teenage schoolmistress was replaced in 1842 when there was an advert for "a SCHOOLMISTRESS (without incumbrance) for the female children", to teach "reading, writing, arithmetic, the principles of the Christian religion, knitting and plain needle work" (Northampton Mercury, 30 July 1842).

The establishment of the Winslow Union led to a dispute between the constituent parishes about how much they should contribute:

1841, 13 Feb: Bucks Herald
The rating of the Winslow Union Workhouse, which caused so much commotion amongst the Guardians of the neighbouring parishes in which the Union stands, is, we are happy to hear, at length amicably arranged.

1841, 3 April: Bucks Herald
The amount of assessment of the Workhouse, of the Winslow Union, which has so long been in agitation with that and the other parishes of the Union, has now every appearance of speedily being brought to a decision, by the appointment of two competent persons to arbitrate between the conflicting parties.

1841, 7 Aug: Bucks Herald
The amount of assessment on the new workhouse in this union, still continues to furnish matter for contention. The parishioners, desirous of pacific measures, have propounded a proposition to the other parishes by which they are willing to make a great concession on the sum originally levied; but the inflexible tenacity of position taken up by the latter, appears to leave no alternative than an appeal to judicial proceedings.

There was also a dispute about the auditor:

1845, 27 Nov: Bath Chronicle
POOR LAW UNION AUDITORS. – The Queen v. Willis. – In the Bail Court on Monday, the Attorney-General applied on behalf of the Poor Law Commissioners, for a mandamus commanding David Thomas Willis, clerk to the guardians of the Winslow (Bucks) Union, to produce the accounts of the union.  It would appear that an auditor had been appointed for auditing the accounts of the Winslow Union, and there was another union called the Buckingham Union, of which two unions a person of the name of Cowley had been appointed auditor.  The Poor Law Commissioners had subsequently directed that 19 unions should be incorporated, including Bucks and Winslow, and over all these a Mr. Haward was appointed auditor by the commissioners; but the guardians of the Winslow Union had refused to produce their accounts.  The question therefore was, whether the commissioners had this power.  Mr. Justice Patteson said it was proper to be considered, and therefore he granted the rule.

Arthur Clear: A Thousand Years of Winslow Life (1888), p.18 on the poor rate

Another aspect of that time is certainly a more pleasing one, for the number of destitute poor must have been very few, and the demands of the Rate Collector correspondingly small, as the following extracts from the Overseers' Accounts will show :-"Receipts and Disbursments of the Overseers of the Poor for the Parish of Winslow for the year 1679. - Receipts £45 4s. 4d.; Disburst £44 6s. 0d." "Receipts and Disbursments of Peter Lowndes and Robert Gibbs, Overseers of the Poor for the Parish of Winslow for the year 1703.- Recd. £93 14s. Id.; Disburst £95 15s. 10½d" …

Just previous to the introduction of the new Poor Law, the Poor Rates at Winslow had increased to 17s. in the Pound, and the Overseer paid the Poor with a pair of pistols lying by his side ready to protect the cash and himself.

The Workhouse provided the only public medical facility in Winslow, and people who were not inmates are recorded as dying there.

Poisoned pregnant girl dies in Winslow Workhouse (by Ed Grimsdale, information from Northampton Mercury)

In 1845, Ann Ray was the only female attendant in the house of farmer Duncombe. Francis Fleet was a shepherd working on that farm in Dunton. Those working on the farm had gossiped that Francis was having an affair with Ann. On 26 June, Fleet had been working all morning with other men in the rickyard and told them at 1pm that he was going into the house to get bread and cheese from “the gal”.  In fact, he gave her some “corrosive sublimate” or mercury (II) chloride, a deadly poison used on sheep. Although reluctant to drink the mixture of mercury chloride and water that Fleet had mixed, Ann relented under pressure from him. She fell violently ill immediately and suffered terrible agonies. Ann stated that she was two months pregnant by Francis Fleet and that he had tried to get rid of her pregnancy, without success, on an earlier occasion. Fleet was arrested after a rag containing the poison was found on his person. Ann Ray was transferred by gig from Dunton to Winslow Workhouse on 9 July 1845. She grew rapidly worse, an ulcer burst, and Ann died in the Workhouse from “exhaustion” on 21 July.

The jury at Fleet’s trial during Aylesbury’s Assizes in March 1846 found Fleet guilty of murder through administering a poison to effect abortion. Judge Baron Parke put on the black cap and sentenced Francis Fleet to death. The jury begged the judge to show mercy as Francis had not meant to kill Ann, and he had showed concern over her suffering. The judge said he would communicate their concerns to the proper quarters, but he did not hold out any prospect of mercy in this life.

In 1850, there was a scandal about the Master of the Workhouse misappropriating funds, which ended up with a case at the Bucks Assizes:

1850, 30 Nov: Bucks Herald: Winslow Special Petty Session, 25 Nov
James Spicer, late master of the Winslow Union Workhouse, was brought up in custody of Mr R. Ossitt, high constable of Winslow, charged with having on the 18th of April, 1850, at Winslow, feloniously offered, uttered, and disposed of a certain receipt, purporting to be given by one Peter Fisher, to the Guardians of Winslow Union, for £57 10s., with intend to defraud the Guardians, knowing the same to be forged.
D.T. Willis Esq., Clerk to the Union, on oath proved – That at a meeting of the Guardians in December last he, as clerk, issued an order for Peter Fisher to deliver 50 tons of coals at the Workhouse. That the order was delivered to James Spicer with other orders then issued.  That James Spicer debited himself in his books with receiving 50 tons of coals.  At a meeting held at the Board, February 4, Spicer produced a bill, written by himself, for the 50 tons of coals, as being due to Peter Fisher. The bill was allowed and marked by the Chairman, and a cheque for the amount drawn at the time on the Treasurer of the Union. Witness proved the Union vouchers; the bill and receipt signed “Peter Fisher.” That Spicer called at his office, either on the 29th or 30th of April, and afterwards sent a written resignation of his office, and left Winslow about the 1st of May.  That till Spicer left, witness had no doubt of the genuine character of the receipt.  On May 2, in consequence of information received, he, as Clerk to the Magistrates, filled up a warrant for prisoner’s apprehension, which was signed by a Magistrate, and delivered for execution to a police officer.

Benjamin Cole, clerk to Mr. Willis, stated – That he remembered Spicer calling at Mr. Willis’s office on the 4th of February, after the Board had broken up, and asked for Fisher’s cheque.  That he wrote a stamped receipt for the amount, and delivered the receipt, bill, and cheque to the prisoner. That the receipt was then unsigned, and he gave it to Spicer to get it signed by Fisher. That Spicer afterwards delivered to him the bill and receipt, the latter being then signed “Peter Fisher.”

Mr. John King, treasurer of the Union, produced a cheque for £57 10s., payable to Peter Fisher, or bearer, drawn by the Guardians of the Union, and dated February 4, 1850. He received the cheque from Spicer on the 7th of February last, and gave him the amount.

Peter Fisher said he had supplied coals to the Union for the last six years. That he delivered coals at various times from Nov. 30, 1849, to April 27, 1850 – sixty tons at the Workhouse. That he had examined the receipt for £57 10s., dated Feb. 4, then produced. That he did not sign it, nor authorise any person to sign it on his account. The signature I swear is not in my hand-writing. In consequence of information he had received, that Spicer had left the Union, he came to Winslow and went to Spicer’s house to ask him for the money for the coals he delivered at the Workhouse. Spicer said he had not it. Not being satisfied, witness went again, and threatened to go to one of the Guardians and ask him for the money. Spicer said, “If you do I am a ruined man, for I have received the money, and paid it away all but £15;” and he offered to pay me that sum, and get a bond from his father-in-law for the remainder. This witness refused.

Prisoner on being asked if he wished to say anything, said he should reserve his defence for a future occasion. He was then fully committed to take his trial at the next Assizes at Aylesbury for the county of Buckingham.

1850, 14 December: Bucks Herald
Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire Audit District. Winslow Union.
I, the undersigned Alfred Hayward, Auditor of the above named District, do hereby give Notice, that I shall hold my Audit of the Accounts of the Winslow Union, and of the several parishes and places therein, and of the officers thereof, for the half-year ended on the 29th Day of September, 1850, to commence on Monday, the15th Day of December 1850, at Eleven o’Clock in the Forenoon at the Board Room of the Workhouse of the Union aforesaid; when and where all Persons who by law are bound to account at such Audit, are required to attend and to submit all Books, Documents, Bills and Vouchers containing or relating to their accounts or to monies assessed for and applicable to the Relief of the Poor.
Dated this 2nd Day of December, 1850.  Alfred Hayward.

1851, 15 March: Bucks Herald
James Spicer, carpenter and joiner, was indicted for having on the 18th day of April last, at the parish of Winslow, uttered, disposed of and put off a certain receipt, purporting to be given by Peter Fisher to the Guardians of the Poor of the Winslow Union, for the sum of fifty-seven pounds and ten shillings, with intent to defraud the said Guardians.

Mr. Wells conducted the case for the prosecution, and Mr Power for the prisoner.

David Thomas Willis – Am clerk to the Winslow Union. Know the prisoner. Mr Peter Fisher was our coal merchant. The Board of Guardians issued an order for some coals, which I gave to Spicer. Saw Fisher on the 2nd of May. I produce a bill, which I received from the prisoner. Showed Mr. Fisher the paper. There was a warrant issued for the apprehension of the prisoner, who had absconded.  Some time afterwards he surrendered to a friend of his, who received the reward offered.

Peter Fisher – Am a coal merchant. Sent 60 tons of coal to the Union, on the 31st of January. Applied to the prisoner for payment in the latter end of April. Showed this paper to the board of Guardians It is not my handwriting. At that time £70 10s. was due to me.
Cross-examined – Have dealt with the Board six years. Have received my money through Spicer, who used to get it from Mr. Willis for me. Always signed the receipt myself.

Benjamin Coles, clerk to Mr. Willis, deposed to giving Spicer the check and receipt, which he received back from him.
Mr. King, treasurer to the Union, received the check from the prisoner, which he cashed.
Verdict – Guilty. Sentence – Two years’ hard labour, on hearing which the prisoner fell down insensible in the dock with great violence.

Note that in the above report Spicer's position as Master is not mentioned. In the 1851 census James Spicer was in Aylesbury Gaol, where he was recorded as a carpenter & joiner aged 30, born at St Albans.

The next master of the Workhouse was William Vincer Minter, appointed in 1850, who served until 1894, assisted successively by two wives and several of his children. Mr Minter did not run the Workhouse in the way you might expect, as this account from the Northampton Mercury of 1 Sep 1855 shows:

TREAT FOR THE INMATES OF THE UNION – On the 25th. ult., the inmates of the Winslow Union Poor House were treated to an excursion by rail to Buckingham, where a field had been kindly granted by Mr. Parrott, banker of that town. A day’s diversion was had in the meadow. Swings were erected for the juveniles, and the adults had a game at cricket. On the sward an excellent repast was partaken of. Later in the day the weather became unfavourable, and the company retired to the large room of the Yeomanry barracks, where tea, cake, &c., was freely supplied. The happy party returned home by the last train, grateful to their friends who had treated them. To meet the expenses, the guardians had entered into a subscription. Such of the inmates as were unable to go to Buckingham were regaled in the house.

These are the residents of the Union Workhouse in the 1851 census, transcribed by the Buckinghamshire Family History Society. Please note that the alphabetical order is rather loose.

Winslow Workhouse 1851

Occupation Place of birth
William Minter Mar
Master of Workhouse Margate Kent
Mary Ann Minter Mar
Matron of Workhouse Southwark Surrey
Frederick Meads Unm
Schoolmaster of Workhouse Box Moor Hertford
John Hill Unm
Porter of Workhouse Stony Stratford
James Ash Wid
Pauper Ag. Lab. Swanbourne
Robert Ash Unm
Pauper Scholar Swanbourne
Jane Ash Unm
Pauper Scholar Swanbourne
Joseph Brown Wid
Pauper Tailor London Middlesex
John Bates Unm
Pauper Ag.Lab. Drayton Parslow
Alice Burt Unm
Pauper Lace Maker Great Horwood
Joseph Clark Unm
Pauper Ag.Lab. North Marston
Jemima Chetwood Wid
Domestic Servant Richmond Surrey
William Eeeles Wid
Formerly Farmer Pauper Cranwell Waddesdon
William Faulkner Unm
Pauper Ag.Lab. Whaddon
Harry Fareman Unm
Pauper Scholar Little Horwood
Ambrose Fareman Unm
Pauper Scholar Little Horwood
Thomas Goodger Wid
Pauper formerly Ag.Lab. Winslow
John Grace Wid
Pauper formerly Ag.Lab. Whaddon
William Gilks Mar
Pauper Ag.Lab. Granborough
Elizabeth Gilks Mar
Pauper Lace Maker Mursley
Catherine Gilks
Pauper Scholar Granborough
Mary Gilks
Pauper Granborough
William Gibbs
Pauper Scholar Little Horwood
Titus Hurst Unm
Pauper formerly Ag.Lab. Mursley
Elizabeth Edens Unm
Pauper Lace Maker Winslow
Catherine Hurst Wid
Pauper Lace Maker Stony Stratford
Thomas Hurst Unm
Pauper Ag.Lab. Mursley
Joseph Hogston
Pauper Scholar Dunton
Jesse Hall
Pauper Scholar Great Horwood
Daniel Hall
Pauper Scholar Great Horwood
George Illing Wid
Pauper Ag.Lab. Little Horwood
Elizabeth Illing Unm
Pauper Lace Maker Little Horwood
Joseph Illing
Pauper Little Horwood
James McLellen Wid
Pauper f'ly Attorney's Clerk Paisley Renfrew
Robert McLellen
Pauper Scholar Glasgow Lanark
John Lambourn Unm
Pauper Ag.Lab. North Marston
William Ludgate Unm
Pauper Ag.Lab. Swanbourne
Elizabeth Linny Wid
Pauper Lace Maker Westcot
Elizabeth Labrum Mar
Pauper Lace Maker Mursley
Mary Labrum
Pauper Scholar Mursley
George Labrum
Pauper Scholar Stewkley
Thomas Labrum
Pauper Scholar Stewkley
Jane Labrum
Pauper Scholar Simpson
John Labrum
Pauper Scholar Simpson
Henry Linney Unm
Pauper Scholar North Marston
Robert Linney
Pauper Scholar North Marston
Thomas Lambourn Unm
Pauper Ag.Lab. North Marston
John Lake Mar
Pauper Ag.Lab. Stewkley
Mary Lake Mar
Pauper Lace Maker Sherington
Henry Lake
Pauper Scholar Sherington
Edwin Lake
Pauper Scholar Newport Pagnell
Mark Norris Wid
Pauper formerly Baker Winslow
Elizabeth Noxon
Pauper Scholar Stewkley
William Noxon Mar
Pauper Ag.Lab. Stewkley
Ann Noxon Mar
Pauper Plaiter Stewkley
Ann Noxon
Pauper Scholar Stewkley
Martha Noxon
Pauper Scholar Stewkley
William Noxon
Pauper Scholar Stewkley
George Noxon
Pauper Stewkley
Catherine Norman Unm
Pauper Lace Maker East Claydon
Lydia Norman Unm
Pauper Domestic Servant East Claydon
William Norman Unm
Ag.Lab. East Claydon
Sarah Norman Unm
Pauper Lace Maker Granborough
Eliza Pitkin M
Pauper Domestic Servant Stewkley
Eliza Pitkin
Pauper Scholar Granborough
John Pitkin
Pauper Scholar Mursley
William Pitkin
Pauper Scholar Mursley
William Payne
Pauper Scholar Little Horwood
William Radwell Wid
Pauper formely Weaver East Claydon
William Ratlage Unm
Pauper formerly Shepherd Stewkley
Caroline Reynolds Unm
Pauper Scholar Little Horwood
Thomas Sharp Wid
Pauper Ag.Lab. Dunton
George Smith Unm
Pauper Ag.Lab. Winslow
Mary Smith Wid
Pauper Soldier's Widow Fritwell Oxon
Charles Spooner Unm
Pauper Ag.Lab. Drayton Parslow
Eliza Vickers Unm
Pauper Lace Maker Great Horwood
Thomas Vicker
Pauper Scholar Newport Pagnell
Matthew Warr Unm
Pauper Ag. Lab. North Marston
James Walker Unm
Pauper Ag. Lab. Winslow
Caroline Walker Unm
Pauper Lace Maker Winslow
Georgiana Walker
Pauper Scholar Winslow
Selenda Walker
Pauper Scholar Winslow
John Bradbury Unm
Pauper Ag. Lab. Mursley

1852: A lukewarm reference for the schoolmistress

National Archives MH/12/16249/176: Letter to the Poor Law Commissioners on Winslow Union notepaper

Winslow 18th March 25th 1852

My Lords and Gentlemen,

I am directed by the Board of Guardians to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 16th instt. 8410/52 respecting Miss Hannah Adams who for a short time acted as a Schoolmistress in the Winslow workhouse and to inform you in reply that they were well satisfied as to her qualifications as a Teacher and considered her fully competent for a better situation than that which she held in their Workhouse but that they deemed it advisable not to retain her in consequence of an evident reluctance on her part to teach the Children the Church Catechism and an indisposition to afford that general assistance in the management of the Workhouse independently of the actual teaching of the Children which the Guardians require at the hand of the Schoolmistress.

Before Miss Adams came to the Workhouse the Guardians were without a Schoolmaster and Schoolmistress and they resolved with the sanction of the Poor Law Board to unite the boys’ and girls’ Schools for a time under a Mistress. Miss Adams was sent down by the Home and Colonial Office on the application of the Chaplain of the Workhouse but from an early discovery of the reasons which eventually induced the Guardians to part with her they only retained her till they could meet with another Schoolmistress, in which they found considerable difficulty. She only remained at the Winslow Workhouse from May last to October.

 I have the honor to remain my Lords and Gentlemen
Your very obed(ien)t. Ser(van)t
Dav Tho Wllis,
Clerk to the Union

To The Poor Law Commissioners,
Somerset House, Whitehall

1853: Diminution of pauperism in Bucks

Bradford Observer, 4 Aug 1853 + The Nonconformist, 3 Aug 1853
The poor-house for the Winslow Union was erected for 250 inmates It has contained 270 residents; but now, for the 17 parishes in the union, there are but 40 inmates, and there has not since March been an able-bodied pauper in the house. The expenses have decreased to a similar extent. Some of the parishes formerly paid upwards of 20s in the pound on the assessment, and now the average of the union is about 9d in the pound.

1861: Winslow Workhouse in the Census (transcribed by Glenys Warlow; PDF file of 28 KB)

1861: Returns of every adult pauper in each workhouse who has been an inmate of the workhouse during a continuous period of five years, 29 July

p.6: Winslow
Charles Spooner: 11 years: Paralysis
James Walker: 15 years: Deformity
James Wenman: 6 years: Imbecillity

1868: Christmas at the Workhouse

Bucks Herald, 9 Jan 1869
At this festive season of the year, when we read of unbounded charities in every direction, we are glad to state that on Christmas-day the inmates of the workhouse were not forgotten. The Guardians had arranged for a supply of beef and plum pudding, unlimited in quantity, that those less fortunate than themselves might spend a merry Christmas. The old men and women were supplied with snuff and tobacco, and also some good foaming ale. The children and others had an allowance of nuts and oranges. The chapel of the workhouse was very tastefully decorated; on the walls were several texts well suited to the season. Mr Minter, the master, had kindly collected a sum of money from the Guardians and tradesmen, and provided a monster Christmas-tree for their amusement, the contents of which were distributed among the inmates on New Year’s Eve. The master and matron of the house, by their exertions contributed considerably towards carrying out a season of rejoicing among the inmates of Winslow Union

View of the Workhouse and garden from the south

Early 20th-century view of the Workhouse from the south, with the Master's House in the centre. The large garden may have become a liability as the inmates of the workhouse increasingly became the elderly and infirm rather than the able-bodied poor. Thanks to Clive Dobbs for the photo.

1871: Winslow Workhouse in the Census (transcribed by Glenys Warlow; PDF file of 32 KB)

1872: The land of milk and honey

Introduction by Ed Grimsdale

The cold, wet years experienced in North Bucks and throughout England during the 1860s were accompanied by severe outbreaks of cattle plague – mainly rinderpest. Crops failed, and the scarcity of food increased prices.  Times were hard not only for agricultural labourers but also for their masters, or employers. The labour force contracted, and that situation was exacerbated by the gradual introduction of mechanised implements, such as the steam ploughs created by Ricketts and Beard at the Castle Iron Works in Buckingham.  In their desperation to avoid the ignominy of the workhouse, labourers and their families left their homes in search of work.  Below is the beginning of a fascinating letter, perhaps a rant, from a farmer in Devon. What a shame that it was published in the South West. Had it been sent to the Bucks Herald, the side-effects being felt by Mr Minter and the Guardians of Winslow’s workhouse might have evaporated. The letter suggests that the Winslow Workhouse may have been a more attractive option than others in the area under the regime of Mr Minter and his family. Word of mouth may have spread the message from tramp to tramp that it was worth going an extra mile or two to enjoy the delights of the Winslow tramp ward.

Daily Western Times, 1 Nov 1872

To the Editor of The Daily Western Times
Sir, - I see in your yesterday’s issue an account of the Agricultural Labourers. At the meeting of the Winslow Board of Guardians on Wednesday, Mr Minter, master of the Workhouse, stated that if the applications for admission to the tramp ward should continue as numerous as they have lately the accommodation would have to be increased. On Sunday last no less than twenty agricultural labourers were admitted, some of them accompanied by their wives and children. They stated that they had gone north in search of employment, but had been unsuccessful, and were making their way as best as they could to their native places in the southern counties, which they had left in the hope of bettering their condition. …
[The rest of the letter is about the good conditions enjoyed by the writer's own employees]

1876: Arson at Winslow Workhouse (section by Ed Grimsdale)

The parents of James Price deserted him in London. Sometime afterwards, James became an inmate of Winslow Workhouse at the age of 13. On 26 Sep 1876, according to the Master of the House, Mr Minter, James had been given work in the Old Men’s ward alongside a smaller boy called Higgins. Hearing the sound of a fire alarm at 9.45am, the Master searched the East Ward and at its furthest end discovered the seat of the fire: six pillows, two mattresses and some beds were alight.

W. Higgins, a boy of 10 years, told Warwick Assizes that he saw Price enter the room, strike matches and put them under the mattresses. Because he was afraid of being hit by the older prisoner, Higgins didn’t tell anyone at the time. Elizabeth Marks, an inmate, and the Matron confirmed that they saw Price, out of bounds, around the East Ward before the fire started.

That was sufficient to convict James, although a statement from him had been read out denying his involvement. The Jury recommended mercy on account of Price’s age. The Judge called James “mischievous” and “wicked”. His sentence was a comparatively harsh one:  a fortnight’s imprisonment to be followed by a five year term in a reformatory, but firstly he was to be given twelve strokes of the birch.

The Bucks Herald reported that when James heard the Judge ordering the flogging, he burst out crying, and was led sobbing from the dock. Later, his Lordship remitted the flogging and enlarged the term of imprisonment to three weeks so that James would be “eligible” for a reformatory.

(Incidentally, this was one of the first group of  “Bucks” cases to be tried at  Warwick after the introduction of the Winter Assizes Act  that grouped Bucks, Beds, Northants & Warws together as Winter Assizes County no.5.)

Relative workhouse costs (from a Parliamentary Return, year to Lady Day, 1879, compiled by Ed Grimsdale)

Buckinghamshire Union % of Paupers Per Capita Maintenance
Eton 3.0 £5 1s 9.75d
Aylesbury 3.5 £6 19s 1.75d
Newport Pagnell 3.6 £6 0s 5.75d
Winslow 3.7 £6 0s 2d
Amersham 4.9 £5 2s 10.5d
Wycombe 5.2 £5 2s 9.25d
Buckingham 6.2 £6 0s 2.75d

Comparative figures across the 3 Unions within Oxfordshire

Oxford 2.7 £6 16s 1.75d
Bicester 3.2 £5 1s 7d
Banbury 4.9 £5 9s 9d

Baseline Figures (1871 Census) across England & Wales

The ratio of (workhouse) paupers to the population was 1:28  (3.5%).
Average cost per head of maintaining paupers was £5 8s 5d
(£1 = 20s ; 1s = 12d )

1881: Winslow Workhouse in the Census (transcribed by Glenys Warlow; PDF file of 32 KB)

1886: Election for Board of Guardians

1887: Election for Assistant Overseer

1887: controversy about sending children from the Workhouse to the Winslow United Schools

1891: Bucks Herald, 12 Nov: Board of Guardians
  PROPOSAL TO SEND LONDON PAUPERS INTO THE COUNTRY.- The Clerk read a letter from the Edmonton Union respecting the sending of some fifty old women from their Union to workhouses in the country, where there was accommodation for them.- It was resolved that the Chairman [Henry Monk], Mr. Jas. King, and Mr. James East should meet after the receipt of further particulars, and forward terms to the Edmonton Union.- It was remarked that there was plenty of accommodation in Winslow Workhouse, if the price offered for the paupers was sufficient to meet the expenses.

1892: Buckingham Advertiser, 17 Dec
  At the Winslow Board of Guardians, on Wednesday, Miss French personally attended, and pleaded on behalf of the vagrants being admitted to the Workhouse earlier [in the day] than is the case.  The rules, however, are laid down by the Local Government Board, and are beyond the power of the guardians for alteration.  It however, is gratifying to hear that at this Workhouse the master (Mr. Minter) has made it a rule to be lenient to the vagrants in this matter, and we notice that in “The Revelations of Mr. Commissioner Tramp of the Casual Wards,” the writer speaks of the treatment he received at the Winslow Workhouse in very favourable terms.  He says “At Winslow the master and porter were exceptionally kind, and did not impose unreasonable tasks.”  His remarks are the very opposite as regards some other Workhouses he visited.

Read more about the issues involved here on The Workhouse website.

1893: Buckingham Advertiser, 2 Dec
  The Winslow Board of Guardians on Wednesday - it was a bye day - had only two items before them, and these were discussed with an originality of argument which must be read to be enjoyed. [There was a separate report of the meeting, not included here.] All sorts of objections were raised to the project of receiving 50 paupers from the Chelsea Union.  “Should some of the paupers die who would pay the expenses of the burial?” said one.  Another, “Will the Chelsea Union pay the carriage of the corpse from Winslow to London?” said another.  Whilst the climax was reached with the question, “Will the Chelsea Union pay the railway fare from London to Winslow of the living paupers?”
  Whilst even another query was advanced as to whether Winslow Churchyard can accommodate the dead paupers from Chelsea Union.  It has been said that some of the guardians of the Winslow Board do not look far enough ahead.  This cannot be said in this instance.  We hope the Chelsea paupers will not see the report of the guardians, or they might object to being despatched to what they might expect, judging from the remarks of the members, was to be their death place.
  As to the cost of the paupers in the Workhouse, the Committee have placed it at 8/6 per week per head, with an additional £20 per year for medical attendance.  Seeing that the out-relief ranges from 1/6 to 3/- per week, it seems strange that it should be said that indoor maintenance should cost 8/6.  It must assuredly be a good argument in favour of out-door relief.

In the end the Chelsea Union made other arrangements.

In 1894 there was controversy when William Vincer Minter retired as Master of the Workhouse, aged 75 and after 44 years' service, and the Board of Guardians refused to give him a gratuity. Mr Minter's retirement led to questions being asked about whether it would be more economical to close the Workhouse, and further investigation of how to find more inmates.

1894: Buckingham Advertiser, 4 Aug
  Next Wednesday, the Winslow Board of Guardians will be called together to discuss the question of the advisability of otherwise of closing their Workhouse.  At the last meeting of the Board, Mr. Murray-Browne [government inspector] attended and suggested the closing of the building, mainly it appeared from his observations with the object of reducing the expenditure; but he admitted the more the subject was gone into, the less was the hope of this being achieved.  It is well-known that it has been on the tapis for some time past, as to the apparently unnecessary expense in retaining the Workhouse and staff of officers.  But it is one thing to talk of closing such an establishment, and another to point out how this can be satisfactorily accomplished.  It is suggested that the paupers should be sent to the Workhouses in the neighbouring Unions.  But here again rises the difficulty as to the provision of wards for the vagrants.  That Winslow must provide such accommodation for the itinerant community is a certainty, and it is highly probable that if they billeted them at public houses or lodging houses, they would have their fair share of patronage from the tramps.  Winslow will also have to retain its duties in sanitary and educational matters.  At the last meeting, one or two of the members stated that instead of the Workhouse being abolished, and their duties decreased, they preferred the Workhouse being retained, and their duties enlarged, and it is almost a certainty that the decision of next Wednesday’s meeting will confirm this.  It is to be hoped, however, that the question with all its pros and cons will be duly discussed, and also that the clauses of the new Local Government Act will receive full attention.

1894: Buckingham Advertiser, 11 Aug
  The Winslow Board of Guardians, on Wednesday, discussed the question of the advisability or otherwise of closing the Workhouse in camera; and on re-admission of the Press the latter were informed that it had been decided to advertise for a master, matron and relieving officer.
  It was afterwards stated that a motion for the closing of the Workhouse was negatived by a large majority.  It appears that the salaries which are being paid are - Master £50, and relieving officer, £80, total £130; matron £30; assistant matron £16; and porter £18; total £194 or omitting the £80 for relieving officer, £114 as salaries of officials for the Workhouse, the pauper inmates of which do not muster a score, all told.  Till recently, too, a schoolmistress was employed to educate some half-a-dozen children.

1895: Buckingham Advertiser, 23 Feb
  There can be no two opinions as to the advantage of receiving the inmates from Bethnal Green in our Workhouse.  The House was built for 250 inmates, and the number of late years have varied from about 18 to 30.  100 inmates at 8/6 a week each will be £2,210 per year, the greater part of which will find its way into the pockets of Winslow tradesmen, while the surplus will help lighten the burdens of the ratepayers.

There were also negotiations with Lambeth (discussed by Winslow RDC, 11 April).

1895: Buckingham Advertiser, 1 June
  It is not long since H.M. Inspector suggested the closing of the Winslow Workhouse, and its conversion into a biscuit manufactory or something of that sort.  And for sometime it has been on the tapis whether it would not be advisable to curtail the work of the Winslow Board by sending half of its in-door paupers to Buckingham Workhouse, and the other half to Leighton Buzzard.

1895: Buckingham Advertiser, 24 Aug: letter to the editor
                                                            Union Workhouse, Winslow,
                                                                        19th August, 1895.
  SIR.- I have silently endured the lash of the Reverend Stephen Phillips’ of (Granborough) tongue, with regard to shutting up the House for nearly 12 months without even uttering a protest, but there is such a thing as “righteous indignation,” and a man cannot stand being goaded forever… It is in the interest and on behalf of the poor old inmates that I wish to speak, who are in sore tribulation and distress of mind for fear the House will be closed, and they will be distributed broad-cast here and there...
  I have realised and witnessed that deep love and clinging to home amongst the poor, and the horror of being banished away from it, even if it be only from their native Workhouse.
  This was brought very vividly and forcibly to my mind when it was contemplated last winter by this Board to take from the Bethnal Green Workhouse 150 inmates.  A strong deputation, headed by the Chairman of the Bethnal Green Board, visited this House, and they stated publicly at a luncheon at the Bell Hotel that they were simply charmed with all they saw, and the manner in which the House was kept and managed.
  In the face of this exceptionally gratifying tribute, when it came to be tested, and the Guardians of Bethnal Green called for volunteers (as they could not legally compel them to come), only a few stepped to the front; the remainder said “They had been born in Bethnal Green, brought up in Bethnal Green, and they hoped to die in Bethnal Green.”  If that feeling prevailed there, I do not hesitate to affirm that the feeling would be doubly acute in this neighbourhood.  Several of the poor old men and women came to me this last week with tears in their eyes, asking if the House was going to be closed.  To pacify them I assured them nothing of the kind would happen; that the ratepayers and the majority of the Guardians would never stand by and see that done to suit the caprices and whims of one man.  I wonder what would the Reverend Stephen Phillips think of me, were I to go over to Grandborough some Sunday morning, and say “You have not got much of a congregation; I think we may as well shut up your Church?”…
  I think I should be wanting in respect and courtesy to the Board were I not to freely and candidly acknowledge that I have invariably found the Winslow Board of Guardians as a body a reasonable, kind and very feeling one, and I am sure nothing would grieve them more if they were aware of it than to think that anything was said or done to cause the poor old people pain.
  I will now deal with a few facts.  Last winter we had about 40 in the house; this was considerably over the average for many years, and often we had 25 and 30 tramps of a night.  Let me enumerate the number we have dealt with during the past 10 months.  They are as follows, viz:- Men, 2,159; women, 416; children 303; total 2,878.
  Need I say this is most offensive work, and is at times attended with considerable danger as you are liable to catch all infections and loathsome diseases, besides run the risk of getting seriously assaulted, as some of these tramps are perfect desperadoes, and would think no more of kicking the life out of you, than looking at you, for what have they to lose?  They have no dread of prison, for probably all of them are already ex-convicts.
  For six months there were only two officers on the premises to attend to everything, whereas there used to be four- viz., master, matron, porter, and assistant matron.
  I and my wife performed the duties of all these officers for the very worst six months of the year, without any assistance whatever, and I regret to say we had nearly all the poor old people ill with influenza, besides several other terrible cases of disease, two or three of whom died.  During the foregoing six months the Guardians effected a saving at the rate of £54 per annum in salaries alone, without taking into consideration the extra officer’s rations saved…
                                    I am, Sir,
                                                Your obedient servant,
                                                            CYRUS EVANS,

1897: Buckingham Advertiser, 23 Jan
  The bad name it earned some years ago still sticks to the Winslow Workhouse, in which there are so few people that the energies of the officers in doing the work of the place are severely taxed, more especially those of the matron, for whom it is necessary to engage paid female labour.  This workhouse, however, is a very different place from what it was under the old regime.  Then it was little better than a prison, but now it has become a place of comparative comfort and rest for most of the inmates, who are considerably better off than many of the out-door poor.  The inmates are better housed, have more warmth, a good deal better food, and plenty of it.  They are not even denied some of the luxuries of life, for tobacco is doled out, and (on medical order) the poor folk are allowed a glass of beer with which to drink the health of their benefactors.  It is a workhouse for the officers; but for most of the inmates, very much a place of rest.  If it were called “A Rest for the weary,” or a “Convalescent Home,” or “An earthly Paradise,” instead of a workhouse, it would be full.  The Guardians had better change the name.
Letters then appeared in the local press, including one from the current Master Cyrus Evans, defending the reputation of Mr Minter from this implicit attack.

1897: Bucks Herald, 23 Jan
  The Winslow Board of Guardians, owing to the small number of inmates in the Workhouse, have been reviving an old grievance, as it is necessary to employ outside assistance to keep the institution clean and comfortable, just the same as though its walls were full.  Not long ago it was suggested that the Board should endeavour to sell the gigantic building to biscuit or other manufacturers, and erect some tramp wards on another site.  This would have necessitated the sending of the paupers to the neighbouring Workhouses of Leighton, Newport, and Buckingham.  Surely this would be a better and more economical arrangement.  Perhaps the Winslow Guardians may have to resort to it yet.

1897: Bucks Herald, 2 Oct
  The Winslow Guardians on Friday last decided (by a majority of 1) to receive 50 inmates from the Fulham workhouse.  There are at present 31 inmates in the Winslow House, of whom a considerable number are children.

1898: Bucks Herald, 3 Sep: Board of Guardians
  MORE INMATES.- The Chairman and Clerk of the Willesden Union attended as a deputation with a view to arranging for sending some inmates down from Willesden to the Winslow House … He and their clerk had been round and inspected the premises at Winslow and found that there was a great deal of room which would be suitable for their purpose, and he might go as far as to say he did not think there would be much difficulty about the matter, provided they could come to terms.- In reply to questions, the Chairman said they would find bedsteads and bedding for their paupers, but not clothing.  As to burials, they would pay the Union rate.  They would not, for their own credit, send what would be called infirmary cases.- On reference being made, it was found the terms quoted to Bethnal Green Union was 8s. 6d. per head per week; £20 for the medical-officer; and the burial fees.  In reply to Mr. East, the Willesden Chairman said the earlier the arrangement could be made the better – by Michaelmas if it could be done-…Mr East moved that a committee of five be nominated to consider the matter, and instruct Mr. Willis what terms to ask.  He said the house was built for 250 or 270 inmates, and he could remember when there were 200 there and no bother was made.  They had heard a good deal of the repairs and alterations that would have to be done, but he had not the slightest hesitation in saying if the Master or the Matron were to report matters these things would have to be done in a month, whether for 200 inmates or 30 …

1898: Bucks Herald, 15 Oct
  It is at length definitely settled that Winslow workhouse is to receive 50 Willesden inmates, and the Committee on Wednesday decided to engage several extra officers, viz., nurse, assistant matron, and cook.

1899: Buckingham Advertiser, 18 March (letter from Cyrus Evans)
  Sir,- Through the kindness and hearty support of the guardians, I have been enabled to make one step towards establishing a little reading room and library for the poor old people.  I have fixed on a bright little room overlooking the garden.  It has recently been coloured and painted out, and made as comfortable as possible, with a neat book case in the corner, but alas! The book case is like the cage without the bird-empty ...

1899: 31 July: Letter from the Master, Cyrus Evans, to the Buckingham Advertiser, thanking the Guardians and the Flower Show Committee for providing "the poor old souls" in the Workhouse with a "splendid tea" and "a few hours’ recreation and comfort". The emphasis was clearly on the grateful poor and generous Guardians now, a long way from the original workhouse concept. Read the letter.

1899: Northampton Mercury, 27 Oct
The impropriety of paupers since the days when Oliver Twist asked for more porridge has gone to daring lengths. An extraordinary case comes from Winslow this week. Two aged recipients of relief formed an attachment, which ended in marriage. The bride was close on eighty, and the bridegroom was about seventy, and when the news of their nuptials reached the ears of the Guardians they stopped their relief, as according to their own words, they did not like the arrangement. They have since relented, however, and allowed the couple 5s 6d a week, with which to spend the rest of their connubial bliss.

Presumably this means that they were receiving outdoor relief and hadn't been sent to the Workhouse.

1900: Buckingham Express, 3 Feb
  The clerk laid before the Board [of Guardians] a letter received from Mr. Noel A. Humphries, chief clerk at General Register Office at Somerset House, London, as follows:- “Sir,- I am directed by the Registrar General, with reference to the report of the registration inspector, who recently visited Winslow to request that you will call the attention of the Winslow Guardians to the very unsatisfactory provision that has been made for the Winslow District Registry Office, which is not only situate at the workhouse, and is thus obviously open to serious objection for marriage purposes, but consists of an inconveniently situated and very small room which is practically unfurnished.  Under these circumstances I am to request that the Guardians will consider the desirability of making arrangements for a temporary register office free from workhouse associations, which are necessarily objectionable to those who wish to avail themselves of the statuary provisions for civil marriages at the Register Office.”  There were, said the clerk, only two chairs in the room at present used, and the notice-board was placed in such a position as to be useless.  The Registrar-General was dissatisfied with present arrangements, and the books were getting damaged by damp and otherwise- and it might follow that they would be required to keep these books in a chest in some occupied room.  –The Rev. J. A. Andrews would like to see some improved arrangement made: he therefore proposed that the Register Office for Marriages, with the books be transferred to the office of Mr. Willis, their clerk.  It was a disgrace that people should be married in a little pokey room like that now used for the purpose, and equally so that, because people were Nonconformists, they should be obliged to go to a workhouse to be married.- Mr. Neal seconded, and the proposition was carried unanimously.

1900: Buckingham Advertiser, 17 Feb: Board of Guardians
  The Clerk read a letter received from the Willesden Board, intimating- in respect to the proposal to add twenty more paupers to the fifty from Willesden already in the Winslow Workhouse- that Col. Preston, inspector, had informed them that the Local Government Board had decided to sanction the transfer of but ten of the paupers.  In a letter from the Local Government Board on the subject, also submitted, it was stated that, on a report from Mr. Murray Browne, inspector, and, having regard to dayroom accommodation, defective classification and insufficient laundry and kitchen accommodation, and to the need of leaving a reasonable margin for cases belonging to the Winslow Union, the inspector doubted whether assent should be given to any increase in the number of paupers from Willesden, but that, in deference to the wishes of the Winslow Guardians, the Local Government Board would agree to an addition of ten, provided that the dormitories over the Board Room, at present empty, were brought into use.

1900: Buckingham Advertiser, 26 May (following the abrupt dismissal of the porter)
  The following reply, which has been forwarded to the Local Government Board by Mr. Willis, was read:-
  MY LORDS AND GENTLEMEN.- Your letter of the 23rd ult., with a copy of a communication received by you from F. Milton Grant, the late porter at the Workhouse, was laid before the Guardians at their meeting held yesterday, when I was directed to inform you in reply that Grant was appointed porter on January 12th, his duties commencing on 22nd of that month.  On the 17th February notice was received from him of his intention to resign on the 16th of March.  In consequence, however, of serious complaints made by the Master with regard to his conduct a special meeting of the Guardians was called on February 21st (not an audit committee meeting, as stated in Grant’s letter to you), when, after having had the Master, Matron, Assistant Matron, and Porter before them together, and hearing the evidence given by the first three officers named, the Guardians came unanimously to the conclusion that the charges made were fully proved.  Grant appeared before them in a state of intoxication and was so abusive that it was unanimously carried that his resignation be accepted forthwith and that he leave the premises at once.  Every latitude was given him to allow him to do so ,but as he declined to go he was ultimately ejected and his things placed outside in the presence of Sergeant Trevener, of the Bucks Police.  The Guardians are not aware that any of Grant’s property is now in the House…
  Now that the Guardians understand what the charges are that the late porter makes, they have again had the casual paupers’ admission and discharge book before them, and on turning to the weeks ending on the dates named, find that the names of all the casual paupers admitted from January 22nd to February 19th are entered in Grant’s own handwriting, and that the entries of the food given to them from the 1st to the 14th February are also entirely in his handwriting.
  Furthermore they find that Grant and Grant alone issued the food to the tramps, and that the dietary allowance of cheese is entered by him, so that the statement that no cheese was issued to the vagrants is incorrect.  From the enquiries the Guardians have made they are quite satisfied that no credence whatever can be attached to the charges that have been brought and that if anything were incorrect the porter is entirely responsible for it.
  With regard to his allegation that bread of short weight was supplied by the contractor, I am to inform you that the bread is weighed from time to time by members of the Board, and that nothing of the sort has ever been found by them.
  I am sending herewith a copy of a post-card addressed by Grant to one of the inmates, from which your lordships on reading his promise “we will make it worth your while to come,” will be able to form your own conclusion.
  Finally, I am desired to state that in the opinion of the Guardians, Grant is totally unfitted to hold any Poor Law appointment whatever.
                        I have the honour to be,
                                    My Lords and Gentlemen,
                                                Your obedient servant,
                                                            THOS. PRICE WILLIS,
Winslow Union, Winslow,
            Bucks, May 5, 1900.

1900: Bucks Herald, 24 Dec: Board of Guardians
THE BOUNDARY FENCE – The Clerk to the County Council wrote, with reference to the Union Workhouse Boundary Fence, that the Council had instructed him to confirm the decision arrived at with the Visiting Committee, and no objection would be made to the fence being erected provided that the work was done to the satisfaction of their Surveyor, and that the District Council gave up a strip of the Workhouse garden for widening the road. – Only two tenders for the erection of an iron boundary fence to the Workhouse were received, at £154 : 10 and £149 respectively. – Mr. Clarke expressed disapproval of the gates which were to be provided, and said he should like to see something better. – Mr. Illing also said he was not satisfied with the pattern chosen, and suggested that the matter should be referred back to the Committee. –The Chairman thought that by so doing they would stultify themselves now that tenders had been sent in ; and the Surveyor, in answer to a question, said the gates Mr Clarke advocated would cost another £28. – Mr. Mead suggested that they should accept the tender and leave the gates to the Committee; but further objections were raised to the more expensive gates on the ground that tramps were not admitted until seven o’clock in the evening, and in rainy weather they would afford them no protection. – Mr. Clarke said he did not see why they should make it comfortable for a lot of lazy tramps who would not work. – Mr. East agreed with Mr. Clarke, and said he noticed some lines written on the wall of the tramp ward to the effect that “the sailor loves his ship; the soldier loves to tramp; but give me a turnpike road, to live and die a tramp.” (Laughter.) – The Surveyor was eventually instructed to proceed with the fence and obtain another estimate for different gates.

1903: Bucks Herald, 7 March
The following address has been presented to the Master and Matron by the Willesden Inmates:-
“We the undersigned Willesden Inmates of the above Institution, desire to express our grateful thanks for the kind, liberal, and considerate treatment we have received from you during our the time we have been under your care, viz., four years and a half. With the most sincere feelings of regard and esteem, we beg to subscribe ourselves,
yours most respectfully.
[Here follows the signatures of sixty male and female inmates.]
Union Workhouse, Winslow, Bucks
3rd March, 1903”

Later more Willesden paupers were sent to Winslow Workhouse without, perhaps, the same satisfaction for in August 1907 there was a report that six had discharged themselves from Winslow and returned to Willesden. Their excuse “the tea was too weak” was regarded as lame, and four of them were returned to Winslow with a stipulation that the gang leader should have his beer ration removed for a month. The event made the national press: a report appeared in the Daily Telegraph. Comments in the Buckingham Advertiser suggest that behind the Willesden Six tea dispute lay a ruse to obtain free rail trips to London: they had to be discharged from Willesden not Winslow and to be given their rail fares to get there, but once at Willesden they could ask to be readmitted.

19 Nov 1904, Bucks Herald
The Clerk [of the Board of Guardians, Mr T.P. Willis] suggested, in accordance with the proposals of the Registrar-General, that children born in the Workhouse should be registered as having been born in Buckingham-road. The Chairman [Mr J. Hedges, acting] thought this would be satisfactory and was what was done in most Unions. Mr [W.] Norman proposed that that should be the style of registration adopted. He thought it would be better than some high-sounding name, which would cause inquiries to be made. The motion was seconded by Mr [G.] Clarke, and carried.

From this time onwards the address 1 Buckingham Road was used. The "Institution", as it was generally known, was officially renamed Northfield in about 1937 (sometimes referred to as Northfield House), and the name Winslow Hospital came into use in 1948.

6 Nov 1906, Buckingham Advertiser

To the Editor of the “Buckingham Advertiser and North Bucks Free Press.”

DEAR SIR,- A remark was recently made at a meeting of the above Board to an alleged neglect of duty on my part as one of the House Visitors.  I do not know who is responsible for these appointments, but perhaps it will interest them to know that I have attended the Workhouse three times within a space of three weeks – the first time with a gang of tramps, with whom I entered the wards, my name, address, and occupation being taken down with the rest.  I of course remained there until my companions had retired to bed.  I afterwards went through the whole of the house, in company with the master and a friend of mine, Mr. Gore.  I afterwards expressed my approval to the whole of the officials for the efforts they had made for the happiness and comfort of the poor.

                        I am, Sir, yours faithfully,
                                                WALTER H. LORKIN.
            Winslow, January 28, 1906.

P.S.- I do not suppose for one moment that any other of the Guardians has even spent an evening in the tramp-wards; if not, I would advise them to do so.  To watch a heap of humanity huddled up on some bare boards in a badly ventilated place, with 6 ounces of bread and some water, and no other covering except what they stand upright in, is anything but interesting.

29 June 1907, Buckingham Advertiser
Cyrus Evans retired from the Workhouse, returned as emergency cover, and became embroiled in an argument with Cllr E.A. Illing about the amount of meat consumed at the Workhouse.
... the amount consumed by each officer and servant per day is under ¾lb., and not 2½lb. as stated by [Mr Illing] ... this House is "worked" on very economical lines indeed.
Cyrus Evans was Master of the Workhouse by December 1894, when he had a letter published in the Advertiser. He was born in Breconshire and previously worked as a railway clerk. He left for the second time in July 1907. His death at the age of 56 was reported in November 1907.

1908: dispute about beer

19 Sep 1908, Bucks Herald
Mr T. Biggs (Chairman of the Board and Winslow R.D.C.) read a letter which he had received from Mr. Barton, auditor, stating that he proposed to surcharge him, as Chairman, with the sum of £36 5s 6d  [£36.28], the cost of the beer issued to paupers during the half-year ended at Lady-day last. Mr. Biggs said as long as he held the position of Chairman, and if he should be surcharged in this case, he would never sign another cheque for tea, tobacco, or snuff, because he believed that beer was more of a necessity, and had greater sustenance in it than either of the other things. The Clerk [Mr T.P.Willis] said the beer was issued in accordance with the order book of the medical man, and all that the Chairman of the Board had to do was to initial the entries in the medical man’s book. But the beer question had been in dispute for some times past, and it had now been decided to take the decision of the Local Government Board upon it.

1914: Workhouse used for troops

14 Nov 1914, Buckingham Advertiser
An arrangement has been come to between the Buckingham and Winslow Boards of Guardians whereby the female inmates of Winslow Workhouse will be exchanged for a similar number of male inmates from Buckingham workhouse. This will place an entire block of buildings at Winslow Workhouse at the disposal of the War Office for the accommodation of the wounded. No payment will be made by either Board. The proposal now awaits the sanction of the Local Government Board, It was stated that the Winslow Board declined to entertain the question of transferring the whole of their inmates to Buckingham Workhouse, one reason being the position of officers employed at the Workhouse.

26 Dec 1914, Buckingham Advertiser
The Master reported that Capt Hansell had commandeered one of the wards in the Workhouse for the use of the troops, and two of the bathrooms would also be used by the soldiers.

1920: Workhouse chaplain

30 Jan 1920, Northampton Mercury
There is trouble a Winslow between the Vicar [Rev. C.J. Wigan] and the Guardians. The Board, dissatisfied with the omission of the Vicar, who is the chaplain, to hold Sunday Service at The Workhouse, stopped his war bonus. The vicar resigned. There is no other clergyman in the parish so the Board appointed a Nonconformist as chaplain. This appointment the Ministry of Health refused to sanction under an old statute. So for the present there is deadlock. And there is no chaplain. Surely this is pitiable.

The matter being one of principle and precedent, there were two reports in local papers remote from Bucks as the dispute continued: Portsmouth Evening News (14 Feb) and Gloucestershire Echo (27 Feb). Let the Mercury (21 May) signal the resolution of the affair:

The dispute over the salary of the Rev. C.J. Wigan, vicar of Winslow, as the chaplain to the Workhouse has ended. A year ago the Guardians stopped the payment of £10 war bonus which had been added to the £20 salary. Mr. Wigan resigned and the Guardians thought they could appoint a Nonconformist. This was forbidden by the Ministry of Health as the chaplain must be a member of the Church of England. The Guardians then advertised the post at a salary of £20. The only reply was from the Rev. E.G.Walmesley, vicar of Granborough, who offered to do the work for £36, and the Ministry of Health has directed the Board to accept this offer. During the interregnum, a Nonconformist has been doing the work gratuitously and the Guardians have either to remunerate him out of their own pockets or risk being surcharged.

1925: Workhouse cinema
24 Dec 1925, Nottingham Evening Post
Inmates of Winslow Workhouse are to have their own cinema.
1926: Fox in the Workhouse

2 Jan 1926, Tamworth Herald
The staff and inmates of Winslow Workhouse were considerably alarmed on Boxing Day by the appearance of a large fox. The animal, which was being hunted by the Whaddon Chase pack, rushed through the building and disappeared. Some hours afterwards it was found in the cook’s bedroom, where it had apparently been asleep on the bed. In its attempt to escape the animal became wedged in a small window. Through this it was pushed by the Master and Porter of the workhouse. It fell a distance of 26ft on to the roof of a conservatory, smashing two panes of glass and made off  to a cover nearby. The incidents were watched by several hundred people.

The hunt met in Winslow market place early in the morning and quickly ran a fox to earth. After it had been unearthed and killed a fresh line was picked up at Addington, two miles away. The fox ran straight to Winslow. It crossed the railway line, narrowly  escaping a train, and entered  the workhouse garden. It ran up the garden path, and entered the front door.

As the animal rushed through the hall, it knocked down a nurse who was carrying an armful of Christmas parcels. Thinking it was a mad dog, she ran out of the building, shouting for help.  [The Dundee Courier added, "Meanwhile, the fox ran out by another door, squirmed through some iron railings, leaving part of its coat behind, and gained the woodpile."]

The fox was next seen in an adjoining garden, belonging to Dr Leapingwell, where it took shelter under a large stack of wood. It was not possible to dislodge it, and the hunt was called off. [The Dundee Courier commented, "But, Reynard won, and Lord Dalmeny, the master of the hunt, finally decided to leave him and go to a near-by spinney for another draw."]

Nothing more was seen of the fox until five o’clock in the evening, when the Master of the workhouse heard screams from an upper room. It appeared that the animal had doubled back to the workhouse and, entering the cook’s bedroom, had gone asleep on the bed. Later in the afternoon, when the cook opened the bedroom door, the fox jumped out into the room and knocked her down. She screamed for help, and locked herself in the room.

The fox then ran upstairs into a dormitory where a girl was filling a hot-water bottle. As soon as she saw the fox, she dropped the hot-water bottle and screamed. The animal, in attempting to jump through a small window on the top floor, became wedged in it. The workhouse Master and Porter who had run upstairs, pushed the fox through the window. It fell onto the roof of a conservatory below, a distance of 26 feet, and made off for cover nearby.

Lord Dalmeny, Master of the Whaddon Chase, interviewed later, said that he heard nothing of the exploits of the fox. "When we lost the fox in Dr. Leapingwell’s garden, we thought no more about it," he said. "We were ten minutes behind it all the way, and did not ever catch sight of it. I am amazed to hear of its adventures."


Board of Guardians outside the Master's House
The Board of Guardians and staff outside the Master's House
Photograph by J.H. Turnham, undated (1930s?)
The man in the centre of the back row with a white moustache is William Norris Midgley, the Clerk


Winslow Hospital (The Heart of a Bucks Market Town) was written by the late Dr Peter Rudd in 1984 and is reproduced here by permission of his family. It describes the origins of the Workhouse, how it changed to a Public Assistance institution in the 1930s, and then a hospital from 1946 onwards, with wards for geriatric and "mental defective" patients, a short-lived maternity unit, and out-patient facilities, until it closed in 1978 and was largely demolished in 1983. It also includes a foreword about Dr Rudd himself by V.E. Lloyd Hart. Click on the image below to read the pamphlet in PDF format (581 KB):

Cover of Winslow Hospital pamphlet

See also:

Copyright 6 March, 2022