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Life in a Victorian Workhouse

Peter Higginbotham



Price: £6.00

Publication date: 7 April 2014

Category: Heritage

The word ‘workhouse’ has a grim resonance even today, conjuring up a vision of the darker side of Victorian Britain. Almost every town had at least one workhouse, and most people dreaded ending up there.

Here we examine how workhouses came into being, what life was like for men, women and children on the wrong side of the poverty line, and how social attitudes evolved through the momentous events of Victorian Britain into the 20th century. Illustrated from contemporary and modern sources, this fact-filled guide presents an intriguing picture of a world of steam engines, self-help, service and salvation – where workhouse life, and workhouse reform, influenced attitudes and services we now take for granted.


Peter Higginbotham first became interested in workhouses when researching his own family history and has researched and visited hundreds of former workhouse sites across the British Isles. Peter regularly contributes to Who Do You Think You Are? with his workhouse expertise, and has authored Pitkin’s Life in a Victorian Workhouse.