The Workhouse

In 1772 repairs and cleaning of the clock cost 8/1. More "flags" were cut in July and September, presumably peat, and the wheelbarrow was shod at a cost of 4/4.

The first intimation of the care of the sick by the community is to be found in the overseer's ac­ counts for April 1773. At a town meeting held at the Crown on 12th April 1773, it was agreed that Mr. Robinson shall be paid by the overseers for the ensuing year, the sum of £ 7 7s. Od. for looking after and attending the poor in the parish that are not charged in the rates. As it is Mr. Robinsons turn on the usual terms, it is agreed, if more sickness than usual should happen, that the parish will consider at the end of the year of some further satisfaction for him, and this appointment is understood to be for the ensuing year only and that midwifery is not included.

By 1796 one of my ancestors, William Jessup, was the overseer of the Workhouse and it is in­ teresting to note from a copy of the original document what the weekly diet was at this period for the inmates. Below is a copy of the meeting held at the Crown on 4th October 1796: —

When the new Poor Law Amendment Act was passed in 1834, it aimed to make the condition under which the poor were to be helped discouraging, by insisting that help would only be given to those who went into institutions. The new institutions were to be set up on a wider basis than that of the parish.

Boards of Guardians were set up to administer the new Poor Law Unions. As no such Union had taken place in the Watton area, Watton's Town House and its almshouses, plus outdoor poor relief had to cope with the increasing poverty in the period after the Napoleonic War.

Mitford and Launditch Hundred were among the first to build one of these new institutions at Gressenhall, and it is the present Beech House Museum.

The "Hundred of Wayland" became the local unit for the operation of the New Poor Law in the Watton area and the first meeting of the Guardians of Wayland Union took place at the Angel Inn at Larling on 21st September 1835. Watton was represented on the Board by Mr. Smith Hastings and Mr. William Russell. By November of that year nine offers of land had been received and the Guar­dians instructed the committee to purchase a site of just over two acres near the Street in Rockland St. Andrew. The new Wayland Union Workhouse of brick foundations, solid clay walls and a slate roof was eventually completed a few years later with accommodation for 200 people. By the end of the century this building had clearly become far too small and in October 1911 the Board of Guar­dians invited tenders for a new building on a site near Attleborough. This building was completed by 18th May 1914 at a cost of £ 14,034 and is now the Wayland Hospital. Many extensions and im­provements have obviously been carried out in the intervening years.

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