Lauren Ephithite, Assistant Curator at Gressenhall has been working with a number of community groups around the county to explore other Workhouses history.
Gressenhall was one of 22 workhouses in Norfolk. I have been working with Wicklewood Archive Group to research Wicklewood Workhouse. Together we found out more about the building and people who lived and worked there.
It was really exciting to find that there were similar things happening in Wicklewood as there were at Gressenhall. One of my favourite facts was about how important tobacco was in the 1860s. In the records the volunteers found that in 1863 the Medical Officer said that ‘if tobacco or snuff was not given to old paupers then their lives would be shortened!’
Volunteers from the Wicklewood Archive Group researched people who lived in the workhouse using records on the family history website ancestry.com and looked at original Minute Books at Norfolk Record Office in Norwich.
Cynthia Lansdell researched the life of Emarias Martin. She said ‘Despite a difficult start in life, spending the first five years of his life in the workhouse, he went on to live a good life until the age of 80, which in those days was considered a long life. Living in the workhouse was not all bad news despite harsh conditions.’
Ruth Jones said ‘the thing that stood out for me was noticing the motto on the workhouse gable in an old photograph. ‘Youth educated, age supported, infirmity relieved’. It became more obvious as we did our research what a difficult job it was to fulfil the aims.’
The research has formed a ‘pop up’ exhibition which will tour Wymondham and the Surrounding Area.
It is currently on display at Wymondham Library until the 2nd June.
Friday 3rd June to Sunday 5th June – Morley Village Beer Festival
Monday 6th June to Friday 15th July – Wymondham Baptist Church
Monday 18th July to Sunday 4th September – Wymondham Heritage Museum
Monday 5th September to Friday 30th September – Wymondham Abbey
Saturday 1st October to Friday 21st October – Wicklewood Village Hall
Saturday 22nd October to Sunday 30th October – Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse