Workhouse treats?

The Uttoxeter workhouse was opened around 1789 and contained at least 17 rooms including a kitchen, dining room, and lying-in room for women delivering babies. In inventories of workhouse furnishings of 1794-5 there were at least 27 bedsteads suggesting that the total population might have fallen somewhere between 30 and 50 people.  Bed-sharing was quite commonplace in lots of eighteenth-century institutions including boarding schools.

The overseers’ vouchers for the 1820s and 1830s evidence the range of food bought for workhouse inmates and while the accounts are dominated by beef and wheat, grocery bills reveal a more varied set of purchases.

overseers grocery bill

This bill from December 1830 paid to Bagshaw & Sons itemises payments for tea and treacle, as well are nominal amounts for flavoursome additions to the diet such as nutmeg and raisins.  Were these just the ingrediants of the workhouse master’s Christmas pudding, or could the workhouse poor look forward to a seasonal treat?  Finds of other grocery bills may tell…

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