Workhouse building title
A ten-year saga as recorded in the Minutes of the Poor Law Guardians' meetings
 

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Introduction

The Minutes - Sources The Minutes - Format The Minutes - Relevant entries Statistics Photographs & Maps

 

Early book illustration
A book illustration of the Workhouse soon after completion (© Norfolk County Council and the Picture Norfolk web site)

 

Introduction

The Aylsham Poor Law Union of 46 Parishes was constituted by an order of the Poor Law Commissioners dated 26th March 1836, as a result of the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act.  The first meeting of the Union's Board of Guardians took place in the Assembly Room of the town's Black Boys Inn on 11 April 1836, where the Reverend William Jex Blake of Lamas was elected as Chairman.  The Poor Law Guardians were elected by the ratepayers and unpaid, but most of them contributed a great deal of their time to the weekly meetings, specialised committee meetings, workhouse inspections as well as negotiations with the contractors who supplied the workhouses with goods and services.  There were already three workhouses in use within the Union district, as listed below, and a programme of alterations was put in hand immediately by the Guardians to make them more suitable for accommodating the various Classes of Union paupers.

Parish map

Over the first ten years of the Union's life it became increasingly clear to the Guardians that the existing workhouses were inadequate and inefficient, leading to higher overhead costs and a consequent effect on the Poor Rate - always an important issue for a Board that was made up of the landowners and farmers who bore the brunt of the taxation.   Unfortunately, as will be shown, the Board prevaricated and deferred implementation on several occasions.

This page tells how the new Workhouse came into being, using extracts from the minutes of the Poor Law Board meetings between 1839 and 1851.  My own comments are written <like this>.

The Minutes - sources

The original Minute Books of the Union are held by the Norfolk Record Office.  Fortunately, those covering the years 1836 to 1851 were photographed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) some years ago and the images can be viewed (if you are registered) on the FamilySearch web site at the page shown below, split between 'Aylsham' and 'Unknown.'   The other Aylsham documents have also been placed under the web page headings in a rather haphazard fashion and it took me a while to work out the structure, which I've documented in this table (a PDF file).

 Familysearch page example

Aylsham Poor Law Headings on Familysearch 

The Minutes - format 

The Minutes on Familysearch comprise 1738 images, each image being two pages of the Minutes Book.  A typical image is shown below, together with a table that gives coverage details and a cross-reference to the Catalogue References of the original documents held by the NRO.

Aylsham Minutes Example (small)       Cross-reference
Click to enlarge  

The Guardians met at 10 o'clock every Monday (later Tuesday) morning in the Black Boys' Assembly Room, which was hired from Charles Tattam, the landlord, for £25 a year 'to include firing and candles.'  Most of the regular business concerned:

The Minutes - relevant entries

21 Feb 1837

It was moved by Mr. George Cross, Seconded by Mr. Leggett, and unanimously Resolved that the workhouse at Aylsham be discontinued and that the Clerk be directed to communicate with Dr. Kay, the Assistant Poor Law Commissioner, thereon for his advice and direction thereon.  <the occupants were moved to Oulton on 25 Mar 1837>

30 Apr 1839

Resolved that the further Consideration of the Tenders this Day received for erecting a new School Room and enlarging the Women's Ward and having additional Rooms for the Sick at Buxton Workhouse be postponed until this Day Month with the view that the Board of Guardians may on that Day come to Determination on the Question whether or not it will be advisable to abandon the present Houses at Buxton and Oulton and erect in their stead a new Workhouse in a central Situation of the Union.

28 May 1839

Upon the Motion of James Gay Esqre.
Seconded by Mr. Leamon

That it is advisable to abandon the present Houses at Buxton and Oulton and erect in their stead a new Workhouse in a central Situation of the Union.

It was moved as an Amendment by
Mr. Richardson - seconded by Mr. Bleakley

And resolved that the Consideration of building a new Workhouse be postponed for Six Months, and the little necessary Repairs be done to the Buxton House by the Committee under the Direction of a Surveyor and the Expenses submitted to the Board.

2 Jul 1839

The Clerk read to the Board a Letter from Geo. Clive Esqre., Assistant Poor Law Commissioner, informing the Board that it was the Opinion of the Poor Law Commissioners there was no legal Objection to the Abandonment of the present Workhouses at Buxton and Oulton and to the Erection of a new Workhouse in a central Situation of the Union. <the Commissioners could not order the Guardians to build the workhouse>

14 Jan 1840

Resolved that the Aylsham Union have a Workhouse of its own and in a more central situation and that it be in or near Aylsham Town.

Notice is given by Mr. Richardson of his Intention to move at the next Meeting of this Board that a Committee of Guardians be appointed to carry into Effect the Resolution this Day passed for a new House.

21 Jan 1840

Resolved that a Committee be and the same is accordingly appointed to carry into Effect the Resolution of this Board on the 14th. instant for the Erection of a new Union Workhouse.

26 May 1840

Resolved and ordered that a special Meeting of the Guardians of this Union be summoned this Day Month (Tuesday the 23rd. Day of June next) at one o'clock for the Purpose of taking into Consideration the Report made this Day, by the Committee appointed for carrying into Effect the Resolution of this Board for having a new Workhouse, of the several Tenders received for the Sale of Land and the Recommendation contained in such Report for the Purchase of Land offered by Mr. Middleton.

23 Jun 1840

Upon the Motion of Mr. Richardson
Seconded by Mr. A.W. Ireland

That the Committee be empowered to conclude an Agreement with Mr. Middleton upon the best Terms they can (not exceeding his Offer) and then apply to the Poor Law Commissioners for their Sanction and Confirmation.

Upon the Motion of the Revd. W.J. Jex Blake
Seconded by Sir T.H.E. Durrant Bart.

<Both of these men were unelected ex-officio members of the Board.  It was the first time that Durrant attended.>

Resolved that the said Report be and the same rejected, the numbers being for the Amendment 24 and for the original Motion 20.

29 Nov 1842 - <Implementation of various changes to the Buxton Workhouse layout were approved in order to increase its capacity.>

21 Feb 1843

The following Representation from the Visitors of Buxton Workhouse to this Board with a view to a Resolution therein is this Day made, and having been read is directed o be entered with the minutes of the Day:

            "That in consequence of the very crowded State of the female Department in the Buxton House, especially of the two Day Rooms occupied by the married and single Women, there being in one the Dimensions of which are 18 Feet by 16 - 48 Women & Children - in the other Room of the same size 28 Women & Children, it would be inexpedient that any Additions should be made to the Numbers on this side of the House, already far exceeding that prescribed by the Poor Law Commissioners - and that no further Orders for admission into the Women's Department in the House shall be given so long as its Occupants exceed the Number in the Medical Report and the Accommodation remain in its present limited Extent."

The following Report from the Medical Officer of the Buxton Workhouse is read to the Board:

            "I beg to draw the Attention of the Board of Guardians to the sickly State of the Buxton Workhouse on the Women's Side, where many of the Children are suffering severely from Chest Complaints, apparently owing to the crowded State of the Rooms."

20th February 1843                                                           E. Copeman,  Surgeon

<4 children died of 'Fever' at Buxton within the next 3 days>

Resolved and ordered that the female Inmates of the 2nd Class in Buxton Workhouse be removed therefrom by and under the Directions of the Visitors thereof to Oulton Workhouse.  <2nd Class - possibly an error by the Clerk, as Class 2 was able-bodied men above the age of 15; perhaps this was meant to be able-bodied women (Class 5) >

28 Feb 1843

The Committee appointed at the last Meeting to meet at Oulton Workhouse for the Purpose of granting to such of the aged and infirm Inmates thereof, as were desirous of leaving the House, permission to do so, upon receiving a certain weekly Allowance as out relief, having met accordingly and reported to this Board the Names of the several Paupers who were desirous of availing themselves of such Permission with the Relief proposed to be paid weekly.

Resolved and ordered that a Sum of Money not exceeding £120 be forthwith laid out ...... in alterations thereof for the Purpose of giving additional accommodation for the Admission of a greater number of Inmates within the female Side of that Workhouse ....

14 Feb 1843 - <a number of able-bodied men applying for relief were unable to be admitted to the Workhouse and were granted outdoor relief (money and/or flour) on a temporary basis>

28 Nov 1843

The Clerk is directed to enquire of Sir John Walsham Bart. Assistant Poor Law Commissioner his opinion of the Propriety of the Relieving Officer of the Eynsford District offering to such casual Poor as may apply to him too late in the Day to be sent to either of the Workhouses the Shelter of the "Lock Up" in Reepham.

5 Dec 1843

A Letter is read to the Board from Sir John Walsham Bart. Assistant Poor Law Commissioner disapproving of the Relieving Officer sending for Shelter for the Night to the "Lock up" in Reepham such casual Poor as shall apply for relief too late in the Evening to be sent to either of the Workhouses of the Union.

2 Jan 1844

Resolved and ordered that the Clerk be directed to inform the Poor Law Commissioners that the number of Paupers in Buxton Workhouse during the last Week has been 279 and that the said House is only calculated to accommodate 280, further that the numerous Applications made at the Board this Day nine fresh orders have been granted.  The Board will be glad to know whether or not it was justified in giving such Orders under existing Circumstances and what the Commissioners would advise as the best mode to meet the present Exigencies which are likely to become more pressing.

That the Commissioners be also informed that this Board has ordered out-door Relief to one able-bodied Pauper on account of the Number of Paupers in the Buxton House.

9 Jan 1844

The Clerk read to the Board a Letter from the Poor Law Commissioners in reply to one to them on the 3d. instant respecting the great Number of Paupers in Buxton Workhouse and informing them of the Fact of Out-relief being in Consqequence given to an able bodied single woman with one Child, of which the Poor Law Commissioners approved, at the same time recommending the Guardians to convert any of the Rooms in the Workhouse into temporary Dormitories.  The Commissioners enclosed a Draft of an Order (for the consideration of the The Guardians) which they will forthwith issue, enabling the Guardians under certain Conditions to give out-door relief to able-bodied male Persons in return for Work to be provided by the Guardians.  <This is contrary to one of the main objectives of the 1934 Act, namely to stop out-door relief to able-bodied Paupers.>

Resolved and ordered that a copper Caulder <cauldron> in Size half as large again as the one now in use in Buxton Workhouse be purchased and immediately put up there in Lieu of the latter, the same being too small in Consequence of the great Number of Paupers now in the House.

Ordered that 3 Dozen Pairs of Blankets be purchased of Messrs. Bleakley, Norwich, for the use of Buxton Workhouse.

30 Jan 1844

Resolved and ordered that the Clerk do summon a special Meeting of the Guardians of this Union on Tuesday the 13th of February next to take into Consideration the annual Increase which has taken place in the Number of Paupers in the Workhouses of this Union with a view to ascertain the Cause of Increase and to adopt such Measures as may seem expedient for the future good Management of the Union.

13 Feb 1844

A Special Meeting of the Guardians was this Day held, pursuant to Notice, to take into Consideration the annual Increase which has taken place in the Number of Paupers in the Workhouse in this Union, with a view to ascertain the Cause of Increase, and to adopt such Measures as may seem expedient for the future good Management of the Union, but this Board passed no Resolution thereon.

20 Oct 1846

The following Reports from Mr. Mann the Surgeon of Buxton House are read:

Mr. Mann begs to recommend that the wooden Blinds be removed from the Exterior of the Men's Infirmary during the continuance of Fever in the House.

Mr. Mann begs to report to the Board that there are now 34 Cases of Fever in the House (some of them adult Patients) besides many Convalescents - and he begs further respectfully to suggest the Propriety of not sending any further Number of Paupers in until the Fever is removed.  It is the Nature of all Fevers to remain in crowded Houses, especially if continually fed by the Admission of new Subjects, for a considerable Time - it is therefore for the Board to take into its Consideration what Steps it would deem it right to order.

Mr. Mann would have pointed out the inefficient State of the Water Closets of the Infirmaries to the visiting Committee on Friday had they been inclined to visit them - as they did not, Mr. Mann feels it to be his Duty to report to the Board that those Conveniences are in an unsafe and inefficient State as regards the sanitary Condition of the House and likely to retard the Convalescence of the Patients.

 3 Nov 1846

The following Report of the Committee appointed to visit Buxton Workhouse and report as to the State thereof is read.

The special Committee appointed by the Board beg Leave to state that they have in Conformity with the Medical Officer's Report visited Buxton House and examined into the several Particulars therein stated and they found that both the Men and Women's sick Wards were very much affected by the Stench arising from the Water-closets and Privies by allowing the Soil and Filth to remain where deposited for weeks together, producing all the evil Consequences set forth in the Medical Officer's Report; there being no Drains or Outlets to carry it off; they further beg to state that the Yards and other Places are inefficiently ventilated, so as to render the House more unhealthy.

The Committee have no Doubt for want of better Ventilation and the removal of the night soil and other filthy Matter left there to stagnate and ferment, Fever, Disease and all Sorts of Sickness are generated and produced in the House as stated in the medical Report; and the Committee are of Opinion and would recommend to the Board that these Nuisances should be removed as soon as possible, which may be done by removing the Soil with Drains from the two Sets of Prvies and by a Supply of Water which can be easily obtained.

However, the Women's Ward will require a temporary Water Closet on the first Floor, for at present to get to the Privy they must come down into the cold Yard which is not only very improper but very dangerous for them, and by having a Hose or Pipe as recommended by the Medical Officer these Closets can be washed out once or twice a Day with the greatest Ease.  In addition, the Committee would recommend that small iron grates 6 or 8 inches square be inserted in the lower Parts of the outside Walls as well as some of the inside Rooms, which would improve Ventilation and make the Places far more healthy to live in.

The Committee beg to state, altho' there are several other Alterations that would conduce to the Health of the House yet they are very reluctant to recommend any further Outlay in and upon this House (which will always be inefficient and insufficient for the Purposes of this Union, and they express a Hope that the Time is now at Hand for the Union to have a good, proper and efficient House of its own) still, whether there is a new House or not, these Nuisances should be removed with as little Delay as possible.  The Committee are not in a Situation to state the Expence <sic> of the proposed Improvements but believe £20 or £30 will be sufficient.

Resolved that the Report above entered be and the same is approved and that the Alterations recommended therein be carried into effect forthwith under the Directions of the said Committee.

24 Nov 1846

A Letter is read from the Poor Law Commissioners .... urging upon the Guardians to take into Consideration the Propriety of building a new Workhouse.

15 Dec 1846

The following Report of the Committee appointed in February last to make a further Hire of Oulton Workhouse and to report to the Board their Opinion as to the Erection of a new Workhouse, is read:

The Committee of Guardians to whom the Letter of the P.L. Commissioners dated the 7th. Novr. 1846 was referred as to the Necessity of building a new Workhouse beg Leave to report as follows:

Your Committee first met on Tuesday the 24th. Novr. and unanimously resolved:

First - that the views of the Commissioners are correct and ought to be entertained and that this Committee acquiesce in their Opinion that a new Workhouse for this Union is absolutely necessary and ought to be built in a more central situation.

Second - that it appears to this Committee to be necessary before a proper Site can be selected or the Building of a new Workhouse begun that the Attention of the Poor Law Commissioners should be called to the present Formation and Extent of the Union to see if an Alteration might not be advantageously made in this and the adjoining Unions.

Third - that the Clerk be directed to send a Copy of these Resolutions to Sir John Walsham for his and the Poor Law Commissioners' Opinion thereon.

John Richardson
          Chairman

December 8th. 1846

Your Committee met again this Day and after duly considering the Letter of the Poor Law Commissioners unanimously Resolved:

First - that it is not advisable for the Guardians of the Aylsham Union to attempt any Alteration in its present Formation, if a central Situation for the new Workhouse can be obtained.

Second - that it appears to this Committee that certain Lands which were formerly offered by Mr. John Middleton are very eligible if they can still be had.

Robt. Leamon
        Chairman

December 15th. 1846

Your Committee met again this Day, and a Communication having been received from Mr. Middleton - they are now able to inform the Board that the same Land can now be had at the Rate of £150 per Acre agreeable to his former Offer of the 11th. May 1840 - and your Committee strongly recommend that a Contract be entered into with Mr. Middleton for the same.

Robt. Leamon

Resolved and ordered that a sufficient Number be printed of the foregoing Report for transmission to the Guardians of this Union and that a special Meeting thereof be summoned for the Purpose of taking the said Report into Consideration, this Day three Weeks.

5 Jan 1847

A special Meeting of the Guardians being convened this Day for the Purpose of taking into Consideration certain Resolutions presented to the Board on the 15 Decr. last, of a Committee appointed in February last to report their Opinion as to the Erection of a new Workhouse for the Union -

            Upon the Motion of Mr. Leamon
            Seconded by the Revd. E.T. Yates
That the Resolution so reported be now received

            It was resolved upon an Amendment proposed by the Right Honorable the Earl of Orford <Charles William Marsham, unelected ex-Officio member>
            Seconded by Robert Marsham Esqre. <unelected ex-Officio member>
That a further Consideration of the said Resolution be postponed for six Months.

            For the Amendment 23
            For the original motion 17

19 Jan 1847

A Letter is read from the P.L.C. enquiring the Grounds upon which the Guardians resolved to postpone for six Months the further Consideration of the Report of the Committee appointed to consider the Propriety of erecting a new Workhouse for the Union.

26 Jan 1847

Resolved that a Committee be appointed to examine all the Cases of Persons at present in Buxton and Oulton Workhouses with Authority to discharge from either of those Houses as many Persons as will reduce the Inmates in each House to the proper Number which the Houses are calculated to accommodate and to grant relief to such Persons as shall be so discharged for such Time and to such amount as such Committee shall consider requisite.

This Board having considered what Reply should be made to the Enquiry read to the Board last Week from the Poor Law Commissioners as to the Grounds upon which the Guardians resolved on the 5th instant to postpone for 6 months the further Consideration of the Report of the Committee appointed to consider the Propriety of erecting a new Workhouse for the Union:

Resolved that in Reply to such Enquiry the Poor Law Commissioners be informed the Resolution for such postponement was come to for the purpose of enabling the Guardians before determining to build a new Workhouse to see what Measures should be introduced in the ensuing Session of Parliament with a view to an Alteration of the Settlement Law or in the Boundaries of the Poor Law Unions.

23 Feb 1847

A Letter is read from Mr. Mann the Medical Officer of Buxton Workhouse reporting to the Board that there were 315 Inmates therein with 3 Cases of Fever of severe Nature with others of slighter Kind in the Infirmaries.

A Letter is read from the Poor Law Commissioners accompanied by an Order under their Hands and Seal (dated the 17th. February 1847) authorising the ex-officio or other Guardians to give their Consent in writing to the purchase of Land and to the Erection of a Workhouse and to the borrowing of a Sum or Sums of Money for that Purpose otherwise than at a Meeting of the Board of Guardians, at the same Time strongly urging the Guardians to rescind their Resolution pf postponement, with the view of erecting a new Workhouse as early as possible.

9 Mar 1847

This Day a special Meeting of the Guardians was held for the Purpose of taking into consideration a Suggestion of the Poor Law Commissioners for rescinding a Resolution of the Guardians on the 5th. of January last to postpone for six Months a further Consideration of the Subject of erecting a new Workhouse:

            Upon the Motion of the Revd. E.T. Yates
            Seconded by Mr. Leamon
That the Form of Consent transmitted by the P.L.C. for the Signatures of the Guardians for borrowing a Sum of Money for the Purpose of erecting a new Workhouse be properly filled up and circulated amongst the Guardians for their Signatures and for which Purpose it be referred to the Building Committee to take the necessary Steps therein with a view to the Erection of a new Workhouse capable of accommodating 600 Inmates.

            It is moved by way of an Amendment by Mr. Cross
            Seconded by Mr. Bleakley
And resolved that it is inexpedient at the present Moment to proceed further in the Erection of a new Workhouse until the end of the six Months as before resolved.

4 May 1847 - The Buxton Master, Matron and Portress tendered their resignations.

6 July 1847

It is unanimously resolved that it is now advisable to take immediate Steps for the Erection in a central Part of the Union of a new Workhouse capable of containing such a Number of Inmates as may be suitable to the Population and the other Circumstances of the Union.

Resolved that a Committee be and the same is accordingly appointed to make the necessary Enquiries with the view to the purchase of a sufficient quantity of Land, in an eligible Situation, as a Site for the erection of such new Workhouse, to determine the Number of Inmates for which accommodation shall be provided, to procure the best Plan for such Building, and to take into Consideration a Letter addressed to the Guardians of this Union upon the erection of workhouse Accommodation for the Union by John Wright Junr. Esqre.

It is ordered that Advertisements be inserted in the usual Newspapers for Tenders for Sale of about Ten Acres of Land in the Neighbourhood of Aylsham to the Guardians of this Union by the 20th. Day of this instant July when the above named Committee will meet for the Purpose of receiving the same.

3 Aug 1847

The following Report of the Committee for Building Purposes is read:

            To the Board of Guardians of the Aylsham Union.

Gentlemen

            We the Committee appointed for the Purpose of making Enquiries with the View to the Purchase of a sufficient Quantity of Land in an eligible Situation, as a site for the erection of a Workhouse,  to determine the Number of Inmates for which accommodation shall be provided, to procure the best Plan for such Building, and to take into Consideration a Letter addressed to the Guardians of this Union upon the erection of workhouse Accommodation for the Union by John Wright Junr. Esqre. upon the Subject of a new Workhouse; have to report that, at our first Meeting held on the 13th. Day of this instant July, after duly considering the several Matters referred to us, we unanimously resolved to recommend that a Workhouse be erected near to the Town of Aylsham, capable of containing and classifying 600 Inmates; and that 10 Acres of Land more or less be purchased, upon Part of which to erect a Workhouse.

We at the same Time directed the Clerk to the Union to request the Poor Law Commissioners to furnish us with Information as to the most eligible Plans in their Opinion, for the Erection of such a Workhouse.

At our next Meeting, an Offer was made to us by Mr. John Middleton, of Sparham, to sell to the Guardians about Twelve acres of Land near to the Town of Aylsham, at the Price of £100 per Acre - but, before deciding to recommend this Purchase to the Guardians, we considered it advisable to be informed whether Mr. Middleton would, in addition to the Land proposed to be sold let to the Guardians, if at any time hereafter they should require such an Occupation, from 20 to 30 Acres of Land, conveniently (near the Workhouse proposed to be erected) for the Purpose of Cultivation.

And at our last Meeting on the 27th. instant, we were informed by Letter from Mr. Middleton that he will be prepared to let to the Guardians 10, 20 or 30 Acres of Land contiguous to the Land proposed to be sold, for a Term of Years at the Rent of £3 per Acre to be given up at any Time at the Will of the Guardians, upon Terms to be agreed upon by Reference in the usual Way.

At this last Meeting the Committee received another Offer from Mr. Parmeter of about six Acres of Land upon Marsham Heath for Sale, upon much lower Terms, with an Intimation that Mr. John Wright would accommodate the Union with adjoining Lands upon hire for Labour.  The Committee however taking an impartial and comprehensive View of the whole Subject, and being fully convinced that the Site of the new Workhouse must be either in immediate Proximity to the Town of Aylsham, or in the very centre of the Union, and the Land offered by Mr. Parmeter answering neither of these Descriptions; also the Superiority of the Land offered by Mr. Middleton, both for Sale and for Occupation, together with its proximity to the Town of Aylsham far outweighing all other Considerations we have resolved strongly to recommend the Guardians to accept Mr. Middleton's offer of Land, both for purchase and hire.

With regard to the Letter addressed to the Guardians by Mr. John Wright, we beg to state that we are not prepared to recommend its adoption, inasmuch as Mr. John Wright's views of a separate Establishment for School Purposes would not only incur additional Expense, but are not sanctioned by the Poor Laws.

We have received at present no satisfactory answer from the Poor Law Commissioners relative to any Plan for a Workhouse, but we advise that the plain Question be repeated to them when the best Model of a Workhouse for containing and classifying 600 Inmates can be seen.

                                                                                    Signed
2nd. August 1847                                                                      W.J. Jex Blake

Resolved that the said Report be and the same is received and that the Recommendations contained therein be adopted forthwith.

5 Oct 1847

An Order is produced to the Board under the Hands and Seal of the Poor Law Commissioners authorising the Purchase of Land and the erection thereon of a Workhouse for this Union at Expense not exceeding £12,000.

23 Nov 1847

The Clerk is directed to write to Mr. W.J. Donthorn, whose Plan is approved by the Building Committee, for his Attendance on the Day of the Special Meeting when the same will be submitted to the Guardians for their Approval.

The Builder Magazine of 4 December 1847 included this comment.  There had been no Board discussion about the reward that is mentioned.

Builder extract
William John Donthorn was a notable English architect of the early 19th century and one of the founders of what became the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).   He was born at Swaffham in 1799 and died at London in 1859.

His advice to the Guardians was very often ignored, as was the case with the Beckham workhouse and the Guardians of the Erpingham Union.  He seems to have been a strong-willed and obsessive character.

See also: http://www.workhouses.org.uk/buildings/Donthorn.shtml 

7 Dec 1847

A Special Meeting of the Guardians being this Day held for the Purpose of taking into Consideration the Plan recommended by the Building Committee for adoption by the Guardians in the erection of a new Workhouse for this Union - and a Plan by Mr. Donthorn being now recommended by such Committee and this Board having inspected the same and suggested certain Alterations and pointed the same out to Mr. Donthorn (who attended this Meeting at the request of the Guardians) and who concurred therein -

Resolved that it is a Request of this Board that the Building Committee take into their Consideration the Alterations required in Mr. Donthorn's Plan and ascertain from him whether with these Alterations he will complete the Building for the Sum proposed (£9,000).

21 Dec 1847

Resolved that such Plan with the several Alterations proposed to be made therein be and the same is approved.

22 Feb 1848

The following Report of the Building Committee is read:

To the Guardians of the Aylsham Union

Gentlemen

We your Committee appointed for Building Purposes have to report that, in furtherance of our Duties we advertised for Tenders of a Loan of £2400, being the Sum required immediately for completing the Purchase and Enfranchisement of the Land procured by us for a Workhouse Site in Aylsham and we met specially on Tuesday last to receive such Tenders but no Tenders in conformity with the Advertisements were forwarded to us but Offers were verbally made by two Gentlemen of the Sum required, payable by annual Instalments as shall be agreed upon with Interest at the Rate of £5 pr: Cent: pr: Ann: and having no other Tenders we agreed to accept one of these so offered made by Mr. Warnes of Aylsham, which can be immediately advanced and will be secured under the Approval of the Poor Law Board by four several Bonds of £600 each, in conformity with our Advertisements.

22nd. February 1848                                                        Signed   J.H. Holley

Robert Bleakley                        Wightman Sooby
Benjn. Cubitt                            John Shepheard
Wm. B. Gill                               H.E. Soame
Edmund T. Yates

7 Mar 1848

A Letter is read from the Poor Law Board upon returning the Plan of Mr. Donthorn for a new Workhouse for this Union approved by them.

28 Mar 1848

Resolved that the Agreement reported to this Board on the 22 Day of February last for a Loan by Mr. Warnes of the Sum of £2400 for Building Purposes with Interest at £5 pr. Cent. pr. Annum be and the same is accordingly appointed.

4 Apr 1848

A Letter is produced from the Poor Law Board stating that they are not aware of any Objection to an individual Guardian making a Loan and taking the usual Security from the Guardians.

The Agreement between Mr. William Soame and the Guardians of this Union for the Supply of Bricks for the erection of the new Workhouse at 24s/: pr. Thousand received the Seal of the Guardians.

25 Apr 1848

The following Report of the Building Committee is read -

To the Board of Guardians of the Aylsham Union
                        The Report of the Building Committee

We beg to report that we this Day specially met or the Purpose of receiving Tenders for the Erection of the new Workhouse and we examined several Tenders and recommend that of Messieurs Sissons & Robinson for such Erection to be accepted for the Sum of £9450.  We have also received a Tender from Messieurs John Parlour & Sons to put up heating Apparatus for effectively warming such new Workhouse for the Sum of £230 and have agreed with them for the Execution of the same.

And we have agreed to allow the Architect Mr. Donthorn £5 per Cent. upon the Amount of the Contracts above mentioned and we have also agreed to allow to the Clerk of Works the Sum of £2..2.. with three shillings for Lodging weekly.

We have also agreed to accept Mr. Leamon's Offer of a Loan of £2400 at £5 per Centum per Annum to be secured by Bonds of £600 each and repaid as the Loan from Mr. Warnes.

                                                                                               W.J. Jex Blake

25th. April 1848

5 May 1848

An Order is ... prepared on the Treasurer payable to Messrs. John & E.P. Middleton for the Sum of £1223..17..8 in Discharge of Purchase Money and Interest thereon of Land purchased for Union House about to be erected in Aylsham.

23 May 1848

The Common Seal of the Guardians is affixed by the Chairman to a Deed of Contract bearing Date the 17th. Day of May 1848 and entered into by them with Mr. William Sissons and Mr. Randal Robinson for building a new Workhouse &c. for this Union.

From the Builder Magazine of 6 May 1848

Builder May 1848

18 Jul 1848

The Building Committee having reported to this Board that Mr. William Soame had presented his first Bill for Bricks delivered and recommended that the same should be paid amounting to £240.17.  It is ordered that a Check be prepared on the Treasurer in discharge thereof.

<further bills were presented on 5 Sep 48 (£317.17.10) and 24 Apr 49 (£324.6.6)>

 28 Nov 1848

The Building Committee having reported to this Board that a further Loan of £2,400 required for carrying on the Erection of the new Workhouse had been tendered by John Warnes Esqre. and accepted by them to be secured by 4 several Bonds of £600 each payable by 20 annual Instalments with Interest at the Rate of £5 pr. Cent. pr. Annum.

Resolved that such Loan to be secured and payable with Interest as before mentioned be and the same is approved and accepted and 4 several Bonds are now prepared and executed for securing the same.

16 Jan 1849

A Letter addressed to this Board from Messrs. Sissons and Robinson the Contractors for the Erection of the new Workhouse upon the Subject of the Suspension during the Winter of the Brick-work is referred to the Building Committee.

6 Feb 1849

A Letter is read from the Architect (dated 2d. instant) wherein he states he cannot recommend any further Advance at present to the Building Contractors.

13 Feb 1849

Mr. Donthorn the Architect attended the Board pursuant to the Desire of the last Meeting in consequence of a further Application from the Building Contractors, Messrs. Sissons and Robinson, having last Week applied for the Payment of the 6th. and 7th. Instalments stated to be due to them under their Contract, but the Architect considering that the Walls of the Building are not sufficiently advanced to entitle the Contractors to the Payment of such Instalments refuses his Certificate to warrant the Guardians in making such Payment.

20 Feb 1849

Upon the Motion of James Hunt Holley Esqre.
Seconded by Mr. Leamon

Resolved and ordered that a Check be prepared upon the Treasurer of the Union payable to the Contractors of the Sum of £500 as an accommodation to them on Account of the Payments due on the next Certificates of the Architect; but upon this express Understanding that the Advance of this Money shall not in any way prejudice the Contract.

27 Feb 1849

The following Letter is presented from the Clerk of the Works.

Office of Works, New Union House, Aylsham.
To the Building Committee of the New Union House.

Gentlemen,

            I beg to inform you the Contractors continue to perform Works contrary to the Architect's directions.

I am Gentlemen
Your most obedient Servant
February 27th. 1849.                                                                         Edwd. Tull
Clerk of the Works

13 Mar 1849

The Clerk of the Works reports to the Board that the Building Contractors are performing Works contrary to the Architect's Direction.

20 Feb 1849

A Letter is read from Edward Tull, Clerk of the Works at the new Workhouse stating that the Building Contractors are proceeding therewith contrary to the Architect's Direction.

1 May 1849

The Building Committee reports their acceptance of another Loan of £2400 at £5 pc. pr. Annum of Robert Leamon Esqre. for Building Purposes.

Resolved that such Loan be and the same is accordingly sanctioned.

22 May 1849

Resolved and ordered that a Letter from the Architect respecting the putting up a Bell and Fittings at the new Workhouse and two Letters from the Building Contractors for the Payment of another Instalment due upon the Roof being placed upon three Story Buildings and an Application to the Guardians to bear a Part of the Cost of pointing the Brickwork rendered necessary from the Frost be laid before the Building Committee for which Purpose a Special Meeting thereof on Tuesday next at the usual Time to be summoned by the Clerk.

26 May 1849

The Building Committee having advertised for Tenders for supplying and putting up a Clock and Bell at the new Workhouse and received several such Tenders proceeded to the Selection therefrom of one of a suitable Quality and Price and having made such Selection reported the same to this Board, recommending the Tender made by Mr. <John> Fitt of Aylsham of supplying and putting up complete  Turret Clock and Bell at the new Workhouse for the Sum of £53..10.. -

Resolved that the Recommendation of the Building Committee be and the same is approved and that the Clock and Bell as tendered for by Mr. Fitt be purchased of him for the Sum stated in his Tender £49..19.. with an allowance to him of the Sum of £4 towards fixing the same.

But in the Builder Magazine of 9 June 1849:

Clock tender

31 Jul 1849

The following Tender addressed to one of the Guardians of this Union for fitting up the large Room purposed to be used as a Chapel and Dining Room at the new Workhouse is read:

Aylsham July 31st. 1849

Revd. Sir,

            Agreeable to your request I have forwarded a price for Materials & Labour to fit up the Dining Hall at the Aylsham Union House to be completed in a masterly and workmanlike manner agreeable to the Plans and Specifications and to the satisfaction of the Architect for the Sum of Seventy one Pounds £71..0..0.

Beg me your Obt. Servt.
Wm. Bartram

P.S. I have estimated for 2 supports to each Table and seat and 76 ranges of Tables and Seats which is 19 ranges on each side of the Room.  The Material to be good Red Wood Deal.

Resolved that this Tender be and the same is accepted.

14 Aug 1849

It is resolved that the following Officers be appointed for the new Workhouse with the several Salaries undermentioned on the 18th. Septr. next:

 

 

 

£

A Master with an annual Salary of

...........................

55

A Matron

Do.

...........................

25

A Schoolmaster

Do.

...........................

25

A Schoolmistress

Do.

...........................

15

A Porter

Do.

...........................

20

A Portress

Do.

...........................

12

An Infirmary Nurse

Do.

...........................

12

The above named Officers to have Lodging in the said Workhouse with the usual Rations

 

 

 

£

A Surgeon with an annual Salary of

...........................

25

And the usual extra Medical and Vaccination Fees according to the Order of the Poor Law Board, such Officer to provide the necessary Medicines and other Requisites in Accordance with the Rules and Orders of the Poor Law Commissioners.
And a Chaplain with an annual Salary of £50 whose Duty it shall be to read Prayers and preach a Sermon to the Paupers & other Inmates of the Workhouse on every Sunday and on Good Friday and Christmas day, to examine the Children and catechise the same and visit the sick Paupers under the Orders now issued or hereafter to be issued by the Poor Law Board.

18 Sep 1849 <the first round of staff appointments>

It is resolved that the several Persons hereafter named be and they are accordingly elected to the several Offices with the several Salaries following:

Chaplain - The Reverend Stephen Atkinson Cooke with a Salary of £50, the Duties being stated or referred to at a Meeting of this Board held the 14th. Day of August last.

Surgeon - Mr. Robert James Mann, with a Salary of £25 and the usual extra Medical fees (and Vaccination fees) p.a. if latter allowable.

Master and Matron - William Starters and Wife, the Master with a Salary of £55 and the Matron with a Salary of £25 and the usual Rations and Washing and Lodging in the House.

Schoolmaster - Francis Slipper, with a Salary of £25 and the usual Rations and Washing and Lodging in the House.

Schoolmistress - Mary Owen, with a Salary of £20 and the usual Rations and Washing and Lodging in the House.

Porter - Charles Hill, with a Salary of £20 and the usual Rations and Washing and Lodging in the House.

Portress - Ann Miller, with a Salary of £12 and the usual Rations and Washing and Lodging in the House.

But one Candidate only having offered for the Situation of Infirmary Nurse, the Election of such an Officer is postponed for the present.

25 Sep 1849

Four Bonds for the Sum of £600 for securing the repayment of £2400 with Interest at the Rate of £4½ pr. Cent. to Mr. John Smith of Scottow, Farmer, in Discharge of a Building Loan advanced by him this Day to the Guardians of this Union as a Charge upon the Poor Rates of the Union, received the Seal of the Guardians and the Signature of the Majority thereof now present.

2 Oct 1849 <the first meeting in the Board Room of the new Workhouse>

The following Letter and Report from Mr. Mann the Surgeon appointed for the new Workhouse are read:

Buxton September 30th. 1849

Sir,

            I herewith transmit to you the Result of the Survey which I have made in the new Union House with a view to determining the Number that the several Sleeping Rooms will safely accommodate.  I consider that the Rooms marked by numerals in the Plan as 5 - 6 - 10 - 11 - 16 - 17 - 20 - 21 - 22 - 27 - 31 - 33 - 34 - 36 - 37 - 39 - 40 - 42 and the able bodied Men's Work Room - the drying Room for Linen and the probationary Wards required improved Ventilation.  I have furnished Mr. Tull (Clerk of the Works) with the numbers of these Rooms and Suggestions on the Plans that I consider most likely to meet the needs of the Case.

I am &c.

To the Clerk to the Guardians                                                       Robert James Mann

Number of Inmates that the several sleeping Rooms of the Aylsham Union House will comfortably accommodate (the Numbers refer to Roman Numerals on the Plan ).

 

 

Inmates

Class of able bodied Women

No. 5

6

 

No. 6

6

 

No. 7

7

 

No. 8

7

 

No. 10

26

 

No. 11

26

 

No. 12

15

 

No. 13

18

 

 

111

The Lying-in Rooms

No. 16

8

 

No. 17

8

 

No. 18

2

 

No. 19

8

 

 

26

The Nursery for Children

No. 20

30

Class of able bodied Men

No. 21

26

 

No. 22

26

 

No. 23

16

 

No. 24

22

 

 

90

Class of aged Women

No. 25

14

 

No. 25*

4

 

No. 26

20

 

 

38

Class of aged Men

No. 27

9

 

No. 28

9

 

No. 29

12

 

No. 30

14

 

 

44

Class of Girls

No. 31

16

 

No. 33

32

 

No. 34

16

 

No. 36

32

 

 

96

Class of Boys

No. 37

16

 

No. 39

32

 

No. 40

16

 

No. 42

32

 

 

96

Class of old married Couples

No. 43

2

 

No. 44

2

 

No. 45

2

 

No. 46

2

 

No. 47

2

 

 

10

The Idiot Wards

No. 48

4

 

No. 49

4

 

 

8

Probationary Wards

Women

7

 

Men

7

 

 

14

The Infirmary

Women's

20

 

Men's

20

 

Women's Itch Ward

8

 

Men's Itch Ward

8

 

 

56

Summary for the several Classes

 

 

 

Boys

96

 

Girls

96

 

Able-bodied Men

90

 

Able-bodied Women

111

 

Old Men

44

 

Old Women

38

 

Married Couples

10

 

Lying-in Rooms

26

 

Nursery

30

 

Probationary Wards

14

 

Infirmaries

40

 

Itch Wards

16

 

Idiot Wards

8

 

 

619

Signed      Robert James Mann
M.R.C.S.

It is ordered that the foregoing letter and Report of Mr. Mann be forwarded to the Poor Law Board.

9 Oct 1849

Resolved that William Lomax of Aylsham be and he is accordingly appointed Barber at the new Workhouse there at the Salary at and after the Rate of Twelve Pounds per Annum.

The following are the Numbers of the Paupers in the Workhouses <final totals before they moved out>:

In Buxton - 16 Men, 29 Women, 102 Youths &c.

147 Total

    Oulton  - 41 Men, 19 Women, 1 Youth

61   Total

 

208

16 Oct 1849

The following Report from the Committee appointed to superintend the Removal of the Inmates in Oulton Workhouse to the new Workhouse at Aylsham is read.

We beg to report that the Paupers from the Oulton House were removed without any casualty to the new House at Aylsham on Thursday the 11th. Inst. and are now comfortably lodged in the Wards temporarily allotted to them.  The Furniture & Fixtures were also removed with the exception of a stove in the Governor's Room and a Grate in the Women's Ward which Mr. Parmeter agreed to take at a Valuation on the part of Lady Suffield <of Blickling Hall - Lady of the Manor>.  Some Shelving &c. which although paid for by the Union we did not consider removeable, and an old Bedstead and Table which the incoming Tenant agreed to take at a Sum fixed by us, viz. six shillings.

Aylsham

Edmund T. Yates

Oct. 16th. 1849

Wightman Sooby

 

H.E. Soame

 30 Oct 1849

The following Report of the furnishing Committee is read:

"We beg to report to the Board that in Obedience to the Directions received on the 15th. of October we superintended the Removal of the Paupers from Buxton to the new House and also some of the Effects belonging to the Guardians and that such Removal was completed on Thursday last the 25th."

Aylsham

Edmund T. Yates

Oct. 30th. 1849

Wightman Sooby

It is resolved and ordered that the Wages hitherto paid to Robert Catter the Shoemaker at the Workhouse be continued to him notwithstanding his late absence from Indisposition.

Resolved that Charlotte Dowson be and she is accordingly appointed Infirmary Nurse at the Workhouse in Aylsham at a Salary at and after the Rate of Twelve Pounds per Annum with the usual Establishment Rations commencing from Saturday next (3d. Novr.).

11 Dec 1849 <including examples of Tenders at the new Workhouse>

Resolved that a Special Meeting of the Guardians be summoned on Tuesday next to take into Consideration the exhausted State of the Building Fund.

The following Tenders for supplying this Union with the undermentioned Provisions and other Articles are accepted.

From Mr. F. Copeman.  Flour for 3 Months to 25th. March 1850.
Good Seconds Flour
at Aylsham Workhouse at 1s./4½d. per Stone.  At the several Stations in the Eynsford and Buxton Districts at 1s./6d. per Stone.

Bread for 3 Months to 25th. March 1850.  Good wheaten Bread of seconds Flour at pr. Stone of 16 lbs. Weight at Aylsham Workhouse at 1s./4½d. per Stone.
By Mr. Robert Houghton of Norwich.

Butchers' Meat for 3 months to 25th. March 1850.
Good Steer Beef in whole fore Quarters &c. at the Workhouse at Aylsham.  At per Stone of 14 lbs. Weight at 5s./- per Stone by
Mr. James Doughty of North Walsham.

Drapery for six Months by Mr. Robert Hubbard of Aylsham.

Grocery for 3 Months to 15th. March 1850 as under:

Fresh Butter at per pint                   1s/2d

Mustard at per lb.                         -/7d

Good Firkin Butter at per lb.             -/7d

Starch at per lb.                            -/4d

Raw Sugar @ pr. Stone                 4s/3d

Stone Blue at per lb.                     -/8d

Black Tea  @ per lb.                       3s/2d

Black Lead at per lb.                    -/3d

Green Tea @ per lb.                      3s/3d

Vinegar no. 16 & 18 at per Gall.  -/11d

Yellow Soap @ per St.                   4s/3d

Soda @ per Cwt.                        6s/3d

Molasses @ per St.                        2s/6d

Candles @ per doz. lbs.            4s/4½d

Rice @ per St.                                1s/9d

Edam Cheese @ per Cwt.          41s/-

Salt @ per Cwt.                               2s/-

Gouda Cheese @ per Cwt.         35s/-

Pepper @ per lb.                             -/11d

Oils - Shoe & lamp @ per Gall.    3s/-

By Mr. William Bardwell, Charing Cross, Norwich

18 Dec 1849

A Special Meeting of the Guardians being this Day convened for the Purpose of taking into Consideration the exhausted State of the Building Fund of £12,000.

Upon the Motion of Wm. L. Jex Blake Esq.
Seconded by Mr. Thorne

Resolved unanimously that Application be forthwith made to the Poor Law Board for an Order authorizing the Guardians to raise by Loan or Loans to complete the erection of and Fittings at the new Workhouse a Sum not exceeding Two Thousand Pounds.

15 Jan 1850

The following Report from the Architect is read:

To the Chairman and Board of Guardians
of the Aylsham Union

Mr. Chairman & Gentlemen
                        On surveying the Works last Week I have to report that there were several Items belonging to the Contract which require to be attended to, which I have divided under three Heads.

First - Those Items which the Contractor have agreed to do by Tuesday the 13th. instant as follows =

Wood Screws at Back of Entrance Doors
Top-rail to Iron Palisade to be fastened.
Door jamb t straighten at the West Stable.
Trimming sailing Course under Eaves to Stable.
Risers to Steps must be secured.
Ceiling to stairs over Basement Stairs.
Sliding Board to Door in married Couples' Day Room.
Rehang two Privy Doors in Idiots' Yards.
Guardians' Water Closet, the joints to seats broken.
Casement fastening in Passage adjoining W.C.
1 Pair able Women's Bed Room Casement fastening

Secondly - The Stone Floors to Scullery Wash house must be laid with a proper Fall.  The Contractors state, as the Fixtures are no Part of their Work the Guardians should be a Part of the Expense, which appears reasonable.

Thirdly - Those Items which cannot reasonably be done the next three or four Months till the dry and mild weather returns, such as the pointing to Piers - walls - to the House and Infirmary - Boundary and Division Walls - Back Gates &c. - The wet getting into the Gables - some of the Fillitting cracked and the Scow and Wet getting in at the Roofs - These are Points which cannot be executed satisfactorily and with Certainty till the Summer is approaching.  In the meantime, as you may naturally wish to bring the Business to as small a Compass as possible, I inclose you the detailed account of the Extras, amounting to the Sum of £343..0..8.

I regret the Suggestions I pointed out to you some Months ago to get rid of the Steam have not been in the slightest attended to.  What you have done since is perfectly useless.  The main Object is to arrange the Boilers, Steamers and Washing Trays <such> that the Steam be kept out of the Rooms, which could easily have been accomplished had they been fixed according to the original Plans signed by the Contractor.  Mr. Robinson is now here and witnesses the same and will personally explain the same to you tomorrow.

You have every Room you want, all that is now required is to get rid of the Steam.

I have been accidentally informed that it is contemplated to build a new wash-house, this would be utterly unnecessary and only waste public Money.  Having accidentally met one of the Guardians at the Time I was surveying the House, he informed me of two Schemes that himself and another Guardian wish to recommend - I bow with every Respect and wish to please every Guardian.  The only one of the Schemes at all feasible appears to be a boiling House to bring in the two large old Coppers, according to the Plan and Section I now inclose,  leaving the Sides open all round having a Space between that and the Wash-house Door, to act as a Quarantine for the Steam which would cost, including the Removal of the two large old Coppers, £25..5..4.

If my Plan had been acted upon, for which I made an express Journey from London by your Order three Months ago, the Wash house would have been satisfactorily completed at an Expense less than what you have now incurred for the Salary of the Clerk of the Works and you are no forwarder now than you were then because you have done Nothing whatever to the Purpose.

I remain
   Mr. Chairman & Gentlemen
               Your obedient Servant
                           W.J. Donthorn

A special Meeting of the Guardians being this Day held for the Purpose of taking into Consideration the Report of the Building Committee respecting the necessity of providing a more suitable Wash-house at the new Workhouse and of making an additional Call upon the Parishes of about £600 towards the completion of and Fittings for the new Workhouse, and Plans being submitted for the Approval of this Board for remedying the Defects complained of as existing in the present Wash house:

Resolved that the Plan suggested by John Wright Junr. Esqre. be and the same is approved and ordered to be carried into effect forthwith.

22 Dec 1849

A Letter is read from the Building Contractors stating their Regret that Dissatisfaction exists with Reference to the Performance of their Contract and announcing their Determination of going to Arbitration under the Clause in the Contract and naming Mr. George Enoch, of Basinghall Street, London, a Surveyor, as Arbitrator on their Behalf, and calling upon the Board to nominate another Person as Arbitrator on Behalf of this Union.

Resolved that Mr. Bartram's Tender for providing and hanging Gates and fixing Posts at the approaches to the Workhouse is accepted.

5 Feb 1850

Resolved that the Tender of William Shreeve to supply the Workhouse of this Union until the 25th. Day of March next with good sound Potatoes at £3..5..  pr. Ton be and the same is accepted.

12 Feb 1850

Resolved unanimously that Mr. Stannard, Architect and Surveyor, Norwich, be requested to meet the Building Committee on Tuesday next at Eleven o' Clock in the Forenoon, for the Purpose of inspecting the Building Contract and the several Works and Buildings erected by the Contractors and reporting to the Guardians his Opinion thereon and of the Existence of any Cause for proceeding to Arbitration thereon.

26 Feb 1850

Resolved and ordered that it be an Instruction to the future Superintendent of Labour at the Workhouse that he require of each adult able-bodied male Inmate there who shall be employed upon the Land belonging to the Union as a Task of Work in digging thereon at least four Rods pr. Day.

The following Report of Mr. Joseph Stannard Junr. upon the Execution of the Contract for building the new Workhouse for this Union:

Norwich, February 21st. 1850

To the Building Committee of the Board of Guardians of the Aylsham Union

Gentlemen,

             I have carefully examined the new Workhouse at Aylsham and compared every Part thereof with the Specification attached to the Contract for its erection and have to make the following Remarks:

I find that in some Parts the Joints of Mortar exceed the Limits specified, that is four joints exceed one Inch in height, but this appears to have been occasioned by the Variation in the Thickness of the Bricks, which would prevent the Workmen from keeping the Joint within the proposed Limit.

The Coping of the Boundary and Party Walls is not Brick on Edge as described in the Specification, but a Brick saddle Coping, which I understood from the Clerk of the Works was provided by the Guardians, an Allowance should therefore be made by the Contractor for the Quantity of Bricks that would have been required for this Coping.

The Bricks are not of the best Quality and in some of the Walls several Bricks have been used on the Outside which have already scaled, it does not appear that sufficient Pains have been taken in assorting the Bricks when drawn from the Clamps which should have been done by the Brick-maker, the Contractor having a just Expectation that the Bricks would have been delivered to him on the same Conditions as they would have been had they been bought in a Merchant's Yard.

The Tanks and Drains are totally different from the Plan & Specification, but I understand this was by special agreement and that an additional Sum has been or is to be paid for the Alteration.

The Party Walls of the Yards vary from seven Feet to nine Feet in Height.  For the purpose of preventing Escape it would be necessary that they should be as high as the Boundary Walls which are nine Feet and eleven Feet.  I learn from the Contractor that at the Time of making his Estimate he could obtain no Information as to the Height they would be required and that he calculated in his Estimate to make all the Division Walls seven Feet High (although that Height was originally inserted and afterwards struck out of the Specification).  He also represents that the present Height of these Walls was fixed by & was satisfactory to Mr. Donthorn.

The Brickwork of the Party & Boundary Walls is much injured by the Frost, much more so that it would have been had the Works been completed by the Time specified in the Contract, the answer given to me was that the Bricks were laid as quickly as the Guardians supplied them.

The Slating is executed agreeably to the Description in the Specification and with sufficient Lap and the Slates are stronger than Countess Slates usually are but the Batten Laths are very insufficient and the Slates will consequently be constantly subject to be displaced and not being pointed and the Situation very exposed the Water will find its way through with either Snow or Rain driven by a high Wind.

I noticed a considerable Discharge of water by Water Pipes from the higher Buildings on the Slating of the Roofs of the Boys' and Girls' Wards, no Troughs being provided to convey it to the Eaves' Gutters, without which I think it will not be possible to prevent the Water finding its Way through the Slating.

The boarded Floors throughout the Building are described to be white Wood or red Wood Deal at the option of the Contractor.  They are all of white wood Deal, even those of the ground Floor Rooms, although red Wood Deal is in every Respect much the more durable.

The angle Beads have been omitted in the Board Room and the angles floated.  This I am informed was by the particular Direction of Mr. Donthorn after the angle Beads were prepared and ready to be fixed.

The Door cases are according to the Specification but have been made of green Oak and consequently from shrinking have loosened the Mortar in which they were embedded and not being fixed in the middle of the Walls are not so well secured by the Toothings as they would have been had they been so placed.  I am also of Opinion that the Scantling is too small for Door cases subjected to such rough Usage.

The Fillitting where the Slating abuts the Gables and Walls is defective and not being protected by the Projection of the Coping or a Course of salient Bricks I have Doubts of it being made permanently secure.

The floor of the Wash house is not laid with sufficient Fall and consequently the Water stands in considerable Quantities on Parts of the Floor.

With regard to the Question whether it would be advisable for the Guardians to avail themselves of the Arbitration Clause in the Contract, I would observe that the Specification is so incomplete and so vaguely drawn up that I am fully convinced that they would derive no Advantage from it and upon the whole I consider the Specification to have been fairly carried out.

I remain &c.
             Joseph Stannard Junr.
                         Surveyor - Norwich

John Wright Junr. Esqre. withdraws his Motion at a former Meeting of this Board that no more Money be paid to the Building Contractors under their Contract until the Guardians shall be satisfied that the whole of the Works have been properly executed.

<It seemed odd that the Board chose to buy in bricks from William Soame rather than allow them to be part of the overall building contract, but it's likely that Soame had connections with one or more Guardians.  The embarrassment caused by the Surveyor's letter must have been considerable.  See 26 Mar 1850 below.>

3 Mar 1850

A Letter is read from Mr. Donthorn stating his Inability to attend the Meeting of Guardians this Day, which Letter was accompanied with a Statement signed by several eminent Architects and Builders giving their Opinion that the Builders are bound to leave the Slating as well as all other Parts of the Works at the Workhouse in a sound, perfect and efficient State and that Mr. Donthorn cannot be called upon to certify the Completion of the Works, nor ought the Contractors to be paid any Balance until the Works are completed to his Satisfaction.

12 Mar 1850

Coffins for twelve months to 25th. March 1851.  Coffins five Feet long and upwards made of good Yellow Deal or red pine with Elm or Beech bottoms and with proper battens to the sides and properly pitched inside, to be 7/8ths. of an Inch in thickness with 12 In. ends @ 1s/5d per Foot.  Coffins under 5 Feet long to be 5/8ths of an Inch in thickness with 7/8ths. of an In. Ends at 1s/4d per Foot.  To be delivered free of Expense at the Workhouse and at the Stations at Reepham and Foulsham - by Mr. William Sewell, Reepham.

Coals for six Months - 19s/6d pr. Ton
Cinders    --- " --- 18s/6d pr. Chaldron of 36 Bushels.
Coke        --- " ---  15s/- pr. Chaldron of 36 Bushels.

 26 Mar 1850

Resolved that William Olley be and he is appointed Superintendent of Labour at the Workhouse upon Trial at the Wages of six Shillings per Week with Board, Washing and Lodging in the House.

Resolved that in future no Member of this Board be employed as a Tradesman in or about the Workhouse or supply any Article for use or Consumption therein, and that all Articles recommended to be procured or Work to be done be first entered in the Visitors' Book and read at the Board the next Board day.

9 Apr 1850

Resolved that the quantity of Oakum to be picked by the Inmates of the Workhouse be as under:

Men.       3 lbs. daily each.
Women.  2 lbs. daily each.

14 May 1850

Resolved that John Fairweather Cattermole be and he is accordingly elected Superintendent of Labour at the Workhouse of this Union at the Weekly Wages of Ten Shillings with Board, equal to the Rations of the other Officers in the Workhouse and Washing and Lodging therein.

21 May 1850

Resolved and ordered that Two Tons of Junk be purchased in Yarmouth by Mr. James Brown of Itteringham or picking into Oakum by the Inmates of the Workhouse.

21 May 1850

A Letter is read from Mr. Donthorn the Architect of which the following is a Copy:

18 Hanover St., Hanover Sq.   July 15 1850

Aylsham Union

Gentlemen,

            Having received your Letter dated 10th Instant & wishing for nothing but what is Just & reasonable, the only way to settle it is by Arbitration.  I therefore name on my Part Sydney Smirke Esqre. of No. 8 Berkley Square who has consented to act on my Behalf.

                                                                   I remain,

To the Chairman &                                                    Gentlemen,

Board of Guardians                                                          Your faithful Servt.

                                                                                                W.J. Donthorn

Resolved that no Reply be made to the above Letter.

30 Jul 1850

A Notice is given by Mr. Sooby of his Intention at the next Meeting of the Guardians to move that a female Vagrant Ward be made out of a Part of the Female Ward and that a Fireplace be provided in the Tailor's Shop and to heat the Water in the Boy's Bath.

6 Aug 1850

Resolved that a suitable Building be forthwith erected for the Purposes of a female Vagrant Ward in an opposite Position to that lately provided as a male Vagrant Ward  <no previous mention of that> but at an Expense not exceeding the Costs of providing the latter Ward.

15 Oct 1850

The Clerk is directed to write to Messrs. <Henry> Parlour & Sons of Norwich urging them to complete immediately their Undertaking with the Board for providing a proper heating apparatus at the workhouse in Aylsham, otherwise Steps will have to be taken for the Loss sustained by the Guardians by the nonfulfillment of such Contract.

15 Oct 1850

A Letter is read from Messrs. Repton and Scott, accompanied with a Report from a Mr. Thorold, applying for the Sum of £500 as a Compensation to Mr. George Soame for the Injury suffered by the erection of Aylsham Workhouse near to his Mill and proposing a Reference to Arbitration.

<George Soame was the the brother of Guardian Henry Edward Soame.  His windmill was to the South East of the Workhouse as shown on the map below.  Its brick structure is still standing and has been converted into a house.  See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cawston_Road_Mill,_Aylsham .  Prevailing winds are from the South West.>

Location of windmill

The Clerk is directed to acknowledge the Receipt of Messrs. Repton & Scott's Letter and to state that the Guardians do not feel called upon to proceed to Arbitration as suggested in the Matter.

29 Oct 1850

A Letter is read from Messrs. Repton & Scott requesting the Board to name some Attorney who may accept for them Service of Process in the Case of Mr. G. Soame's Proceedings against the Guardians respecting the erection of the Workhouse near to his Mill.

Resolved that the Clerk be and he is accordingly directed to make no reply to the Letter of Messrs. Repton & Scott.

12 Nov 1850

A Copy of a Writ having been this Day served upon the Chairman and Clerk to the Union as the Suit of Mr. G. Soame ....

Resolved and ordered that Mr. R.W. Parmeter Esqre. is instructed to enter an Appearance to the said Action, this Board contemplating the Appointment, at the next Meeting thereof, of a Committee to confer with Mr. Parmeter as to any further Proceedings on Behalf of this Board in the said Suit.

26 Nov 1850

The Committee appointed .... to confer with Mr. R.W. Parmeter upon the Subject of a Defence to the Suit lately instituted against the Guardians of this Union by Mr. George Soame, having met this Day, Mr. Leamon one of such Committee reported to the Board then sitting the Subject of his Conference with Mr. Parmeter with a view to ascertain his Feelings with regard to the Conduct of such Suit, when it appeared to Mr. Leamon that Mr. Parmeter, although far from desiring the Engagement yet expressed his Determination (should it be the Desire of the Board) to act on its Behalf fully to the Extent of his Power.  But the Committee taking into Consideration the peculiar Position in which they consider Mr. Parmeter to stand with regard to the alleged Plaintiff in this Suit, strongly recommends his Release from the Engagement in such Defence and suggests the Propriety of appointing some other professional Gentleman, and named Mr. G. Jay, Solicitor of Norwich, to be professionally engaged therein on Behalf of this Board in such Suit.  The further Consideration of the Subject of such Suggestion is postponed until the next Meeting of the Guardians.

3 Dec 1850

The following Notice from Mr. George Soame is read:

To the Guardians of the Poor of the Aylsham Union in the County of Norfolk.

Gentlemen,

            As Owner of the Reversionary Interest immediately expectant on the Determination of the Tenancy of Mr. William Drake Gardener of and in a certain Windmill situate in the Parish of Aylsham in the County of Norfolk in a certain Close there next adjoining a certain other Close now in your Possession and Occupation and in which said last mentioned Close the Buildings, Walls and Erections called the Aylsham Union Workhouse have been heretofore wrongfully erected and built and now wrongfully stand, I hereby give you a Notice that the same Buildings, Walls and Erections are a great Obstruction to the free Passage of the Wind to my said Windmill and are productive and will continue to produce very serious and permanent Injury to my said Estate and Interest in the said Windmill unless they are pulled down and removed.  I therefore as such Reversioner as aforesaid request that you will forthwith pull down and remove the same.

    I am,

Aylsham                                                     Gentlemen,

Decr. 3rd. 1850                                                     your obedient Servant

George Soame

10 Dec 1850

Resolved that Mr. George Jay, Solicitor of Norwich, be engaged professionally on Behalf of this Board to conduct the Defence to the said Action and that a Committee be and the same is accordingly appointed to confer with Mr. Jay thereon.

17 Dec 1850

The following Letter from Mr. Donthrn the Architect of the new Workhouse is read:

18 Hanover Street, Hanover Sq.   Decr. 14 1850

To the Chairman & Gentlemen
of the Board of Guardians of
the Aylsham Union

Gentlemen,

            You must allow me to draw your attention to my two letters to you, dated 22d. June & 15 July 1850.  Permit me to observe that as Public Men you are bound to state whether you consider my Claim fair or unfair &
If fair Pay me.
If unfair refer it -
I beg to name Mr. Sidney Smyrke of Berkley Square who has agreed to act for me & he awaits your reply.

I remain
Mr. Chairman & Gentlemen
your obedient Servant

" W.J. Donthorn "

And it appearing to this Board that the Claim made by Mr. Donthorn is as under:

 

 

£ .. s .. d

1

For Commission on 6 Instalments paid to Builders

142..10.. -

2

For Commission on Extras by Builders (amounting to £343)

17..3.. -

3

For Commission on W. Bartram fitting up Dining Hall (£71)

3..11.. -

4

For Commission on Parlour & Sons' Contract for Heating Apparatus £230

11..10.. -

 

 

174..14.. -

Resolved that an Offer be made to Mr. Donthorn for the immediate Payment to him of the Sum of £163..4.. - being the Amount of the first three Items of his Claim, the Guardians considering that he has no Claim upon them in respect of the fourth Item (the Commission upon Contract of heating Apparatus) and the Clerk is directed to communicate this Resolution to Mr. Donthorn.

24 Dec 1850

A Letter is read from Mr Donthorn the Architect of the new Workhouse agreeing to accept the Sum of £163..4..-  in Discharge of all Claims upon this Union for Commission upon the Expenditure incident to the erection of the Workhouse designed by him and lately built in Aylsham.

7 Jan 1851

The Master of the Workhouse, at the Desire of the Board, presented a Report upon the operation of the heating Apparatus during the last three Weeks.  And Messrs. Parlour & Sons having claimed of the Guardians payment of the Balance of their a/c in respect of the same £107..9..3 to which Board objects and a tender being now made to Messrs. Parlour (who are present) to pay to them the Sum of £86..14.. -  only in discharge of such Balance, the Guardians not being entirely satisfied with the Performance of the undertaking, Messrs. Parlour agree to accept the said Sum of £86..14.. -  in full Discharge of such Balance and an Order is directed to be made on the Treasurer accordingly.

Statistics

This chart shows the workhouse population during the period covered by the Minutes of meetings.  If anyone wants to look at the detailed data, here is the Excel file, with weekly figures for the period shown.

Occupancy chart

As with the Aylsham chart, there are peaks in the coldest months and troughs at harvest time.  The Oulton figures are reasonably constant because there is little in/out movement by the old and infirm inmates of the House.

Photographs & Maps

Black Boys Hotel (1) Black Boys Hotel (2)  
Aylsham Market Square and the Black Boys Inn                     
Reduced NRO drawing
  Drawing signature

A drawing of the House with an incomplete artist's name and an illegible date.  With grateful thanks to the very helpful staff of the Norfolk Record Office (item PC 237/4).  The significance of the dog sculpture is unknown.

There was a Walter J. Martins, Master Blacksmith of Aylsham (born there in 1851).

 
Front view (1)
The Workhouse in the 1920s.  In earlier times the area in the foreground was cultivated by the inmates as a task of work.
Front view (2)
A postcard from around 1910
1885 map
The site in 1885 (P = pump)
1926
Around 1930, with the water tower (added in 1928)

Recent Photographs

The workhouse still exists as part of a housing development (St. Michael's Place) which has been undertaken very sympathetically and forms part of the heritage Workhouse Walk Many thanks to Sue Riches for these photographs.

Recent photo 1 Recent Photo 2 Recent Photo 3 Recent Photo 4 Sue16 photo Sue 18 photo

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