Hailsham, Sussex

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Up to 1834

A parliamentary report of 1777 listed parish workhouses operating at Hailsham (with accommodation for up to 40 inmates), Chiddingly (25), Herstmonceux (45), Heathfield (40), Hooe (30), Ninfield (15), Warbleton (60) and Wartling (40). Parish workhouses also existed at Hellingly and Laughton.

Chiddingly's workhouse was at Nash Street, Golden Cross. It is now a private house.

Hooe's workhouse was at the north-east of Hooe Common. The site is shown on the 1873 map below.

Hooe parish workhouse site, 1873.

Hooe former parish workhouse, c.1910.
© Peter Higginbotham.

The Warbleton parish workhouse, located in the centre of the village, later became a school.

Warbleton former parish workhouse, 2004.
© Peter Higginbotham.

Laughton's parish workhouse, now converted to three cottages, was situated on Church Road.

Laughton former parish workhouse, 2004.
© Peter Higginbotham.

After 1834

Hailsham Poor Law Union was formed on 10th April 1835. Its operation was overseen by an elected Board of Guardians, 16 in number, representing its 11 constituent parishes as listed below (figures in brackets indicate numbers of Guardians if more than one):

County of Sussex: Arlington, Chiddingly, Hailsham (2), Heathfield (2), Hellingley [Hellingly] (2), Herstmonceux (2), Hooe, Laughton, Ninfield, Warbleton (2), Wartling.
Later Additions: Chalvington (from 1898), Ripe (from 1898).

The population falling within the Union at the 1831 census had been 11,825 with parishes ranging in size from Hooe (population 525) to Heathfield (1,801) and Hailsham itself (1,445). The average annual poor-rate expenditure for the period 1831-34 had been £18,351 or £1.11s.0d. per head of the population.

A new Hailsham Union workhouse was built in 1835-6 at Upper Horsebridge at the west side of what became Union Road (now Hawks Road). The architect is unknown but the building appears to be based on Sampson Kempthorne's model "200-pauper" plan published by the Poor Law Commissioners in 1836. This design employed a cruciform layout, but without a octagonal "supervisory" hub. The Commissioners authorised an expenditure of £3,960 on construction of the building which was to accommodate 250 inmates. The infirmary at the west of the site was enlarged in 1870, and a new board-room was erected at the opposite side of Union Road in 1878. The site location and layout are shown on the 1908 map below:

Hailsham workhouse site, 1908

Hailsham workhouse from the south, c.1908.
© Peter Higginbotham.

After 1930, the workhouse briefly operated as a Public Assistance Institution but was closed in 1932 and subsequently demolished. Housing now occupies the site.




Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals. Before travelling a long distance, always check that the records you want to consult will be available.

  • East Sussex Record Office, The Keep, Woollards Way, Brighton, BN1 9BP. Holdings include Guardians' minutes (1836-1930); Births register (1836-1930); Deaths register (1836-1930); Admissions and discharges (1835-1930); etc.



  • None.

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