A parliamentary report of 1777 recorded a parish workhouse in operation at Whitchurch for up to 120 inmates. In another report in 1803, Overton was relieving 38 persons in a workhouse.
Whitchurch Poor Law Union was formed on 4th June 1835. Its operation was overseen by an elected Board of Guardians, 10 in number, representing its 7 constituent parishes as listed below (figures in brackets indicate numbers of Guardians if more than one):
Ashe, Freefolk Manor, Hurstbourne Priors, Overton (2), St Mary Bourne (2), Tufton, Whitchurch (2).
Later Additions: Laverstoke.
The population falling within the union at the 1831 census had been 5,175 with parishes ranging in size from Freefolk Manor (population 73) to Whitchurch itself (1,637). The average annual poor-rate expenditure for the period 1832-35 had been £4,396 or 17s.0d. per head of the population.
Initially, the new Whitchurch Union made use of an existing parish workhouse at Overton. In 1847-8, a new union workhouse was erected in Whitchurch. The building was designed by SO Foden who was the architect of a number of other workhouses including the one at Hungerford. The workhouse layout is shown on the 1910 map below.
The main building had a T-shaped layout with males and females accommodation placed at each side of the central entrance. The central rear wing probably contained the workhouse dining-hall and kitchen.
After 1930, the workhouse was redesignated as a Public Assistance Institution. The building, which became known as the Gables, was converted into private housing in 1979.
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.
- Hampshire Record Office, Sussex Street, Winchester SO23 8TH. Very few records survive — holdings include Guardians' minute books (1835-1930).
- Higginbotham, Peter The Workhouse Encyclopedia (2014, The History Press)
Unless otherwise indicated, this page () is copyright Peter Higginbotham. Contents may not be reproduced without permission.