East Grinstead, Sussex
Up to 1834
A parliamentary report of 1777 recorded parish workhouses in operation at Crawley (for up to 8 inmates), Withyham (43), and Worth (20). Although not mentioned in the 1777 survey, East Grinstead had a parish workhouse from 1747 located on London Road. In 1851, this was adjacent to the Rock Gardens, at the west end of what is now Institute Walk.
What is now Fir Tree Cottage on London Road in Crawley was shown on an 1830s tithe map as Crawley Workhouse.
A house dating from 1729 on Newchapel Road at Lingfield formerly served as its parish workhouse. The house is now known as "The Garth".
Hartfield had a parish workhouse on Church Street. The building survives as the Anchor Inn.
East Grinstead Poor Law Union was formed on 23rd September 1835. Its operation was overseen by an elected Board of Guardians, 14 in number, representing its 7 constituent parishes as listed below (figures in brackets indicate numbers of Guardians if more than one):
County of Sussex:
Crawley, East Grinstead, Hartfield, West Hoathly, Withyham, Worth.
County of Surrey: Lingfield.
Later Additions: Forest Row (from 1894).
The population falling within the Union at the 1831 census had been 11,476 with parishes ranging in size from Crawley (population 394) to East Grinstead itself (3,364). The average annual poor-rate expenditure for the period 1833-35 had been £12,053 or £1.1s.0d. per head of the population.
Initially, the new East Grinstead Board of Guardians retained four existing parish workhouses for use by the union at East Grinstead, Hartfield, Crawley, and Lingfield.
In 1859, a new workhouse accommodating 260 inmates was erected at the south side of Glen Vue Road in East Grinstead. It was designed by Frederick Peck who was also the architect of workhouses for the Medway and Hertford Unions. It was constructed by the firm of Peck and Stevens at a cost of £5,680.
The new workhouse had a T-shaped main block, with a separate entrance block at the north fronting onto Glen Vue Road, and an infirmary and infectious block to the south. The site location and layout are shown on the 1875 map below:
The workhouse buildings no longer exist and 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.
- West Sussex Record Office, County Hall, Chichester, West Sussex PO19 1RN. Holdings include Guardians' minutes (1835-1930); Births register (1880-1940); Deaths register (1880-1948); Creed register (1869-1936); Lunatics in the workhouse (1891-1928); Register of children put out as servants (1929-39); etc.
- Higginbotham, Peter Workhouses of London and the South East (2019)
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