A parliamentary report of 1777 recorded a workhouse in operation in Barlythorpe to accommodate up to 8 paupers.
In Empingham, a large building in Main Street now known as The Wilderness was the parish workhouse from 1794 to 1836.
The Empingham workhouse was the subject of a report in by Eden, in his 1797 survey of the poor:
A house at 9 Top Street in Exton was used as a parish workhouse up until 1836.
Oakham Poor Law Union officially came into existence on 29th April 1836. Its operation was overseen by an elected Board of Guardians, 31 in number, representing its 30 constituent parishes as listed below:
County of Rutland:
Ashwell, Barrow, Braunston, Brooke, Burley, Cottesmore, Edith Weston, Egleton, Empingham, Exton,
Greetham, Gunthorpe, Hambelton, Horn, Langham, Lyndon, Manton, Market Overton, Martinsthorpe,
Oakham Lordshold (2), Oakham Deanshold with Barleythorpe, Oakham Lordship, Stretton, Teigh, Thistleton, Tickencote, Whissendine, Whitwell.
County of Leicester: Cold Overton, Knossington.
Later Additions: Leighfield (from 1861).
The population falling within the Union at the 1831 census had been 10,336 with parishes ranging in size from Martinsthorpe (population 2) to Oakham Lordship (1,558). The average annual poor-rate expenditure for the period 1833-5 had been £4,333 or 8s.5d. per head of the population.
Oakham Union workhouse was built in 1836-7 at a site to the north-east of the town. The architect was William J Donthorn who was responsible for the design of many workhouses in the east of England including those at nearby Uppingham, and at Ely and Wisbech in Cambridgeshire. The Poor Law Commissioners authorised an expenditure of £3,730 on construction of the building which was intended to accommodate 167 inmates. The site location and layout are shown on the 1902 OS map:
The workhouse later operated as Catmose Vale Hospital. The surviving buildings are now occupied by Oakham School.
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.
- The Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland, Long Street, Wigston Magna, Leicester, LE18 2AH. Only surviving local records appear to be Guardians' minutes (1836-1930).
- Clough, T H McK The Documentation of the Oakham Workhouse clock, Rutland Record 2 (1982), 82f.
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