Joseph Rowntree at East Stonehouse Workhouse, 1860

Between about 1859 and 1868, Joseph Rowntree, a Quaker from Leeds (not to be confused with his illustrious, chocolate-making namesake, Joseph Rowntree of York), conducted a vigorous one-man crusade to improve the running of workhouses and the conditions they provided for their inmates.

Towards the end of 1860, Rowntree visited East Stonehouse workhouse. His inspection of the premises appears not to have resulted in the publication of a detailed account of the institution. However, his visit was discussed at a subsequent meeting of the East Stonehouse Board of Guardians, as reported by the Western Morning News.


Some days ago a person visited Stonehouse Workhouse, and made the following entry in the house-book:—

“J. Rowntree has had an opportunity of visiting this workhouse, and has pleasure bearing his testimony to the good management and cleanliness of the whole house. The house itself is very inconvenient, and renders classification very difficult. The dietary appears ample. The use of oatmeal and cheese might be advantageous in every way. The Scriptures are well supplied, and free services given. Could not the boys be sent to school in the town?“

The foregoing having been discussed at the Board meeting, it was decided that the Guardians, considering the entry made by Mr. J. Rowntree illegal and an unwarrantable liberty, resolved that the same be cancelled, and that no visitor hereafter allowed to make any remarks in this book.—By order, William Randle, presiding chairman. Counter-signed, R. Robinson Rodd, clerk.—Board-room, 6th Dec. 1860,

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