A local Act of 1764 established the Samford Hundred Incorporation of 28 parishes. Two years later the Incorporation erected a House of Industry at Tattingstone at a cost of £8,250, including a 'pesthouse' costing £416.3s.11d where infectious cases were isolated. The main workhouse building was a U-shaped red brick structure of two storeys with attics and could accommodate 300.
The inmates were employed in manufacturing wool into yarn, and in cultivating the farm of 37 acres of which 25 were arable. In 1774, the income from the pauper's labour mounted to £322.6s.5d.
The workhouse officers comprised a governor (£40 per annum), clerk (£10), treasurer (5 guineas), chaplain (£35), surgeon for attending the house and the outpoor of 15 parishes (67), surgeon for attending the outpoor of 15 parishes (£52.10s), schoolmaster (£13), baker (£15.12s). In addition a shoemaker was constantly employed at 8s. per week, a tailor at 6s., and a mantua-maker occasionally, all with their board. Persons were also hired to card the wool. A gratuity of 2 guineas a year was made to one of the poor women who performed the office of nurse, and the same to one of the men who shaved the poor. £84 per year was 'accounted for from the produce of the farm, and on account of bastard children.'
After 1834, Samford's local Act status exempted it from many of the provisions of the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act. The Incorporation continued in existence until 7th February 1849 when it converted to become a Poor Law Union under the terms of the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act. The union's 28 member parishes (and numbers of Guardians if more than one) were: Arwarton, Belstead, Bentley, East Bergholt (3), Brantham, Burstall, Capel St. Mary, Chattisham, Chelmondiston, Copdock, Erwarton, Freston, Harkstead, Higham, Hintlesham (2), Holbrook (2), Holton St. Mary, Raydon, Shelly (2), Shotley, Sproughton, Stratford St. Mary (2), Stutton (2), Tattingstone, Washbrook, Great Wenham, Little Wenham, Wherstead, Woolverstone.
The population falling within the union at the 1841 census had been 11,747 with parishes ranging in size from Little Wenham (population 37) to East Bergholt (1,461). The average annual poor-rate expenditure for the period 1834-36 had been £2,601 or 4s.5d. per head of the population.
In around 1837, the workhouse was remodelled and new ranges added at the north of the main building. The workhouse location and layout are shown on the 1924 map below by which it had become known as Samford Poor Law Institution.
In the latter part of the nineteenth century, a chapel was added at the south side of the north range.
In 1905, a water tower was added above a block at the north of the site.
After 1930, the workhouse site became St Mary's Hospital and provided care for the chronic sick. It later became an active rehabilitation hospital for older people and pioneered new concepts in care for the elderly. It finally closed in 1991 and ten years later the site was redeveloped for residential use.
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.
- Suffolk Archives, The Hold, 131 Fore Street, Ipswich, Suffolk IP4 1LR. Extensive holdings include: Minute books (1764-1930); Births (1848-1946); Baptisms (1813-1943); Deaths (1848-1946); Burials (1899-1930); Register of married couples (1914-39); Register of lunatics (1889-1918); Register of mechanical restraint (1892-1916); Creed registers (1893-1945); Register of persons receiving infants for reward (1909-29); Admissions and discharges (1915-45); Ledgers (1794-1930); Master's journals (1913-31); etc.
- Abstract of the Returns from the Governors, Directors etc. of the Several Houses of Industry, and Workhouses, Specially Established for the Relief and Employment of the Poor (1776).
- Hardy, Sheila (2001) The House on the Hill - The Samford House of Industry (1764-1930). (Researched from the Tattingstone workhouse minute books etc. ISBN 0-9533506-1-4. Available from Sheila Hardy, 8 The Close, Tattingstone, Ipswich IP9 2PD. £10 incl p&p).
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