Ancestry UK

Wem, Shropshire

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Up to 1834

A workhouse existed Wem by 1740. In 1777, it could house up to 30 inmates. In 1832, when it occupied a three-storey building at the west end of the High Street, the inmates were reported as comprising eighteen men aged from 40 to 80, and eight females aged from 30 to 50.

Former High Street workhouse, Wem,2020.
© Peter Higginbotham.

Prees had a workhouse from 1756. In 1777, it could house 60 paupers.. In 1802-3, twenty-seven paupers were relieved in the establishment, which was located at Prees Heath.

In 1819, the Ightfield churchwardens purchased a property in the parish for use as a workhouse.

After 1834

Wem Poor Law Union was formed on 16th November 1836. Its operation was overseen by an elected Board of Guardians, 16 in number, representing its 12 constituent parishes as listed below (figures in brackets indicate numbers of Guardians if more than one):

County of Salop: Broughton, Clive, Grinshill, Ightfield, Lee Brockhurst, Loppington, Moreton Corbet, Prees (3), Shawbury, Stanton-upon-Hineheath, Wem (3), Weston and Wexhill-under-Redcastle.

The population falling within the Union at the 1831 census had been 11,353 with parishes ranging in size from Lee Brockhurst (population 150) to Wem itself (3,973). The average annual poor-rate expenditure for the period 1834-36 had been £4,018 or 7s.1d. per head of the population.

In 1837, the union purchased a recently built house on what is now Love Lane, to the north of Wem. The Poor Law Commissioners authorized an expenditure of £2,800 on enlargement of the premises to provided for up 200 inmates, although the official capacity ws subsequently set at 150. The extensions, designed by Robert Graham, formed a 'U' shape, with the original house incorporated at the north-east corner. The site location and layout are shown on the 1924 map by which time the workhouse had become known as Wem Poor Law Institution:

Wem workhouse site, 1924.

Wem entrance block from the east, 2001.
© Peter Higginbotham.

Wem south-east wing from the north-east, 2001.
© Peter Higginbotham.

The former workhouse site later had a number of uses including a chicken farm. It is currently occupied by the Landona care home for the elderly.


  • 1851 — Master: Mr Rowley; Matron: Mrs Rowley
  • 1881 Census



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.

  • Shropshire Archives, Castle Gates, Shrewsbury, Shropshire SY1 2AQ. Please note that records may contain gaps or have access restrictions - please check before visiting. Holdings include: Guardians' minutes (1836-1918); Relief order books (1871-1912, with gaps); Ledgers (1837-1930); Farm and pig accounts (1904-35); etc.


  • None.


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