Polychronicon 152: Changing interpretations of the workhouse?

Teaching History feature

By Alannah Tomkins, published 4th October 2013

The workhouse has long held a negative reputation in the popular imagination as the dreaded destination of the destitute, an institution guaranteed to strike fear into the hearts of the Victorian poor. This is partly owing to its design under the New Poor Law of 1834 as an explicit punishment for poverty, but is also due to real and fictional workhouse scandals in succeeding years. The combined force of policy and of media exposés of abuse meant that the workhouse was regarded, at best, as a place of hunger and humiliation, and at worst as a site of sexual and physical assault...

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