The Workhouse

In 1738 the trustees of Middleton’s charity bought the old Bull Inn from Jane Stanbridge which was then rented and made use of by the Churchwardens and overseers as a workhouse for the Poor. The idle poor were set to work and the unemployed was discouraged from moving about to seek work. The parish of their settlement had a duty to maintain them. At the Lewes Sessions in 1715 the settlement of Thomas Mitchell, pauper, was fixed at Cuckfield. The old poor laws treated the paupers almost as criminals to encourage independence. Extracts from the Sussex Weekly Advertiser show:

Jan19, 1789. John Morris for running away and leaving his family chargeable to the Parish of Cuckfield was adjudged a rogue and vagabond: recommitted for one week and ordered to be privately whipped.

April 16,1790. Abraham C was sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing 1 bushel of wheat in the chaff, from the barn of John Coppard of Cuckfield. He was 22 years old, of previously good character, had a wife and one child and another daily expected.

A new Poor Law was enacted in 1834 and Guardians were created to administer it. Under this law all who were in need were obliged to reside in parish workhouses. Local poverty and unemployment, made worse by changes in farming practices, meant there was overcrowding in the workhouses. The churchwardens and overseers gave up the old parish workhouse on 29 September 1845. Later uses for the old workhouse were as a county court and as headquarters of the Volunteers.

Cuckfield was a union town responsible by law for providing a workhouse in the area. This was known as the Cuckfield Union and included an infirmary. Places within the union were Albourne, Ardingly, Balcombe, Bolney, Clayton, Cuckfield Urban and Cuckfield Rural, Haywards Heath, Horsted Keynes, Hurstpierpoint, Keymer, Lindfield, Newtimber, Pyecombe, Slaugham and Twineham. They had a combined population of 23,326 in 1891.

The new Union Workhouse was opened in September 1845 in Ardingly Road on the northern outskirts of Cuckfield. It cost ?7,500. It comprised the main building, which was designed to accommodate 450, an infirmary and a chapel. The able bodied poor of the workhouse were expected to help earn their keep by working at a nearby cornmill or by breaking up stones for the roads from a quarry at nearby Whitemans Green. Staffing originally consisted of the master, nurse and salaried chaplain. All vagrants admitted overnight were required, willing or unwilling, to have the obligatory bathe in the bath houses behind the porter’s lodge before being given a meal and bed for the night. The next morning they were required to undertake some task in or around the house to pay for their bed and breakfast. Many were then leaving to look for another workhouse for the next night. Resident paupers over the age of seventy were excused manual work and were allowed out of the workhouse between 8 til 11 in the morning and 2 til 4 in the afternoon. It was quite common in the 1880s for there to be two or three hundred in the “casual” wards and 40 to 50 requiring admission overnight.In 1891 there were 186 inmates and officers at the Workhouse.

It became the Cuckfield Poor Law Institution at the end of the first world war and then in 1930 became the West Hylands Institution as it was built on the western part of the Highlands Estate. The main work of the Institution was the care of acute and chronic sick, the elderly ambulant infirm, mentally subnormal and “casuals”.

At the outbreak of the Second World War the Cuckfield Union Infirmary became an Emergency Medical Service Hospital and in 1942 the Canadians established a Military Hospital there.

During the 1990s the Old Union Workhouse was converted to apartments and the old nissan huts demolished to make way for housing.

The following are recorded as being at the Union Workhouse at the time of the 1881 Census.


  Occ Married Age Sex Birthplace
Thomas Thorston RICHES Master of Workhouse M 34 M Sheffield, York, England
Edith Jane RICHES Matron of Workhouse M 33 F Burnage, Cheshire, England
Frank Maplestone RICHES None   4 M Cuckfield, Sussex, England
Thomas Thorston RICHES None   1 M Cuckfield, Sussex, England
Phillis Mary RICHES None   5m F Cuckfield, Sussex, England
Frank Maplestone RICHES Assistant Workhouse Master U 23 M Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, England
Kate JUSTEN Workhouse School Mistress U 28 F Merton, Surrey, England
Thomas HOPPER Workhouse Porter U 28 M Lewes, Sussex, England
Paul MEASON Workhouse Tailor & Industrial Trainer M 359 M Brighton, Sussex, England
Caroline TAYLOR Infants Nurse M 55 F Chelsea, Middlesex, England
Joseph KING Gardener M 36 F Bolney, Sussex, England
Ann KING Superintendent of Vagrants M 36 F Slaugham, Sussex, England
Annie DANCEY Scholar U 14 F Cuckfield, Sussex, England
Charlotte BRICKNELL Infant Nurse U 29 F Turnpike, Surrey, England
Mary Ann COPE Infirmary Nurse U 45 F New Radford, Nottingham, England
Agnes BOONE Infirmary Serv M 42 F Horsham, Sussex, England


The following are recorded as inmates at the Union Workhouse at the time of the 1881 Census.



  Occ Married Age Sex Birthplace
Jane JONES Laundress (Pauper) W 74 F (B S), Gibralter
Louisa TULLET None(Pauper) U 18 F Cuckfield, Sussex, England
Thomas STRINGER Ag Lab(Pauper) W 79 M Cuckfield, Sussex, England
Ellen BARNETT Field Work (Pauper) M 39 F Cuckfield, Sussex, England
Amon CONSTABLE Scholar U 16 M Cuckfield, Sussex, England
Herbert CONSTABLE scholar U 14 M Cuckfield, Sussex, England
Robert CONSTABLE scholar U 11 M Cuckfield, Sussex, England
Mary HIGHLAND Cook Domestic Servant W 74 F Framfield, Sussex, England
Charles MARCHANT scholar U 10 M Balcombe, Sussex, England
Jesse MARCHANT scholar U 7 M Balcombe, Sussex, England
Louisa NEWNHAM scholar U 5 F Cuckfield, Sussex, England
Henry AUSTEN Carpenter U 34 M Yapton, Sussex, England
Frederick BAILEY scholar U 10 M Cuckfield, Sussex, England
Caroline HAYNES none U 20 F Haywards Heath, Sussex, England
Annie THOMAS scholar U 15 F Cuckfield, Sussex, England
William ANSCOMBE scavenger W 68 M Cuckfield, Sussex, England
Henry GODSMARK scholar U 13 M Cuckfield, Sussex, England
Frank GODSMARK scholar U 10 M Cuckfield, Sussex, England
Mark JOYES Ag Lab U 56 M Cuckfield, Sussex, England
Rebecca FULLER Laundress W 81 F Cuckfield, Sussex, England
Joseph MANSBRIDGE scholar U 11 M Cuckfield, Sussex, England
Stephen MANSBRIDGE scholar U 9 M Liverpool, Lancashire, England
Jesse MANSBRIDGE scholar U 7 M Liverpool, Lancashire, England
Philip MANSBRIDGE scholar U 5 M London, Middledsex, England
Eliza TURNER laundress W 37 F Brighton, Sussex, England
Frederick TURNER Scholar U 4 M Brighton, Sussex, England
James FREEMAN Blacksmith U 41 M Horsham, Sussex, England
Susan SHORT laundress W 73 F Cuckfield, Sussex, England
Thomas MITCHELL scholar U 12 M Cuckfield, Sussex, England
Fanny MITCHELL scholar U 10 F Cuckfield, Sussex, England
Francis BOWDLER navvy U 68 M Leicester, Leicester, England
William STREETER Ag Lab W 77 M Cuckfield, Sussex, England
Stephen GATFORD Ag Lab U 46 M Cuckfield, Sussex, England
Richard BURTENSHAW Ag Lab W 67 M Cuckfield, Sussex, England
Mary MANSBRIDGE Gen Serv Dom Serv M 30 F Eybridge, Lincoln, England
Thomas PICKNELL none U 17 M Brighton, Sussex, England
George ELSEY Ag Lab U 75 M Lindfield, Sussex, England
William BEARD Ag Lab W 62 M Linfield, Sussex, England
Peter MARCHANT Ag Lab W 74 M Linfield, Sussex, England
George BOTTING Ag Lab W 63 M Linfield, Sussex, England
John PENFOLD Ag Lab U 54 M Linfield, Sussex, England
Charles Pierce Ag Lab W 70 M Cowfield, Sussex, England
George HAYNES Ag Lab W 76 M Lindfield, Sussex, England
William EASTMOND Marble Mason U 36 M Jersey, Channel Islands
Owen TESTER scholar U 13 M Horsted Keynes, Sussex, England
John PIERCE Ag Lab W 78 M Horsted Keynes, Sussex, England
Joseph STEDMAN Ag Lab W 41 M Horsted Keynes, Sussex, England
Abraham BAKER Ag Lab W 81 M Horsted Keynes, Sussex, England
Thomas WOOLGAR Ag Lab W 84 M Horsted Keynes, Sussex, England
Abraham WOOLGAR Ag Lab U 77 M Horsted Keynes, Sussex, England
Edmond WOOLGAR Ag Lab U 31 M Horsted Keynes, Sussex, England
John WALLER Ag Lab W 85 M Horsted Keynes, Sussex, England
William MAY scholar U 9 M Horsted Keynes, Sussex, England
Edward THOMPSON Navvy U 52 M Munby Cum Shappel, Lincoln, England
Alexander SHERLOCK Ag Lab U 75 M Horsted Keynes, Sussex, England
Thomas BROWN Navvy U 60 M Mount Sorrel, Leicester, England
Clara NEWNHAM Gen Serv Dom U 17 F Ardingly, Sussex, England
William CRONK Ag Lab U 46 M Ardingly, Sussex, England
Richard TESTER Ag Lab U 76 M Balcombe, Sussex, England
Florence BOTTING scholar U 13 F Balcombe, Sussex, England
William GAMMON Shoemaker W 81 M Balcombe, Sussex, England
Frances GAMMON none U 49 F Balcombe, Sussex, England
Amelia STEDMAN Gen Serv Dom U 27 F Balcombe, Sussex, England
Alfred STEDMAN scholar U 6 M Balcombe, Sussex, England
Caroline STEDMAN scholar U 3 F Balcombe, Sussex, England
Grace STEDMAN none U 1 F Balcombe, Sussex, England
John WOOD Ag Lab U 62 M Balcombe, Sussex, England
Eliza BREDEN Laundress W 47 F Cuckfield, Sussex, England
William BREDEN scholar U 15 M Balcombe, Sussex, England
Charles BREDEN scholar U 13 M Balcombe, Sussex, England
Thomas BREDEN scholar U 11 M Red Hill, Surrey, England
Emeny BREDEN scholar U 8 M Red Hill, Sussex, England
Robert BREDEN scholar U 5 M Cuckfield, Sussex, England
James BREDEN none U 1 M Cuckfield, Sussex, England
William HILL Carpenter W 77 M Slaugham, Sussex, England
William WENHAM Ag Lab W 75 M Slaugham, Sussex, England
William SRATCHELL Ag Lab W 67 M Slaugham, Sussex, England
Matthew MITCHELL Ag Lab W 69 M Slaugham, Sussex, England
William HEASMAN Ag Lab W 91 M Slaugham, Sussex, England
Sarah BAILEY Laundress W 75 F Slaugham, Sussex, England
Thomas JAPP Ag Lab W 75 M Slaugham, Sussex, England
Peter TUNEL Ag Lab W 77 M Slaugham, Sussex, England
Jane COLLINS Hawker M 37 F Slaugham, Sussex, England
Sarah COLLINS scholar U 6 F Slaugham, Sussex, England
Alice COLLINS scholar U 8 F Slaugham, Sussex, England
Henry COLLINS scholar U 13 M Slaugham, Sussex, England
Mary LEWRY Cook Dom Serv W 84 F Slaugham, Sussex, England
Henry HUNTLEY Shoemaker W 70 M Cuckfield, Sussex, England
Ann STEER none W 55 F Slaugham, Sussex, England
John BOTTING none U 55 M Hurstpierpoint, Sussex, England
Ann BOTTING none U 54 F Hurstpierpoint, Sussex, England
William JOHNSON scholar U 14 M Hurstpierpoint, Sussex, England
John BURTENSHAW scholar U 14 M Hurstpierpoint, Sussex, England
Charles BURTENSHAW scholar U 12 M Hurstpierpoint, Sussex, England
James BURTENSHAW scholar U 9 M Cuckfield, Sussex, England
Caroline KING none U 43 F Barnsley, York, England
Richard RICHARDSON Ag Lab M 70 M Hurstpierpoint, Sussex, England
Rebecca RICHARDSON none M 70 F Hurstpierpoint, Sussex, England
Sarah HENLEY laundress U 28 F Hurstpierpoint, Sussex, England
Alice HENLEY none U 1 F Cuckfield, Sussex, England
Henry BATCHELOR Ostler U 33 M Hurstpierpoint, Sussex, England
Prudence SHERLOCK Gen Serv Dom U 37 F Clayton, Sussex, England
Thomas HILLS Ag Lab M 71 M Hurstpierpoint, Sussex, England
William MARCHANT Stone Mason U 48 M Hurstpierpoint, Sussex, England
James GOODCHILD scholar U 16 M Horsham, Sussex, England
John LEWRY Ag Lab M 39 M Hurstpierpoint, Sussex, England
Alice LEWRY none M 29 F Liverpool, Lancashire,England
John LEWRY scholar U 10 M Liverpool, Lancashire, England
James LEWRY scholar U 8 M Liverpool, Lancashire, England
Stephen LEWRY scholar U 6 M Liverpool, Lancashire, England
William LEWRY none U 2 M Liverpool, Lancashire, England
Rose LEWRY Laundress U 19 F Hurstpierpoint, Sussex, England
Ann HOBDEN none U 51 F Cuckfield, Sussex, England
Sarah LINDFIELD Gen Serv Dom U 19 F Keymer, Sussex, England
Mary LINDFIELD scholar U 15 F Keymer, Sussex, England
George BEECHING scholar U 10 M Keymer, Sussex, England
Sidney WARD scholar U 10 M Keymer, Sussex, England
Mary WOOD laundress W 75 F Keymer, Sussex, England
Ann GIBSON schoOlmistress w 84 F Keymer, Sussex, England
Louisa BROOKER scholar U 16 F Keymer, Sussex, England
George ORAM Ag lab W 78 M Keymer, Sussex, England
William ANSDELL Musician W 85 M London, Middlesex, England
Amy TREMAINE Gen Serv Dom W 72 W Allerden, Kent, England
Eliza PARSONS Gen Serv Dom W 40 F London Middlesex, England
John PARSONS scholar U M Cuckfield, Sussex, England
Robert PARSONS none U 2 M Cuckfield, Sussex, England
Peter ORAM Ag lab W 72 M Keymer, Sussex, England
Florence BEALE Scholar U 12 W Cuckfield, Sussex, England
John MILLER Ag lab U 68 M Keymer, Sussex, England
James HOLE Blacksmith U 75 M Keymer, Sussex, England
Ruth SMITHERS Scholar U 13 F Clayton, Sussex, England
James SMITHERS Scholar U 12 M Cuckfield, Sussex, England
Elizabeth KNAPP Laundress M 32 F Hurstpierpoint, Sussex, England
James KNAPP Scholar U 10 M Hurstpierpoint, Sussex, England
Harry KNAPP Scholar M 7 M Hurstpierpoint, Sussex, England
Rose KNAPP Scholar U 5 F Cuckfield, Sussex, England
Frederick KNAPP None M 1 M Cuckfield, Sussex, England
William BURT Ag Lab W 76 M Clayton, Sussex, England
James ORAM Ag Lab W 61 M Clayton, Sussex, England
Mary WICKHAM None U 42 F Clayton, Sussex, England
David WHITE Ag Lab U 71 M Clayton, Sussex, England
Henry BRICKNELL Ag Lab W 70 M Petersfield, Hampshire, England
Emily BRICKNELL Scholar U 12 F Petersfield, Hampshire, England
Charles NORTH Brickmaker U 43 M Clayton, Sussex, England
George KING Ag Lab U 47 M Hurstpeirpoint, Sussex, England
Esther MOORE None U 49 F Cowfold, England
Florence KNIGHT None U 17 F London, Middlesex, England
Louisa TURNER None W 25 F Exmouth, Devon, England
George TURNER Scholar U 8 M Bristol, Gloucester, England
Charles TURNER Scholar U 4 M West Hallam, Derby, England
William TURNER Scholar U 3 M Kettering, Northampton, England
David DAVEY Ag Lab M 53 M Cuckfield, Sussex, England
Joseph GILLAM Carpenter U 58 M Cowfold, Sussex, England
Sarah BATCHELOR None U 39 F Bolney, Sussex, England
George BATCHELOR None U 2 M Cuckfield, Sussex, England
Alfred SCUTT Ag Lab M 21 M Bolney, Sussex, England
George WOOD Ag Lab M 55 M Twineham, Sussex, England
Elizabeth WOOD Scholar M 33 F Twineham, Sussex, England
John WOOD None U 12 F Twineham, Sussex, England
Elizabeth WOOD Scholar U 10 F Twineham, Sussex, England
William WOOD Scholar U 5 M Cuckfield, Sussex, England
Henry WOOD Scholar U 3 F Cuckfield, Sussex, England
Amelia WOOD Scholar U 8 F Twineham, Sussex, England
Stephen VIRGO Ag Lab U 69 M Twineham, Sussex, England
Ellen TULLEY None U 27 F Bolney, Sussex, England
Frederick LEWRY None U 1m M cuckfield, Sussex, England
Harry ANSCOMBE Ag Lab U 28 M Cowfold, Sussex, England
Thomas MITCHELL Ag Lab U 74 M Balcombe, Sussex, England
Richard NEWMAN Ag Lab U 62 M Cowfold, Sussex, England
Peter STARLEY Shoemaker U 56 M Bolney, Sussex, England
Henry PACKHAM Ag Lab W 76 M Cuckfield, Sussex, England
Henry HENTY Ag Lab W 79 M Hurstpierpoint, Sussex, England
George BOWRING Ag Lab U 47 M Liverpool, Lancashire, England
John SOLLEY Ag Lab M 51 M Ramsgate, Kent, England
James ROBERT Bricklayers Labourer U 48 M Glasgow, Scotland
Albert THORPE Bricklayers Labourer U 39 M Greenwich, Kent, England
John KEEFE Carpenter U 56 M Lambeth, Surrey, England
George SYKES . U 30 M London, Middlesex, England
John WILSON Bricklayers Laborer U 32 M Lambeth, Surrey, England
Timothy MC CARTHY Bricklayers Laborer U 49 M Ireland
George ATKINS Bricklayers Laborer U 46 M Walworth, Surrey, England
John SMITH Tanner M 41 M Gt Coggeshall, Essex, England
Mary SMITH Laundress M 40 F Dublin, Ireland
William SMITH Bricklayers Laborer U 48 M London, Middlesex, England
Thomas WRIGHT Bricklayer U 40 M Dublin, Ireland
Thomas ANDERSON Ag Lab M 44 M London, Middlesex, England
Mary ANDERSON Laundress M 40 F London, Middlesex, England
John CARTER Ag Lab M 43 M Dover, Kent, England
Elizabeth CARTER Laundress M 41 F Brighton, Sussex, England
Stephen HAWKINS Painter U 60 M South Molton, Devon, England
Edward JOHNSON Painter U 44 M Calcutta, East Indies
George BULL Dock Laborer U 45 M Dartford, Kent, England
John GILL Dock Laborer U 24 M London, Middlesex, England
Louisa REECE Laundress M 40 F London, Middlesex, England
Alexander REECE Scholar U 7 M London, Middlesex, England
John MC CARTHY Dock Laborer U 59 M Cork, Ireland


For more information about workhouses click here or here.



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