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a tale of Restoration intrigue by

Molly Brown

The London Workhouse

The London workhouse housed about 40 youths, between the ages of 7 and 16, fetched from the parish of St. Giles. All persons not within those ages were turned away with the explanation that the workhouse was not a nursery, nor was it a hospital.

The workhouse did become a hospital during the Plague, however, when it was used to accomodate about 150 diseased persons. The Governors made a deal with a doctor, in which they agreed to pay him 20s for each person he managed to save, but nothing for those who died. On this contractual basis, 56 of the doctor's patients recovered.

In 1669, it was rumoured that one of the workhouse officials had embezzled funds and gone to the Indies. There were also allegations that the Governors were taking in people from the highways and keeping them prisoners, that the sick house had been converted into an ale house, and that the poor were maintained not by the Governors, but by the private charity of London merchants.

academy st giles covent garden holborn start of tour home

(c) 1996 Molly Brown