Social Conditions

Llanfyllin Workhouse

Llanfyllin Workhouse in 1907
Llanfyllin Workhouse c1907
Powys County Archives

The workhouse in Llanfyllin was built in 1838 in response to the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834. It was known as Y Dolydd and served Llanfyllin and 25 neighbouring parishes.

On April 5th 1891, census day, there were 49 residents, or 'inmates' staying at the workhouse: 19 men, 14 women, and 16 children of 13 years and under.

Celebratory Tea at Llanfyllin Workhouse
Llanfyllin Workhouse
Powys County Archives

The above photograph shows a celebratory tea of some kind at the workhouse, and illustrates the stark contrast between the dress of the inmates and that of the staff. It also shows how men, women and children were segregated from the time they entered the workhouse - including parents and their children. A high proportion of the inmates were aged over 60 (19 inmates). One of the responsibilities of the Board of Guardians was to try to enforce maintenance payments by children for their elderly and destitute parents, failing which the parents would find themselves admitted as inmates.

John Corfield 'dumb since childhood'
Powys County Archives

2 of the adult cases were deaf and dumb, and one was described as 'dumb since childhood'. It can be seen from the Forden minutes that efforts were being made in 1891 to assist children who had been born with this disability:

"John Corfield
A report was received from the Cardiff Deaf & Dumb School stating that this boy was making very satisfactory progress and inclosing Account for maintenance and clothing. Resolved that the Account be paid and that the father of the boy be called upon to repay the cost of the clothing and the amount agreed upon between him and the Guardians."

Powys County Archives
There were also 7 inmates who were described as 'lunatics' in the census, and these people would have been housed in the 'lunatic' or sick wards at the workhouse. However, the worst cases were sent to the asylum at Bicton in Shropshire, which was a very large institution serving both Shropshire and Montgomeryshire. An entry in the accounts on 23rd July shows what large sums of money were spent on maintaining lunatics at these institutions:

Forden minutes contain a report by the visiting committee concerning lunacy cases who were deemed fit to be housed in the workhouse rather than be sent to an asylum.

Forden minutes
Powys County Archives

"The report stated that the Commissioner found that all the inmates were fit cases for workhouse care, that they were usefully employed, adequately dieted, and generally well cared for. Attention was however recommended to the following matters.
(1) That in future for the permanent detention of every fresh case an order by a justice supported by two medical certificates will be necessary as directed by Sec 24 of the Lunacy Act 1890.
(2) That more frequent bathing of these inmates is desirable and that they should have a bath once a fortnight each in clean water
(3) That there is in the Workhouse a great want of a housemaid's closet with hot and cold water laid on over a sink where utensils can be washed, and that a fireguard is wanted in the young men's ground floor day room for the protection

Resolved that the Master's attention be drawn to the report"

Click here to learn more about Llanfyllin workhouse.

Llanfyllin Board of Guardians
Morrallee Family