The latest booklet in the Crediton History Series provides the historic background to looking after the poor and describes the provision of almshouses in Crediton in the 1500s. The emphasis was on putting the able-boded poor to work and those unable to work were permitted to beg in the parish of their birth. In the late 1600s Acts of Parliament were passed establishing ‘Corporations of the Poor’ in 14 towns in England and Crediton was amongst these. Whilst there are references to an earlier workhouse in Crediton, the first permanent building began in 1698 to the north of the parish church.
John goes on to report legislation in 1834 which set up a network of Union Workhouses around the country, including one centred on Crediton. By 1838 the new Union Workhouse was established west of the town, later to become the nurses’ home and now, a listed building divided into flats. Included in the booklet are a number of interesting and revealing stories about life in the Crediton Workhouse.
At the beginning of the booklet John pays tribute to the late Babs Stutchbury, a former Chairman of the History Society and an enthusiastic local historian.
Mr Heal says that the content covering the period up to 1800 is based almost entirely on papers left to the Society by Ms Stutchbury.