Although many deterrent workhouses developed in the period after the New Poor Law, some had already been built under the existing system. This workhouse in Nantwich, Cheshire, dates from 1780.
The Poor Laws in the aftermath of the Black Death (pictured), when labour was in short supply, were concerned with making the able-bodied work. (also see: Sturdy beggar)
The Old Poor Law or Elizabethan Poor Law is sometimes referred to as the "43rd Elizabeth" as it was passed in the 43rd year that Elizabeth I (pictured) reigned as Queen.
Advertisement for builders to build a new Workhouse in north Wales, 1829
Nassau William Senior argued for greater centralization of the Poor Law system.
Infighting between Edwin Chadwick and other Poor Law Commissioners was one reason for an overhaul of Poor Law administration.
David Lloyd George, architect of the Liberal welfare reforms which were implemented outside of the Poor Law system and paved the way for the eventual abolition of the Poor Law.
Punch criticized the New Poor Law's workhouses for splitting mothers and their infant children.

Prior to the Poor Law Amendment Act 1834 the administration of the English Poor Laws was the responsibility of the vestries of individual parishes, which varied widely in their size, populations, financial resources, rateable values and requirements.

- Poor law union

The New Poor Law altered the system from one which was administered haphazardly at a local parish level to a highly centralised system which encouraged the large-scale development of workhouses by poor law unions.

- English Poor Laws
Although many deterrent workhouses developed in the period after the New Poor Law, some had already been built under the existing system. This workhouse in Nantwich, Cheshire, dates from 1780.

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Former workhouse in Nantwich, dating from 1780

Workhouse

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Institution where those unable to support themselves financially were offered accommodation and employment.

Institution where those unable to support themselves financially were offered accommodation and employment.

Former workhouse in Nantwich, dating from 1780
The 'Red House' at Framlingham Castle in Suffolk was founded as a workhouse in 1664.
"The workroom at St James's workhouse", from The Microcosm of London (1808)
Former Cleveland Street workhouse, London W1, photographed in 1930. It later became part of the Middlesex Hospital.
Contrasted Residences for the Poor (1836), by Augustus Pugin. He was critical of Kempthorne's octagonal design shown above.
The Carlisle Union Workhouse, opened in 1864, later part of the University of Cumbria
St Mary Abbots workhouse, Kensington, London
Dinnertime at St Pancras Workhouse, London, 1911
A group of children at Crumpsall Workhouse, 1895–97
Ripon Union Workhouse, completed in 1855, replaced an earlier Georgian era workhouse. It now houses a museum.
Thomas Allom's design for St Mary Abbots workhouse in Kensington, London, is noticeably different from those produced by Sampson Kempthorne a decade earlier.
Watling Street Road Workhouse, Preston, built in 1865–1868
Eventide: A Scene in the Westminster Union (workhouse), 1878, by Sir Hubert von Herkomer

So keen were some Poor Law authorities to cut costs wherever possible that cases were reported of husbands being forced to sell their wives, to avoid them becoming a financial burden on the parish.

Individual parishes were grouped into Poor Law Unions, each of which was to have a union workhouse.

Out-door relief: Poor people coming to a workhouse for food, c. 1840

Poor Law Amendment Act 1834

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Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom passed by the Whig government of Earl Grey.

Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom passed by the Whig government of Earl Grey.

Out-door relief: Poor people coming to a workhouse for food, c. 1840
A "Poor Law Bastille": 1835 model design of a workhouse to hold 300 paupers...
... 'classified' (men, women, girls, boys) and segregated accordingly
One of the "Somerset House Despots": Sir Thomas Frankland Lewis, Chairman of Poor Law Commission 1834–39

It completely replaced earlier legislation based on the Poor Law of 1601 and attempted to fundamentally change the poverty relief system in England and Wales (similar changes were made to the poor law for Scotland in 1845).

The Commission's powers allowed it to specify policies for each Poor Law Union, and policy did not have to be uniform.