Life in Shaftesbury and Tisbury Workhouses

A new exhibition for 2016 created by Librarian and Archivist Ray Simpson tells the story of two local workhouses. In 1834 Parliament was keen to cut the welfare bill and the Poor Law Amendment Act abolished the practice of giving outdoor relief to the able-bodied poor. Recipients of welfare now had to enter the workhouse, where conditions were made deliberately unpleasant to discourage claimants. Ray’s fascinating exhibition couples extracts from letters and documents detailing the foundation of the new workhouses in Shaftesbury and Tisbury with episodes in the lives of unfortunate inmates: Martha Street and Eliza Tucker, jailed in 1869 for “fighting, quarrelling and making use of most obscene and profane language”; the Tisbury vagrant punished in 1907 for refusing to break stones for fear of losing his one good eye. This display is outside the Museum Library on the first floor and will run until October.