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The Workhouse &c Dptford

The Workhouse &c Dptford

Artist: Matthews, C.

Medium: Pen and ink on paper

Date: 1840

Shelfmark: Add. MS 16945 f.47

Length: 11.4

Width: 16.9

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Drawing

This picture illustrates one of the large workhouses built to house the local poor in Deptford and Lewisham.

These buildings were commissioned following the Poor law ammendments of 1834, which stated that "no able bodied person was to receive money or other help from Poor Law Authorities except in a workhouse". Despite the workhouse being considered a harsh environment, one observer of Greenwich's poor was to note: "It is curious to notice the effect that the workhouse regime has in prolonging the lives of those who may have often survived hard buffetings in the world. Anxiety and care concerning the future are thrown off at the entrance to the house, and the inmates are henceforth placed under conditions more favourable to health and longevity than they have ever before experienced".

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