Report - - Union Workhouse, Eastry. June 2010 | Asylums and Hospitals | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Union Workhouse, Eastry. June 2010


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Eastry Hospital, formerly being the Eastry Union Workhouse, then Eastry Union Workhouse Infirmary (1871-1930) and Eastry Institution (1930-1948), before becoming a Hospital in 1948 until its final closure around 1997.

It was in 1834 when the institutions known as workhouses came into being, often run by a group of parishes - hence the title Union Workhouse, with Boards of Guardians being set up to oversee them.

Eastry Poor Law Union officially came into existence on 27th April 1835, and was part of a Gilbert Union formed under Gilbert's Act of 1782. The act aimed to organize poor relief on a county basis with each county being divided into large districts corresponding to a Hundred (an old administrative unit within a county), or other large group of parishes.

Such unions of parishes could set up a common workhouse, although this was to be for the benefit only of the old, the sick and infirm, and orphaned children. Perhaps most significantly, able-bodied paupers were not to be admitted, but were found employment near their own homes with land-owners, farmers and other employers receiving allowances from the poor rates to bring wages up to subsistence levels.

The Union erected a workhouse at the south side of Mill Lane in Eastry in 1835-6, the architect being William Spanton, who followed Sir Francis Head's model courtyard plan (which was also adopted by other Kent Unions such as Bridge, Cranbrook, Dartford, Dover, East Ashford, Malling, and Tonbridge). The new Eastry workhouse was designed to accommodate about 500 inmates.


The entrance block was to the north of the site. Two-storey blocks were arranged around a large courtyard to the south and a separate three storey infirmary block, together with detached fever wards was erected to the south of the workhouse in 1871. A chapel was built close to the road immediately to the north of the workhouse.

The former workhouse later became Eastry Hospital, a centre for the care of those with learning disabilities. The hospital has now closed and the site is being redeveloped; the infirmary block has been demolished along with most of the entrance block. The Grade II listed "Old Buildings" remain, along with the chapel which is sealed tight at the moment.









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