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In 2021, members of the Church Stretton Local History Group researched the Union Workhouse that once stood on the site now occupied by St Lawrence's Primary School in the town. The research was completed some two and a half years later and a book was published in 2024, entitled "Could Be Worse". The book is for sale in the Mayfair Community Centre in Church Stretton and in the Church Stretton Library, for a very reasonable £5, or by post from Amanda Twohig. The cost by post is £8 to cover post and packaging. Contact can be made by completing the form in the "Contact" page on this website or by emailing

So what did this project involve? The aim was to produce biographies of the 83 inmates and vagrants and three staff members who were in the Church Stretton Union Workhouse on the evening of the census of 3 April 1881 and to provide an analysis of the circumstances of those people, to establish why they ended up there and to find out what happened to them afterwards. It was our intention to make the results freely available and to bring back to life an Institution which was feared by many, was the only means of survival for others, yet which provided a better start in life for some of the children in there than had they stayed outside of its walls. 

Our inmates were typical of those in workhouses generally – not the work-shy pauper so entrenched in the minds of the Victorian rate-payers but the old, the infirm and unmarried mothers who - unlike in previous centuries - bore the entire burden of childcare with little or no opportunity to work (most local single women were in service, where there was ample opportunity for abuse).


By studying the individuals, it brought to life the otherwise dry legal framework and societal norms of the time. While the idea that a man had to support the existing children (illegitimate or otherwise) of his wife upon marriage was not alien to us, the situation whereby grandparents were responsible for maintaining their grandchildren and children were responsible for maintaining their parents was more of a surprise. Especially that they had to pay for their relatives' keep when they were in the Workhouse.

The results of our research can now be found on the following webpages (or see menu at top of page):

The Talk

The Exhibition

The Book

Individual Biographies


Our work has been made possible by the generous funding of the Shropshire Archaeological and Historical Society's Betton Fund, the Church Stretton Town Council and the CSALHG itself.

Without their generous support, we would have been unable to share the results of our work so widely, including being able to sell the book significantly below cost price.

Church Stretton Union Workhouse
A Website of The Church Stretton Local History Group (CSALHG)

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