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UK Vagrancy Cells, Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire - Aug '15

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Explored with The Stig, The Wombat and a non-member

History

A parliamentary report of 1777 recorded a parish workhouse in operation in 'Melton Mobray' with accommodation for up to 40 inmates. In 1835, the workhouse was in the town on Back Street, neither the building nor the street exist today.

Melton Mowbray Poor Law Union was officially brought into existence on 26th March 1836. Its operation was overseen by an elected Board of Guardians, with 56 members, representing the 54 constituent parishes. Three parishes were later added - Bescaby (1858), Shoby (1858) and Sysonby with Eye Kettleby (1894).

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The population falling within the Union at the 1831 census had been 17,872 with parishes ranging in size from Brooksby (population 10) to Melton Mowbray itself (3,356). The average annual poor-rate expenditure for the period 1833-5 had been £9,433 or 10s.7d. per head of the population. A new Union workhouse was built in 1836 on the east side of Thorpe Road in Melton Mowbray. Designed by Charles Dyer, with him adopting an elongated H-plan layout, rather than one of radial layouts more popular at the time. When it was built, it cost £6000 and was designed to house three hundred people. According to White's trade directory of 1846, it rarely housed more than half of that number at that time. The total expenditure of the 54 parishes during the tree years prior to 1836 was £9433. The expenditure of the Union in 1838 was £5793, in 1840 it was £4895-9s. and in 1845, £1172-19-9d.

The staff, in 1846 was headed by the master and matron, Mr Joseph and Mrs Jane Bell and there was a chaplain, Rev. G. Oakley.

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An infirmary designed by RW Johnson was added to the east of the workhouse around 1869-70. At the centre were a surgery. kitchen, and nurse's quarters. Male and female patients had separate entrance, situated to each side.

History of Vagrancy Law

The first major vagrancy law was passed in 1349 to increase the workforce following the Black Death by making "idleness" (unemployment) an offence. By the 1500s the statutes were mainly used as a means of controlling criminals. In 16th and 17th century England, a vagrant was a person who could work but preferred not to (or could not find employment, so took to the road in order to do so), or one who begs for a living. Vagrancy was illegal, punishable by branding, whipping, conscription into the military, or at times penal transportation to penal colonies. Vagrants were different from impotent poor, who were unable to support themselves because of advanced age or sickness. However, the English laws usually did not distinguish between the impotent poor and the criminals, so both received the same harsh punishments.

In 1824, earlier vagrancy laws were consolidated in the Vagrancy Act 1824 (UK) whose main aim was removing undesirables from public view. The act assumed that homelessness was due to idleness and thus deliberate, and made it a criminal offence to engage in behaviours associated with extreme poverty. The Poor Law was the system for the provision of social security in operation in England and Wales from the 16th century until the establishment of the Welfare State in the 20th century.

Explore

This was a nice easy explore to complete another eventful weekend with Mr and Mrs Stig. No major drama until I wandered round the front to take another look at the morgue and bumped into a couple of coppers outside the main part of the hospital. Just thankful they believed me when I asked for directions to the Maturnity Unit so I could go and see my sister who had given birth the night before. Great to explore with these three again

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Cheers for Looking :thumb

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