This ancient hamlet gradually emerged called Hucknall-under-Huthwaite, inside influential parish borders of Sutton-in-Ashfield. Agriculture long supported majority of worker tenants, until a nationwide population boom led into a more industrious 18th century. But local landowners shared widespread concerns when these poor farmlands could barely sustain increasing numbers of dependant rural workers. Subsequently passed through Acts of Parliament came the Poor Laws. Amendments followed after placing responsibility directly upon each parish government to provide suitable means of employing all its desperate needy.
Unemployment still commonly faced anyone suffering handicap or illness. Children and elders left in dire poverty joined many of the disabled and mentally disturbed, whose failure to feed or house themselves meant being condemned for a life in the workhouses. The work of Sutton historian L Lindley noted
Before the adoption of the Poor Law Amendment Bill, 1834 A.D., forming Unions, which Act was amended 1836-38, 1846-47, each parish had to maintain its own poor, who, in some cases were housed in cottages secured by the Overseers for that special purpose. Sutton, like most other towns, were not unfortunately without its poor, and consequently several cottages in Hardwick Street were "commandeered" for their accommodation. Hence the space of ground at the rear of the old Ebenezer Chapel being called "Workhouse Yard." Under these circumstances, no parish would, if it could possibly avoid it, have cottages built. The large amount of labour, however, which had been imported into Sutton to work the mills were perforced to be housed in cottages very hurriedly erected regardless of sanitary arrangements, air space, or anything else. This would account, in a large measure, to the congested condition in the old part of Sutton, such as in the Idlewells and Devonshire Square district. In 1847, when Mr William Bonser and Mr. James Lindley were Overseers of the Poor. 15 rates of 10d. in the £ were levied for the relief of the poor. It was apparent that this state of affairs could not go on, so the Government Bill forming districts into Unions was one of the finest measures that was ever introduced for the relief of the poor—at any rate, for the rates of Sutton. When the Workhouse at Mansfield was erected, the Workhouse at Sutton ceased to exist.
Giving mention to a Sutton area called Workhouse Yard, is also a term recalled among Hucknall-under-Huthwaite. Although there's no actual records supporting such use for housing very poorest, tiny cottages forming a Royal Oak Yard gained a few historic uses, but did locally retain this past unofficial addressing.
The authoritative work by GG Bonser stated how no actual accounts survive detailing inmates or business from Sutton workhouses. His information was extracted from minutes of meetings when held in the parish vestry, dating intentions on 6th December 1771 into firstly letting pieces of land towards covering expense of a new workhouse. Rents are recorded in April 1789 from area called Town Green, shared by Overseers of Sutton and Hucknall, when our two townships remained a single parish. Bonser did report that a Dr Wilson of Hucknall Huthwaite was its medical officer for 5s per week, although its asserted that on 23rd February 1790, Samuel Wilson of Hucknall Huthwaite and his wife were appointed as Overseers of that Workhouse at £10 for one year. Their signed and witnessed agreement reads...
"First he is to see the provisions properly distributed amongst that family, he is also to set to work those that he thinks able. He is likewise to act in his professional business as surgeon and apothecary for all the poor of this parish gratis, he being paid for the drugs or medicine by the overseer of the poor for the time being."
Difficulty arises determining when the Sutton workhouse became duly built, though it would seem sited on or around Hardwick Street, in use from 1777 until that buildings 1846 sale. A Thomas Dove and wife were appointed Master and Mistress 24th February 1800, possibly seeing a workshop added 1816. Impression is given of failing attempts meeting industrial sufficiency, when by 1820 financial assistance sought from the Duke of Portland helps cover expense uniting parish assistance. The inefficient costs inflicted upon smaller parishes finally necessitated an 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act creating larger Unions. Another House of Industry at Basford noted a Guardian John Clarke resided Crow Trees, Fulwood.
A Mansfield Union became declared in June 1836. General guidelines were made such buildings should resemble prisons, or at least reflect degrading hardship enough to repulse normal humanity. Architect Sampson Kempthorne designed this Mansfield Workhouse, opened 1837 at a cost of £7,000. That austere stone construction standing on Stockwell Gate accommodated about 300 inmates
Improvements and extensions dated from year 1883 cost upward another £15,000. A Mansfield architect Mr R F Vallance is credited for erecting an 84 bed Infirmary, larger dining hall, adding baths and an efficient drainage system before adding another vagrant ward. This all allowed the Board of Guardians to sufficiently room far more patients, although such facilities also recognised an Infirmary Hospital.
The Mansfield Union included parishes in both Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, eventually incorporating all Ault Hucknall, Blackwell, Blidworth, Fulwood, Glapwell, Heywood Oaks, Hucknall Huthwaite, Lyndhurst, Mansfield, Mansfield Woodhouse, Pinxton, Pleasley, Scarcliff, Skegby, Sookholme, South Normanton, Sutton-in-Ashfield, Teversal, Tibshelf, Upper Langwith and Warsop. Accounts are recorded showing the Board conducted some tough interrogations before allowing entry. Realising tax payers expense meant humiliated victims proving their degrading needs before securing working accommodation.
|Inmates identified by birth from Hucknall-under-Huthwaite|
|Named as Inmates||Mar||Age||Sex||Occupancy|
|Allsop Bartholomew||M||40||M||Agricultural Labourer|
|Archer Lewis William||-||8||M|
|Herrett John||U||70||M||Gardener Domestic Servant|
|Kitchener Herbert||U||39||M||Coal Miner|
|Radford Laurence||U||68||M||Cotton Stocking Knitter|
|Smith Henry||U||55||M||Coal Miner|
|Wass Elizabeth||U||58||F||House Wife|
Census 1881 fully reveals staff and inmate numbers totalled residency at 234. Listing just these inmates extracted by given birth in Hucknall-under-Huthwaite may still not be true representation of all our villagers. Names could relate other inmates, when readily finding birthplace addresses come from far and wide before relocation.
The Mansfield Union in that year covered an area of 57,094 acres, with a combined population of 44,958 inhabiting 9,058 houses. Ten years later it spread across 57,810 acres, supporting a significant rise in population recorded in 1891 at 55,296 residents. These were times of rapid industrial changes. Still administered by Poor Law Guardians, a foundation stone laid July 23rd 1897 saw further extension onto the Mansfield Workhouse Infirmary. At a reported cost of £10,000 it almost doubled capacity allowing for at least another 160 patients. But in so doing it become called the Victoria Hospital. Reflecting changing needs for care, this long continuing to serve modern demands, seeing out reorganisation and then demolition of other Workhouse Institutions.
Written 01 Jul 04 Revised 10 Aug 14 © by Gary Elliott