History Visit to Ripon Workhouse Museum
9th February 2023
A crisp and frosty morning provided a suitably shivery backdrop for the Year 12 Historians’ visit to Ripon Workhouse Museum. Established as a result of the draconian 1834 Poor Law, the workhouse provided the last refuge for Ripon’s most marginalised and desperate residents for over a century. An intimidating institution, it offered a bed, a roof and basic rations (think Oliver Twist and his bowl of gruel!) in return for a life of stifling routine, laborious drudgery and social isolation. The visit allowed students to immerse themselves in this lost world as they spent the morning touring the workhouse and exploring the lives of its inmates. In the afternoon, they visited the nearby courthouse museum, role-playing a historic trial which saw a 12 year old boy deported to Australia for stealing a loaf of bread in Ripon marketplace – another reminder of the sometimes harsh realities of Victorian life. It wasn’t all doom and gloom, however, as students did manage to avail themselves of excellent fish and chips during the lunch break! Overall, a highly worthwhile and enriching visit, breathing life into our study of society in the midst of the Industrial Revolution.
Mr O Shaw