menu 1
menu 2
menu 3
menu 4
menu 5
menu 6

    Salthouse inmates of  WEST BECKHAM WORKHOUSE


The infirmary wing in ruin is all that remains of West Beckham Workhouse
where many of the unlucky poor of Salthouse ended up

This forlorn site was bought by someone from Devon a few years ago with the idea of developement — so the locals say. Not long ago West Beckham children used to play among the ruins of the main building, and scavengers raided it for building materials. I have tried to get in and photograph the old infirmary building for myself, but the whole site is now completely fenced against intrudors!


However, Jonathan Neville (of has taken this picture from the air, and now we can see how it looks today!

None of the main building remains, but there are some pictures of it, before it was demolished in the 1970s,
on Peter Higginbotham's website:
. For his home page click


Meanwhile, names of those unfortunate Salthouse people in the Workhouse, are available here

This was the workhouse used by Salthouse people, and the following information has been kindly donated
to the Salthouse History site by Honor Jones.

Here — among the many others from as far afield as North Walsham over to Holt
are the only folks
born in Salthouse, who were residing in West Beckham Union House in 1851:
Hannah DIX   ( head )  Unmarried 37  born Salthouse.
Thomas DIX  ( son )  aged 9  born Salthouse
Lydia DIX  ( daur )  aged 7  born Salthouse.

After a search through Gressenhall 1851 census, Honor was happy to find not one Salthouse-born person!

From the 1861 census for West Beckham Union Workhouse, Honor found three children from Salthouse.
she says "
As these children were all orphans and their information is in sequence, I think they must have
been brothers and sister."

Alexander PARLETT Orphan aged 11 Scholar born in Salthouse.
Alvena PARLETT Orphan aged 8 Scholar born in Cley Next the Sea.
John PARLETT Orphan aged 4 Scholar born in Salthouse.

From the film for West Beckham Workhouse which Honor purchased some 15 or more years ago,
she transcribed the baptismal register and the death register. The following are folks from Salthouse
who died in the West Beckham Union Workhouse, during the period Oct 4th, 1867 to March 30th, 1933.

INDEX for Deaths ( for Salthouse people) in the West Beckam Union Workhouse
during the period Oct 4th 1867 to March 30th 1933.


INDEX for Births or dates of birth, and Baptisms in West Beckham Union Workhouse.
Nov 9th, 1867 to Dec 2nd, 1932


if you would like to see the details of any of the names in the above index email me: click on 'Val'


In the introduction to 'On the Parish', edited by Susan Yaxley and published by the Larks Press 1994, Jane Hales talks of the 'half a century ago' when she served on a Board of Guardians — a twentieth-century equivalent of the old Poor Law Overseers of the past. The 'Institution' and its infirmary which she describes in this excerpt from her introduction, must have been the West Beckham Workhouse which was still in service at that time.

" . . . We met monthly in a pleasant south-facing room and every month two of the Guardians visited and inspected what was then called 'The Institution' and its Infirmary. When it was my turn to share the visit, the Matron took us along forbidding, tunnel-like passages to the women's day room. There they sat round the walls, doing nothing. The only cheer was a blazing fire, which was much needed as there was no central heating.
In the Infirmary, an old woman who I had known outside, asked me where she was. I replied, I hope tactfully, "In a Nursing Home."' A loud voice came from the end of the ward, — "No she ain't, she's not, she's in the .........Workhouse!"

"At the next full meeting of the Guardians my companion and I suggested that the patients, in their dreary, north-facing rooms, should be allowed to use the Board Room when not in use. A stern silence greeted our proposal. Neither the Guardians nor the patients could escape from the ethos of the old Workhouse.

"The worst horrors of the old Workhouse system, engraved on the minds of many geneations of the poor, dated from the years immediately following the Poor Law amendment Act of 1834 ( see: 'A Web of English History' for more about the Act). Then outdoor relief was rarely given, destitute men, women and children were forced into separate workhouses so that families were often divided, and workhouse conditions were, as a matter of principle, made worse than those of the lowest paid worker outside."


To read about Salthouse's Overseers of the Poor and the outside relief given by the Parish in the years from 1792- 1834 click here

Site menu

Val Fiddian 2005