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Doing the chores


National Trust volunteers dressed as paupers and staff to offer visitors a taste of what life was like for the poor in the 1800s.

Visitors to The Workhouse, Upton Road, Southwell, saw paupers washing clothes, sieving stones and taking part in Victorian lessons as part of a Graft, Gruel and Good For Nothing day.

A meeting of the workhouse guardians, a group of men who oversaw the running of the workhouse, was re-enacted using minutes from a meeting in 1841.

Community learning officer Miss Heather Whitworth said using workhouse records helped make the day authentic.

“We can retell stories that actually happened,” she said. “For instance, one of the paupers ran away from the workhouse in 1841 and was found in a nearby alehouse so we had the volunteers re-enact that.

“We also acted out the death of one of the female paupers to show people what would have happened to her.”

Girls aged ten-16 from the Phoenix Players drama group, Doncaster, re-enacted the lessons that children would have had.

“Events like this bring the workhouse to life and show what life was like day-to-day,” said Miss Whitworth.

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