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Using the sources and my own knowledge explain if I agree with this assessment of the evidence available at Gressenhall.

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Introduction

'A visit to Gressenhall is the best way to learn about living and working conditions is this workhouse after the Poor Law Amendment Act.' Using the sources and my own knowledge explain if I agree with this assessment of the evidence available at Gressenhall. In this essay I will be either agreeing or disagreeing that visiting Gressenhall workhouse is the greatest way to learn about living and Working conditions in this workhouse. Firstly source A, an account of a visit by Lord and Lady Townshend to Gressenhall House of Industry. This source gives me a clear but biased impression of Gressenhall before 1834. This source is biased due to the Lady and Lord would have been one of the ratepayers and also would not of wanted to of seen paupers on the streets. This means that they would of agreed and would have been supporting the workhouse system. Also this is not as appropriate as the other sources, this is because it is written previous to 1834 and I am studying the time subsequent to 1834. On the other hand the visit to Gressenhall at location 5 would not of been a biased opinion of living and working conditions. At location 5, the museum, showed myself a recreated family room. This gave me a good idea of living conditions in the workhouse, as I got to see it first hand. This location also showed the Robert Kerrison painting from 1810. ...read more.

Middle

On my visit to Gressenhall at location 5, the museum, I found out a lot about this subject. Firstly I found out about the uniforms that they had to wear, which is not mentioned in the source. They had to wear workhouse dress, which was drab and unflattering. Unmarried mothers were still distinguished, if more subtly than before, by being made to wear a 'jacket' made of the same material as the other workhouse clothes. This practice, which earned them the nickname of 'jacket women', continued until 1866. Also in the mesuem I found out about the beds which the inmates had to sleep in, which also is not mentioned in the source. The furniture was a cheap wooden bed with a flock-filled sack as a mattress. Two or three blankets were provided, but pillows were considered an unnecessary luxury. Sheets were not provided. Most people shared a bed; the beds were arranged as in a barracks - two rows of bunks. In addition I found out about the types of work that the inmates had to do, which also is not mentioned in the source. 'Work' consisted of oakum-picking, stone-breaking, bone crushing, sack-making or driving the corn mill. Oakum is old rope, sometimes tarred or knotted. These ropes had to be unpicked inch by inch and a day's work would be to unravel 3 lbs. of rope. Inmates walking round on a tread wheel drove the corn mill. ...read more.

Conclusion

Whereas on my visit the mock up of the meal shows what variety and type of food was served to the inmates. Also at my visit to Gressenhall I could observe the segregation walls, and see where each group of pauper were kept in. Overall comparing source L and my visit, a visit to Gressenhall is the best way to gain knowledge about the living conditions in the workhouse. In conclusion both the sources and the visit to Gressenhall are informative but also they have their limitations. For example, the sources are selective and have little information on emotions of the inmates. This is because the paupers have left no written documents about their experiences. This may be because a lot of the paupers were illiterate. As for the visit to Gressenhall, it cannot give details of the life inside Gressenhall workhouse as sources E and H can for example. On the other hand the sources and the visit help me to gain more knowledge of Gressenhall's working and living conditions. On the whole it appears that a visit to Gressenhall is the greatest way to learn about the living and working conditions in this workhouse. This is because visiting Gressenhall supplies you with a lot more information, for example from the museum. Unlike the visit, the sources do not contain a lot of information; the information, which they contain, is mainly based of one or two subjects. Whereas the information I found at Gressenhall is a lot more varied. Overall visiting Gressenhall taught myself further information about living and working conditions at the workhouse than the sources could. Claire Lewis 11L ...read more.

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