Updated 28 Mar 2008

WIRKSWORTH Parish Records 1600-1900

Return to Front Page



Photo 323


Taken c.1900

From an old pamphlet c.1920

Taken c.1925

Babington House served as the local workhouse between 1724-1829.
Here is a description of conditions in Wirksworth workhouse in 1795.

The State of the Poor:
A History of the Labouring Classes in England, with Parochial Reports, 1797.

by Sir Frederic Morton Eden.

"The Workhouse is an old building, not originally intended for the purpose; it is not in a good situation, but as far as its construction will permit, kept clean and airy. The following is the weekly diet : Breakfast-Sunday, Wednesday, Friday-Bread and broth; rest of the week-Milk pottage. Dinner-Sunday, Wednesday, Friday-Bread, broth, butcher's meat, potatoes, etc. ; Monday-Baked puddings and treacle sauce; Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday-Bread and milk. Supper-Milk pottage and bread every day. On meat days the proportion is at 20 lbs. meat for 30 persons. The children are kept very clean, and are instructed in their catechism, reading, etc. Few of the inmates are able to work, those who are spin lint, tow, etc., for the use of the house. They are allowed one penny for every 7d. of spinning. The rooms are of various sizes, and contains 2 to 7 beds each. The beds and pillows are filled with chaff, and have 2 sheets, 1 blanket, and 1 coverlet. There are at present 28 persons in the house, 12 under 7 years of age. Subscriptions for the Poor last winter (1794-5) amounted to £60, which were laid out in purchasing coal, beef, and potatoes. The Poor in the Workhouse have oat bread, but no beer or cheese, except at Christmas. A sort of gruel called water pottage, consisting of a small proportion of oatmeal, and a small onion boiled with water, was eaten with bread twice and sometimes thrice a day by many people in this neighbourhood. It was much used during the late hard season. The cost of such a meal was about 1¼d. for each adult. Several small donations, amounting to £45 10s., are distributed yearly among the Poor who do not receive any parish relief."

Eden's reputation as a social investigator rests on The State of the Poor, published in 3 volumes in 1797. He explained the circumstances that led him to do the research

"The difficulties which the labouring classes experienced, from the high price of grain, and of provisions in general, as well as of clothing and fuel, during the years 1794 and 1795, induced me, from motives both of benevolence and personal curiosity, to investigate their conditions in various parts of the kingdom."

Babington House, Green Hill

For 60 years Babington House was the cottage hospital for Wirksworth. It was built about 1630 as a private residence. From 1724-1829 it was a Workhouse, and from 1867-1927 a cottage Hospital. The house was used as a Bed & Breakfast during 1970's, 80's and 90's, and currently is a private residence. The cottage hospital had 11 beds, 8 for illnesses and 3 for casualties. Notice the sundial on the gable wall on the right, between the windows.

Photo taken:

Click on photo for enlargement (on CD only)

Have any more information about this photo? 
Please e-mail the author on:

Enlargement - two patients and a nurse.

The sundial on the wall

A drawing of the House.

Compiled, formatted, hyperlinked, encoded, and copyright © 2005, All Rights Reserved.