Old workhouse, Corwen
This building was completed in 1840 for the Corwen Poor Law Union. It provided a home for local paupers, under legislation passed in the 1830s to address Britain’s growing bill for poor relief. Workhouses were funded by central government and administered by local unions (parishes grouped together). This workhouse was designed to house 150 people from seven parishes. Men and boys lived in the wing to one side of the entrance, women and girls in the other wing.
Notice how Corwen workhouse was built in the form of a cross. This separated the grounds into four yards where able-bodied residents worked for their keep. At each internal corner the wall is angled, so that the windows gave supervisors a clear view of the yard.
In 1865 the workhouse’s managers were reprimanded for hiring a carriage to take an insane inmate to the asylum in Denbigh rather than using a cheaper alternative – the railway from Corwen to Denbigh which had opened the previous year.
In 1870 two inmates, Edward Miller of Chelsea and John Smith of Durham, were jailed for a month for tearing their clothes at the workhouse!
From 1840 to 1880, 89 boys and 75 girls were born at the workhouse. In that period, 283 people died there, of whom 67 were children and 37 were aged over 80.
The local community treated the inmates to Christmas dinner each year. In 1881, this was served to about 60 inmates in the “tastefully decorated” dining hall while the sick and infirm inmates ate in their wards. In 1871 the townspeople donated for 39 inmates to have a day out in Rhyl.
The building has had various other uses, including engineering workshops. Now known as Corwen Manor, it hosts a café and a shop selling candles, crafts and fishing supplies.
Postcode: LL21 0DR