In Year 6 we are learning about Victorian Britain and what life was like for ordinary people. On our trip to Gressenhall we encountered various characters who told us about their lives working at the Victorian workhouse.
‘Ploughwright’ by Oliver
I can’t believe I got injured in that farm accident. They wake me up at 6am. Same thing every day. We only get food if we pick oakum, used on boats to stop holes and glue it together. Then, if we have picked enough oakum from ropes, we get breakfast. Grubby ol’ gruel. Despite the fact that it’s disgusting, at least it’s something to eat. Pick more oakum. Lunch. Pick more oakum. Dinner. Or you could die from inhaling the fibres from the rope (oakum lung). You would most definitely get headline. Bed at 9pm. Another glum day done.
‘Alice’ by Thomas
I have the worst job ever. Firstly, I have to get up at five o’clock to fill up 10 buckets with water ad then heat it by putting it in the copper. If you thought that I get a rest then, you’re wrong because Mrs Clackett, who only pays me 5p a day, tells me to get the buckets ready, get the clothes ready and get the dolly and thresher ready for when the water heats up. As soon as it heats up, I have to pour it back into the buckets so I can wash all the clothes with the dolly, all before the water cools down again. Phew; finished!
‘Mr Bradfield’ By Humphrey
I have the best job being a school teacher here at the workhouse. Every morning, I stand outside the schoolroom whilst the children line up with frowning faces boring into the ground. As I said, it’s the best job. The boys sit on one side and the girls on the other. Then, I have to hand out slates and markers so the children can copy. I have multiple methods of punishment. Frankly my favourite is the cane. I call up the boisterous child and I can them on their now bulbous behind. The main thing I teach them is about the British Empire. Oh yes, back to punishment. Another of my favourite punishments is the dunce’s cap. I love seeing their bright red faces and watering eyes.
‘Mrs Clackett’ by Anna
I’m tired. I get up at the crack of dawn so that’s probably why. Why you ask? I have to start the fire on the range. On Sundays I go to the parlour and sew and weave before praying. But, every Monday to Saturday I churn the butter, I cook breakfast and go off to greet the workers. I pay them too but I haven’t been doing that recently. Money’s been tight since my husband died.
Well, then I give Alice the washing and iron the clothes that were washed yesterday. How? Using the range of course. Next, I start on lunch. I use as much as I can from the farm. Sugar, that’s a problem. It’s expensive and I don’t grow it. I eat, check on Alice, Hicks and Mr Dalton, then beat the carpet. What with? The carpet beater. I cook again, eat again, wish my workers a good night and go to bed at nine o’clock.