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AN EYE WITNESS  ACCOUNT OF A CHRISTMAS DAY IN THE

 MINSTER WORKHOUSE

1879.

 

 

We are very pleased to inform you that  during the present Festive Season ,our poor friends ;the inmates of the Sheppey Union ,the Workhouse, have not been forgotten , for on Christmas Day they were provided with meat, plum pudding, etc. etc in great abundance.

The following articles were supplied for the dinner on Christmas day , 160 lbs of beef,  24 lbs of suet, 50lbs of flour , 250 lbs of potatoes, 224 lbs of carrots , 90 lbs of currants and raisins, 12lbs of sugar , 8lbs of peel, 50 eggs, 40lbs of bread, and 20 pints of milk. One pint of ale was  provided  for each adult with snuff and tobacco

The children were bounteously supplied with nuts, apples and  oranges .

There are about 130 inmates in the workhouse and we are glad to enjoyed the good things provided and chronicle that all of them , were  thoroughly  loud in praising the untiring exertions of Mr.L Knight the highly respected and excellent Master of the House.

We  think it would have softened many a hard heart to have witnessed the pleasing spectacle which these poor people presented on Christmas Day.

The whole building was most elaborately decorated by the inmates under the personal supervision of the Master.
On entering the house at the front door was the word  “Welcome “ in white wool on pink ground and passing through into the Chapel which had lately been nicely painted and coloured with new hangings, and on the left is the text “ Glory to God in the highest “ whilst on the right “ Peace on earth and goodwill to all men”. There were several ornamental crosses etc on the walls

On entering the Infirmary on the female side was the text “ I was sick and ye visited me “ and on the wall of the male side “ Blessed is he that considereth  the poor “

In the old man s day room over the fireplace was the words “ Welcome “  and on  each side “ Merry  Christmas “ and a Happy New Year “ 

The old womens sick ward was decorated in  first class style .It was a pitiful sight to see so many in the room but it must be very gratifying to the ratepayers to know that they are so well cared for. Over the mantelpiece was the text “ Speak not evil one of another “ with a plume of feathers  underneath with the words “ Ich Dien “ on it over which was the motto “ God  bless our officers “ with a beautiful cross under them.

In the young men s sick room were the texts “ Love one another “ “ The gift of God is eternal life “    and “ The wages of sin are death “ with a plume of white feathers over the mantelpiece and various Scripture mottoes  on the beautiful white walls.

The young womens sick room in which there were several young people ,the text “ I am the Good Shepherd “could be seen over the door and on the walls were texts

The old mens ward  also presented a most beautiful appearance  and although many of the poor old folks were  suffering with intense pain we were favoured by a violin solo. On the mantelpiece were artificial flowers  under glass shades ,nice vases etc. The girls day room which contained about 30 children whose ages ranged from five to fourteen . . Over the mantelpiece was the motto “ A Merry  Christmas and a Happy New Year.” with two pink flags underneath , and round the room  various texts were displayed

There were chains extending from corner to corner and several texts over the fireplace .The room presented a most handsome appearance and reflects the greatest credit on Mrs. Elvin the schoolmistress under whose supervision the decorations were carried out.
In the boys day room were chains from corner to corner with a Chinese Lantern hanging from the centre

The  mottoes and the dark crimson flags were very neatly made and presented a pleasing spectacle.

At midnight the officers placed on the pillow of each inmate a letter containing am illuminated card with texts also pictorial tracts and other instructive writings , These were the gifts of the House Chaplain .Great pleasure was manifested , more especially  among the children at finding missives in the morning .

The order prohibiting smoking in the hospital wards was with the sanction of the Medical Officer  removed and gave “ great satisfaction “  In fact everything passed off most pleasantly ,  the whole of the inmates thoroughly enjoyed themselves . Great praise is due to the Master ,Matron and other officers  for their kind attention and earnest desire to promote the comfort and enjoyment of those under their charges. Although the workhouse was so nicely decorated it must be gratifying to know that Mr. Knight , the Master carried out the whole of his work without any expense to the ratepayer.

 

 

It was also of note the same week that John Church  and James Pearce had been punished  with one meal of bread and water  for creating a disturbance  in the House

And

A person named Stone applied for permission to have her deceased sisters child with her at Christmas as she thought the child would be better in the House  .This was refused.

And

A  letter was read from the engineer  stating he had caught 28 rats in the House  since June and asked for the usual remuneration of 2d per tail

And

A labourer from Halfway attended the Board and asked for relief .He was 46  years of age and had a wife and three children .He had been out of work for five weeks. He was granted 2 &1/2  gallons of bread and 1/- worth of groceries by way of a loan.