In Victorian society the workhouse represented the underbelly of society, where anyone who was poor, homeless, unemployed or ill was sent to live.
With no benefits system in place, destitute people were either left to starve on the streets or forced to submit themselves to the harsh conditions of the workhouse where they worked ten hours a day doing menial tasks such as breaking rocks up or picking apart ropes.
In this two part series, presenter Fern Britton, actress Kiera Chaplin, actor Brian Cox, actress Felicity Kendal and author Barbara Taylor Bradford go back to the sites of the workhouses where their ancestors lived to find out what happened to them.
Runtime: 60 minutes
Secrets from the Workhouse - Christmas Day in the Workhouse - Netflix
In the Workhouse : Christmas Day, better known by its first line, “It is Christmas Day in the workhouse”, is a dramatic monologue written as a ballad by campaigning journalist George Robert Sims and first published in The Referee for the Christmas of 1877. It appeared in Sims' regular Mustard and Cress column under the pseudonym Dagonet and was collected in book form in 1881 as one of The Dagonet Ballads, which sold over 100,000 copies within a year. It is a criticism of the harsh conditions in English and Welsh workhouses under the 1834 Poor Law. As a popular and sentimental melodrama, the work has been parodied many times.
Secrets from the Workhouse - Sources - Netflix
Connelly, Mark (2012), Christmas: A History, I.B.Tauris, ISBN 9781780763613 Broadview Press (2012), "George R. Sims: “How the Poor Live” (1883)", in Donovan, Stephen; Rubery, Matthew, Secret Commissions: An Anthology of Victorian Investigative Journalism, ISBN 9781770483538 Higginbotham, Peter (2012), The Workhouse Encyclopedia, The History Press, ISBN 9780752477190 Kemp, Sandra; Mitchell, Charlotte; Trotter, David (1997), Edwardian Fiction: An Oxford companion, Oxford University Press, ISBN 9780198117605 Moore, Tara (2009), Victorian Christmas in Print, Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN 9780230623330
Secrets from the Workhouse - References - Netflix