Norfolk: Poor Law


Wangford Incorporation (in Suffolk) 1764 - 1835

(Wangford Union from 1835)

This Suffolk Poor Law Union was situated south east of Norfolk and was centered around Beccles and Bungay.

Incorporation history

  • 1764 - Incorporation formed
  • 1765 - Workhouse built at Shipmeadow, [Map reference is TM378898]. Location is now called "Viewpoint Mews", (South of Main Bungay to Beccles Road), NR34 8EX.
  • 1835 - Incorporation became Wangford Poor Union.
  • 1938 - Closed.
  • 1940s - Marked as "St James' Hostel" on maps.
  • Also called "Shipmeadow House".
  • Buildings have now been converted to housing.

Description of the Union (previously an Incorporation) - White's 1844 Suffolk

The following is extracted from page 411 of the gazetteer and is part of the section entitled "Wangford Hundred".

WANGFORD UNION. - The Hundred of Wangford was incorporated for the support of its poor, under Gilbert's Act, in 1764; and in the following year, the guardians and overseers of the 27 parishes (Southelmham, All Saints and St. Nicholas being united as one) erected a large House of Industry at Shipmeadow, about three miles from Beccles and Bungay, at the cost of about £8500. This WORKHOUSE has room for about 450 paupers, and since the incorporation was dissolved, and the Hundred formed into a union under the new poor law commissioners, its internal arrangements have been considerably altered, so as to admit of a better classification of the sexes, and the aged and young. Eight guardians are elected for the two parishes of Bungay, 6 for Beccles, two each for eight of the other larger parishes, and one each for the 16 smaller parishes. The total expenditure for the relief of the poor of the 27 parishes, during the quarter ending March 21st, 1843, was £1748. 2s. 1¾d., exclusive of £8. 17s 6d. for registration fees, and £6. 9s. 6d. for vaccination fees. Rt. W. Clarke, Esq., is Union Clerk and Superintendent Registrar. Mr. Wm. Stanford is relieving officer and registrar of births and deaths for Beccles District, of which Mr. J. C. Webster is registrar of marriages; and Mr. Bloomfield Sewell is registrar of births, deaths and marriages, for Bungay District, of which Mr. Robert Butcher is relieving officer. Mr. Thos. and Mrs. Balls are master and matron of the Workhouse, which had 261 inmates in 1811, 206 in 1821, 250 in 1831, and 133 in 1841, when the census was taken in those years.

Parishes in the Union (previously Incorporation)

  Barsham   Shadingfield
  Beccles *   Shipmeadow #
  Bungay Holy Trinity   Sotterley
  Bungay St. Mary   Southelmham
  Cove (North)       All Saints
  Ellough       St. Cross
  Flixton       St. James
  Homersfield +       St. Margaret
  Ilketshall       St. Michael
      St. Andrew       St. Nicholas
      St. John       St. Peter
      St. Lawrence   Weston
      St. Margaret   Willingham
  Mettingham   Worlingham

|| Hulverstreet, a hamlet of Henstead parish, is within the bounds of Wangford Hundred. (See page 377.)

* Beccles included 32 persons in the House of Correction, in 1841.

+ Homersfield included 18 persons in tents and the open air, in 1841; and Bungay included six persons in barges

# Shipmeadow includes the Union Workhouse, which had more than 300 inmates in 1801, and 133 in 1841.

Further information can be found:

See also the Norfolk Poor Law page and the Post 1834 Unions page

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Copyright © Mike Bristow.
February 2011