NORFOLK Museums Service
A plan of Gressenhall Workhouse

A History of Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse

In 1776 the combined parishes of Mitford and Launditch bought Chapel Farm at Gressenhall to build a ‘house of industry’ for the poor.

In 1834 the Poor Law Amendment Act led to the transformation of the house of industry into a workhouse. The aim was to keep costs low by making life for the paupers so unpleasant that people would do everything they could to avoid having to live there.

A new system of classification separated men, women and children. Work included breaking stones, pumping water, carting gravel and oakum picking for men and domestic chores in the kitchens, laundry and female wards for women. The only benefits were the health care and education.

The workhouse closed in 1948. After a short period of time as a home for the elderly, Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse opened as a museum in 1976.

The history of the building is explored in our new galleries. “Voices from the Workhouse” is a three-year Heritage Lottery Fund project which is transforming the museum displays, enabling us to tell the real stories of the people who lived and worked in the workhouse.

To learn more about the wider project, events, activities and forthcoming digital resources, please visit our Voices from the Workhouse webpage.

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