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Voices from the Workhouse

Voices from the Workhouse was a three year project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.   This project has transformed the museum displays to help us to tell the real stories of the people who lived and worked in the workhouse.

Gressenhall was one of 22 workhouses in Norfolk and is one of the best preserved workhouse buildings in the country.  It houses the largest collection of workhouse objects, images and archives in the UK.  Displayed in the one-time Union Workhouse these superb collections give an insight into life for working people before the creation of the welfare state.

Thanks to the Voices from the Workhouse project, visitors can take an immersive journey through the new galleries and find out more about the workhouse regime.  Discover what inmates had to eat, how they worked, rested and even how they played – you will be surprised by some of things you will find!

At the heart of the project has been meticulous research into workhouses across the UK, using first-hand accounts and archive material.  Through the documents we’ve collated, our amazing collections and Gressenhall’s fascinating buildings you can explore the real life stories of people who lived in the workhouse and discover how their experiences still has relevance today.  In addition, a range of resources are now easily available for family historians to explore.

To find out even more about life in the workhouse, the project supported the development of a free handheld information tablet.  This enables you and your family to explore more of the museum's workhouse stories.  It also acts as a guide around the new galleries.  A free app for your smartphone or tablet is also available to download from your usual app store.

Although the Voices from the Workhouse project has finished, our exploration of workhouse stories continues.