Visiting former poorhouses

This guide was last updated in 2012

Over the years, more than seventy ‘statutory’ poorhouses – those under the jurisdiction of the Board of Supervision – were established by larger parishes and combinations.

Many of these buildings later became hospitals and care homes, with some now converted to residential use such as Edinburgh’s massive Craiglockhart poorhouse. More than a hundred smaller parishes also set up informally run ‘parish houses’ or ‘almshouses’ where the poor, particularly the elderly, could live rent-free.

A good number of both types of building survive and their details can be found on and in The Workhouse Encyclopedia. Good views of former poorhouse sites are often possible from the public highway without needing to stray onto private property.


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