North Hayling poorhouse

This is an article published in the Spring 2018 edition of the Hayling Island U3A newsletter....

It is interesting that Hayling once had a “Poorhouse” and that this was situated in North Hayling rather than in the south of the Island. It was built on a piece of land in what is St. Peter’s Road today. An Article in the Portsmouth Evening News dated 22nd October 1932 states that it was then a picturesque row of cottages known as North Terrace. In the 18th century the Parish of North Hayling had considerably more inhabitants than South Hayling. (A census taken in 1788 gave the population as being considerably the larger of the two parishes) so it is not surprising that the Poorhouse was built here.

The Poorhouse was a place where those who were unable to support themselves were offered accommodation and employment by their local parish. Life “in the workhouse” was intended to be harsh to ensure that only the truly destitute would apply. The Parish Council, who administered the Poorhouse, would use the free labour of inmates on tasks such as breaking stones, road mending, picking oakum and crushing bones to produce fertilizer. Inmates were required to surrender their clothes when they entered and wear standard workhouse uniforms.

The parish records for North Hayling exist from 1783, previous records having been lost. The Poorhouse was administered by the North Hayling Parish Council with a monthly meeting of ratepayers being held, its accounts and minutes kept by the churchwarden and two overseers, verified twice a year by two Justices of the Peace. Levying a Poor Rate on all local inhabitants raised income.

The minutes tell us that in 1787 the old almshouse was falling down and John Rogers (then the Church Warden) raised loans and was granted land to build a new Poor house.  The house was thatched and had attached to it a hog pen and a furze-house, both also thatched. In his book “The King holds Hayling”, F.G.S. Thomas tells us that “Wm. Palmer was master at 6 shillings a week, then came Mrs. Warren at about 4 shillings a week and Mr. Parr taught the children at two shillings and sixpence a week.”  He also tells us that “in 1801, when all the poorhouses in the country were full and overflowing Hayling North spent £60 a month on its poor.”  This was the year of the first official National Census and the parish of North Hayling was reckoned to have 254 residents.  Of these only 25 were ratepayers and, as Thomas states, “it almost passes belief that they should have had to find £740 for their poor”. 1801 was a disastrous year throughout the South of England because of a series of crop failures.

In the year 1834, when parish workhouses were superseded by Union Workhouses, the Havant Board of Guardians took over the duties formerly carried out by the parish of North Hayling.  The Poor of Hayling then became the responsibility of Havant Borough Council and were then all accommodated in the Havant Workhouse.

This is a very short introduction to our former Poorhouse.  Those interested in finding out more are directed towards an article published in the Portsmouth Evening News – 22 October 1932 and reproduced in “A Collection of Articles on Hayling Island Volume 2. (Havant History Booklet No.47) produced by The Spring.   Also “The King holds Hayling” by F.G.S. Thomas, chapters 13 and 14  “The Poor we had with us” and “Save the Parish Harmless”.   Both these sources provide fascinating glimpses into the life of the poor and the ways in which they were “cared for” in the 18th and early 19th centuries.  This article relies heavily on both these sources for information

Sue Humphrey