The Cardigan Poor Law Union was formed in 1837. In April 1837 Daniel Evans, architect, produced plans and estimates for building and decoration here. Though not yet begun, the workhouse is nevertheless marked on the 1838 Tithe Map. In 1839 work commenced on the building by William Owen of Haverfordwest, probably to plans by G. Wilkinson of Oxford – architect to the Poor Law Commissioners. Elsewhere it is said that William Owen was paid £160 for plans, specifications and supervision and that Benjamin Evans was the builder. It was built at a cost of £3250 for the poor of 25 parishes in Cardiganshire and Pembrokeshire. It was built on land at Dincoed near the village. On 28th December 1839 Thomas Lundy and his wife, Mary Lundy, became the first Master and Matron. In 1839-52 Thomas & Mary Lundy were the Master and Matron. William Lane Noott of Cardigan was appointed the Doctor for the Union. Designed to accommodate 120 inmates, the new building was completed in February 1840. In 1840 John Jenkins was appointed an additional doctor for the Union. In 1841 the following persons lived here: Thomas Lundy, 50, Master; his wife, Mary Lundy, 50, Matron; their daughter, Anne Lundy, school mistress; and daughter, Mary Lundy, 13. There were 43 inmates, including 1 vagrant.
In 1842, 9 vagrants were housed here. In 1843, 89 men and 13 women were housed here. In 1844, 219 men and 5 women were housed here. On January 1st 1844 there were 65 inmates – 11 males, 20 females, 31 children and 3 vagrants. In 1844 Caleb Lewis of No. 30 High Street, Cardigan, was the Clerk to the Board of Guardians. During 1845, 426 men and 15 women were housed here. On 11th April 1845 the following appeared in the ‘Pembrokeshire Herald‘:
“…George Smith, aged 20, and James Horton, aged 21 were committed by the borough magistrates to hard labour far 21 days to the Cardigan House of Correction, for tearing and destroying their clothes at the Cardigan Union Workhouse, where they were admitted for a night’s lodging…”
On 26th November 1847 the following appeared in the ‘Pembrokeshire Herald‘:
“…On Thursday, the 18th instant, Henry Barber was brought up before Thomas George Nugent, Esq., in custody of P. C. Jones, from the Cardigan union workhouse, and charged bv, Mr. Thomas Lundy, the master, with creating a riot and destroying his clothes, for which he was sentenced to 21 days’ imprisonment and hard labour...”
On 14th January 1848 the following appeared in the ‘Pembrokeshire Herald‘:
“…CARDIGAN.—On Saturday, an Irish pauper was brought before the borough magistrates, at the town-hall, by Mr Thomas Lundy, the master of the work house, for refusing to work, after having received relief. The pauper was well versed in the poor-law, and contended that he had not received orders from the master personally, but through another pauper, which objection the master was ordered to remedy for the future, by giving his directions personally. The pauper was removed again to the workhouse, much pleased with the rule he had obtained. Mr. Lundy has much trouble with these legal knowledge paupers…”
On 21st April 1848 the following appeared in the ‘Pembrokeshire Herald‘:
“…CARDIGAN UNION.—Mr. John Bevan, surgeon, Cardigan, and Mr. David Evans, surgeon, Fountain Hill, are in the field for the situation of surgeon to the union workhouse, vacant by the demise of Mr. Noot. An inquiry is likewise about to be made whether a guardian is qualified to supply the workhouse with necessaries without a public contract, and whether he can become a contractor either directly or indirectly…”
On 28th April 1848 the ‘Pembrokeshire Herald‘ reported:
“…On Wednesday, before George Nugent, Esq., William Thomas, and George Hodden, were charged by Mr. Lundy, the master of the Cardigan Union Workhouse, with destroying their clothes and refusing to work. One was committed for fifteen days, and the other for twenty days, to Haverfordwest gaol…”
In November 1848 Ann Lundy, daughter of the Master and Matron, was appointed the first schoolmistress at the workhouse. She was the schoolmistress in 1848-52. In 1850-87 William Griffith George of Rhydgarnwen, Llantood, was the Clerk. David Jeremiah was confined to a separate room and given a restricted diet at some point during 1850, for insulting one of the Guardians. In 1851 Thomas Lundy, 60, and his wife Mary Lundy, 60, were the Master and Matron. There were two other staff – one of them schoolmistress Anne Richards, 28 (nee’ Lundy, married ca1851?), and 92 paupers. In January 1852 Mrs Mary Arundel was appointed schoolmistress at the workhouse, but was later dismissed as inefficient. On 30th June 1852 Thomas Lundy, the Master for 13 years, died aged 61.
It seems likely that William George, a former policeman, was elected the new Master of the workhouse in 1852. On 25th March 1853 George Bowen, Poor Law Guardian for St. Dogmaels, wrote the following in a letter:
“…We have a pauper inmate of the workhouse called Margaret Edwards charged to our parish. She is healthy and an industrious woman of 30 years of age and had the misfortune of getting a bastard child called John of 3 years old. She has a brother, mate of a ship bound to Australia who will take her and child with him as passengers if the parish will only send them to Newport Monmouthshire where he and his ship now is. The child has no clothes whatsoever except what belongs to this house nor has she any but rags, all that she requires is a suit for the child and one for her self with a few shillings to pay her passage there to Newport, the relieving officer will not supply her without an order from the Commissioners…”
On 9th June 1854 the following item appeared in the ‘Pembrokeshire Herald‘:
“…DISORDERLY PAUPERS.-On the 7th inst., before the Mayor, Thomas Davies, Esq., Mr. Wm. George, the master of the Union Workhouse, charged two women named Ann Symmons and Hannah James, both inmates of the Workhouse, with being drunk and disorderly. The defendants were convicted and ordered to pay 7s. 6d. each, and in default of payment to be imprisoned…”
On July 16th 1855 Thomas Jenkins, 50, widower, the workhouse schoolmaster, married Mary Griffiths of Glanteifon. On 31st August 1855 the following item appeared in the ‘Pembrokeshire Herald‘:
“…DISORDERLY PAUPERS.— On the 28th inst., three young women, named Sarah Davies, Margaret Davies, and Ann Morgan, inmates of Cardigan Union Work-house, were brought before T. Davies and T. Edwards, Esqs., Borough Magistrates, in. custody of P.S. Nicholas Davies, charged by Mr. Wm. George, the master of the Workhouse, with refusing to do work suitable for them, and with disorderly conduct generally. The complaint was fully supported by the witnesses, but as the defendants promised to behave better in future, they were reprimanded, and discharged with a caution…”
William George, Master of the workhouse, was dismissed in 1856 for over-spending. On 27th June 1856 the following appeared in the ‘Pembrokeshire Herald‘:
“…CARDIGAN UNION.—An election for a master of the Union Workhouse, and for a relieving officer of District No. 3, took place at the Board held on the 25th instant. The Board of Guardians was very fully attended. Mr. Sylvanus Dalton, of Bridge End, Glamorganshire, was elected master of the Workhouse, and Mr. Hughes, of Newport, Pembrokeshire, was elected relieving officer…”
In April 1858 a new schoolmaster was being sought. In 1861 Silvanus Dalton, 68, was the Master, and there were sixty inmates. Ann (Mary?) Lundy, 71, was the Matron, and Evan Lloyd, 35, was the schoolmaster. There was also a cook employed. In 1862 Dave Jones was the workhouse school-master – succeeded later by Mr. D. B. Rees of Newchapel. On 19th January 1865 Mary Lundy, former Matron, died aged 75. In January 1865 Silvanus Dalton resigned as Master due to ill-health and died soon afterwards.
In February 1865 Benjamin Lodwig of Pantywylan, Moylegrove, was elected the new Master. In March Mrs. Ann Miles was confirmed as Matron. By August 1865 there had been several accusations and counter-accusations made by Benjain Lodwig and Ann Miles against each other. On 24th May 1866 David Rees, the workhouse schoolmaster, was buried at Cilgerran having died aged 75. In 1865-69 Benjamin Lodwig was the Master of the Workhouse. In 1868 Ann Miles was the Matron and John James was the schoolmaster. On 4th December 1868 Captain Benjamin Lodwig accused the Matron, Mrs. Ann Miles, of drunkenness in the workplace. She accused him of improper conduct. On 1st January 1869 the resignation of both was accepted.
On 13th January 1869 the Union advertised for a new Master and Matron for the Workhouse. The Master would receive £40 per annum, and the Matron £15, plus rations and residence. The Matron was also expected to act as cook. On 19th February 1869 Mr. & Mrs. Stephen Williams were confirmed as the new Master and Matron. In 1869-78 Mr. & Mrs. Stephen & Elizabeth Williams were the Master and Matron. In 1871 Stephen Williams, 47, was the Master, and there were 40 inmates. Mrs. Elizabeth Williams, 56, his wife, was Matron and Miss Gwenllian Lewis was the schoolteacher. On 31st October 1874 the ‘Aberystwyth Observer‘ reported the following:
“…CARDIGAN. PETTY SESSIONS.—On Monday, at the Guildhall, Elizabeth Davies, an inmate or the Cardigan Union Workhouse, was charged before the Mayor, R. D. Jenkins, Esq., T. Davies, Esq., and Dr Thomas. with insubordination and general bad conduct in the house, and also with having refused to work. Sent to the House of Correction tor 21 days’ hard labour…”
In 1875 the Chairman of the Union was John Taubman William James of Plas Pantsaeson, Monington. The treasurer, John Evans, Brecon Old Bank, Cardigan, died in May 1876. On 16th May 1878 the positions of Master and Matron were advertised. On 15th June 1878 Stephen Williams, the Master for 9 years, died aged 54.
In June 1878 Thomas Jones and his wife of Llandygwydd became the new Master and Matron of the workhouse. In 1878-84 Thomas Jones was the Master. On 25th January 1879 the following appeared in the ‘Cardigan & Tivy-Side Advertiser‘:
“…GRANTING TOBACCO TO OLD INMATES. Mr B. Rees, in accordance with a notice given at the last meeting, moved that the resolution prohibiting tobacco to old inmates of the house be rescinded. When the motion to prohibit them the use of tobacco came on, he had voted for it; but having gone through the house in December last, and observed old people smoking whatever came in their way – rags, tea leaves, herbs, &c., he was convinced that a small quantity of tobacco should be given to those who had been used to it before coming into the house. Mr. T Jones seconded the motion. The Chairman: The tobacco will not cost us much, as I understand that Mr. Rees means, by another motion, to recoup the extra expense. Messrs. J Hughes, O. Thomas, and Rev. J. M. Davies supported the motion. Mr. E. Phillips said they had just decided not to introduce foreign meat into the house, and now they were going to introduce foreign weed to the older people. He objected to tax people in order to afford luxuries to the inmates of the house, and tobacco was a luxury…”
In 1880 there were 130 inmates. On 7th February 1880 the ‘Cardigan & Tivy-Side Advertiser‘ reported on a rule that was passed by the Board:
“…Mr. Richard D. Jenkins, in accordance with a notice given a month ago, moved the following amendment to the 9th relief rule, “That no outdoor relief be given to deserted wives, unless it be made clear to the Guardians that the wife is not the cause of such desertion.” He said there were many such cases to be had, and that to enforce the rules in such cases was very hard, and penal in its effect…”
On 8th January 1881 the ‘Cardigan & Tivy-Side Advertiser‘ reported the following:
“…At the fortnightly meeting of this Board, held on Wednesday last, the tender of Mr. Griffith Jones, Greenfield-row, was accepted for building a new dead house, viz., £19. 11s. 8d….A long and warm discussion arose upon a motion submitted by Mr. B. Rees, that the master be instructed to bury those paupers who died in the house, and whose body the relatives did not claim, according to the rite of the religion he professed, as the master did not like to use his discretion in the matter. Mr. Owen proposed an amendment that the master simply carry out the Act of Parliament. The motion and the amendment were not put to the vote, as it was agreed that the question be submitted to the Local Government Board for opinion…”
On 22nd January 1881 the following appeared in the ‘Cardigan & Tivy-Side Advertiser‘:
“…BAD COFFINS. Mr. B. Rees called attention to the bad coffins supplied to the Board by Mr. David Jenkins. He had been told that one had broken the previous day on the road from the house to St. Dogmells. People had reported the case to him on his way to the Board that day. Rev. J. M. Davies: The coffins supplied of late are a disgrace to the Union. The master having been called in stated that the coffin supplied on the previous day was better than some he had seen brought into the house. He had heard that the coffin in question had been broken on the way to the house. The coffins supplied were, as a rule, very poor indeed. He always took particular care to fasten them well to the cart for fear of a breakdown. Chairman: The timber is supposed to be seven-eights of an inch, and if it is good it will hold together. Mr. J. Lewis contended that the price paid for the coffin was too little. After paying for a cart and burial fees, the contractor had next to nothing for his work. Mr. B. Rees: Good coffins are supplied in Newport district for 18s. After some further remarks it was agreed that the contractor be requested to attend at the next meeting of the Board, in order to offer an explanation, otherwise the contract would be cancelled…”
On 3rd February 1881 tenders were sought for providing coffins for the workhouse. On 5th February 1881 the following appeared in the ‘Cardigan Observer‘:
“…DISAFFECTION IN THE NEST. The Chairman said that he had a complaint to bring before the Board, and, as a guardian, he thought that it was his duty to do it. He had received a letter from one of the inmates of the house, named Daniel John (better known as “Daniel the Jockey”), and as it had come into his hands he was of opinion that the best way to deal with the matter would be to read the letter and call in complainant, defendant, and witnesses. Mr. Rees then read the following letter:-
“Workhouse, Jan. 31, 1881
SIR, – Please to report before the Board of Guardians a complaint against John Williams an inmate whether he is authorized to claim a favourite place to sit by the fire and drag aged inmates and abuse them from the place, and another time in violent language he threaten to knock one inmate his brains out and another stab him with a poker his guts out we are in danger of our life he is more like an African tiger than a man in a civilized country the board are requested to settle the said complaints for fear the consequences I have witnesses to the complaints – Your obdnt. servt., DANIEL JOHN.”
“To Mr. Benjamin Rees, Guardian.”
The inmates having been summoned to the board-room and questioned, the witnesses referred to in the letter, denied all knowledge of the dispute in question. Some merriment was created at the expense of complainant and witnesses. The master said that he knew nothing of the affair, no one having complained to him about it. After a caution had been administered by the Chairman, the inmates were dismissed…”
On 19th February 1881 the following appeared in the ‘Cardigan Observer‘:
“…MORE COMFORTS FOR THE INMATES. Mr. Brenchley said that when he was going through the house, the master called his attention to the state of the bedrooms used by the old people and children, six in number. During the late severe weather the inmates had to get ut of bed and walk about the room in order to keep themselves warm. If the rooms were half-ceiled they would prove far more comfortable. Mr. Thomas suggested that if boards were used, it would be cheaper than laths and plaster. Rev. J. M. Davies: It would be preferable to do it in plaster…”
In 1881 Thomas Jones, 53, was the Master; Martha Jones, 49, his wife, was Matron; Ann Davies, 37, was the Assistant Matron and Sarah Llewelyn, 40, was the cook and servant for the workhouse, where there were 48 inmates. On 14th July 1882 Mr. J. Thomas of Llechryd supplied plans for a new female ward. On 3rd November 1883 the following appeared in the ‘Cardigan Observer‘:
“…BOROUGH PETTY SESSIONS. ACTING THE GENTLEMAN. On Monday, before Messrs. R. E. Rees (mayor), and Lewis Evans, an inmate of the Workhouse, named Evan Lloyd, was charged with neglecting to maintain himself, he being healthy and capable of working. Mr. Davi Davies, who appeared for the Guardians, called Mr. Thos. Jones, master of the union workhouse, who said that he had acted under an order signed by the chairman of the board, and counter-signed by the clerk. Defendant entered the workhouse on the 31st August, and was still in the house. He was 64 years old, and without any infirmity. Defendant pleaded inability to obtain anything to do, and that he had no clothes or shoes to go out of the house to seek work. The case was adjourned for a fortnight so that a suit of clothes might be provided him by the guardians. Defendant: I will try to get work; but I cannot do all kind of work. Town clerk: You are much more capable to work than I am. You have better legs, feet and hands than I have. If I would not work I should starve. The Mayor: It will not do for you to act the gentleman on the back of the ratepayers. As long as you are capable you must work. If you go back to the workhouse after being supplied with clothes, you will not be so leniently dealt with as at present…”
On 23rd November 1883 tenders were sought for erecting Stone Breaking Cells. Tramp cells were added in 1884. On 28th February 1885 tenders were sought for building a new Infectious Ward. The successful one was that of Mr. Griffith Jones, Greenfield-row. Mr. Meyler was the architect. On 20th June 1885 the following appeared in the ‘Cardigan Observer‘:
“…The question of the use of intoxicants in the house having been brought on, Dr. Phillips explained that although the quantity of drink allowed might appear large, the workhouse was more an infirmary or hospital than a workhouse, and old and decrepid people were sent there to end their days. The nurse also go half-a-pint of porter twice a day. It was eventually resolved, after a long discussion, that the supply of intoxicants should be continued, but that special care should be used in administering them…”
On 8th January 1887 the ‘Cardigan Observer‘ reported on the Christmas Dinner at the Workhouse:
“…DINNER AT THE WORKHOUSE. This annual treat, which was supplied this year through the generosity of Mr. Brigstocke, the much respected chairman of the Board of Guardians, was much appreciated by the inmates, who numbered 78. It consisted of roast beef and plum-pudding and beer; a quantity of tobacco, oranges, and other things were also supplied. The beef was good and plentiful, the pudding was well-made and thoroughly enjoyed. The entrance hall, boardroom, and dining-room were very nicely decorated for the occasion, under the superintendence of the master and matron. In the after dinner speeches, the inmates expressed their warmest thanks to the kind donor, to the master and matron for the extra duties they had undertaken, and to Dr. Phillips for his kindness at all times to them. Mrs. Phillips, Priory-street, and another lady, sent a Christmas card to each of the inmates on that day. The children added a great deal to the pleasures of the afternoon by singing several songs…”
In April 1887 William Griffith George resigned as Clerk due to ill health. David Davies, his son-in-law, applied for the post. In 1887-1903 David Davies was the Clerk to the Guardians. In 1888 there were 135 inmates. In February 1889 the Board advertised the positions of Master and Matron.
On 6th March 1889 Evan Davies and his wife became the new Master and Matron. On 7th November 1889 Evan Davies, Master, accused Eliza Reynolds, an inmate hailing from Newport, of refusing to work or obey orders. She was sentenced to 21 days’ hard labour in Gaol. On 17th October 1890 tenders were sought for erecting new ceilings and dormitories. At about that time Denis Williams of Cardigan was the Assistant Relieving Officer. In 1891 Evan Davies, 31, was the Master; Elizabeth Evans, 29, was the Matron and Anna M. Hughes, 56, was the Assistant Matron. There were 53 resident inmates. On 13th May 1891 the Board advertised seeking tenders for repairs at the Workhouse. On 23rd January 1892 tenders were sought from ship owners for delivering culm to the workhouse. On 27th May 1892 it was noted that Mrs. D. G. Davies of Castle Green, Cardigan, was supplying old newspapers weekly for the inmates. In June 1892 the positions of Master and Matron were advertised. The Master’s annual wage was £25 and the Matron’s £15. On 11th July 1893 Dr. James W Stephens of Glanderry, Cilgerran, offered his services as Officer of Health for District One of the Cardigan Union.
In 1893-95 Hugh Robert Williams was the Master. On 12th January 1894 the following appeared in the ‘Cardigan Observer‘:
“… A FOX – At a special borough petty sessions on Thursday afternoon a tramp named Thomas Fox, from Sheffield, was charged by Mr. Williams, master of the Cardigan Union Workhouse, with destroying his own clothes that morning, in the casual ward of the Workhouse. Sent to Carmarthen Gaol for 14 days hard labour…”
In July 1895 Mr. & Mrs. Williams, the Master and Matron, moved to Crickhowell Workhouse. In 1895 Daniel Davies became the Master. On 27th July 1895 the following appeared in the ‘Cardigan & Tivy-Side Advertiser‘:
“…BOROUGH PETTY SESSIONS. SATURDAY. Before Messrs. W. Picton and D. O. Jones.
Refractory Boys. – Frederick William Sharpe and John Nicholas Thomas, inmates of the workhouse, were brought up in custody, and charged by David Davies, master of the house, with absconding from the Cardigan Union Workhouse with the workhouse clothes, on the 17th inst. Mr. D. Davies, clerk of the guardians, appeared to prosecute. – The evidence went to show that the two boys had been locked up by the master in the receiving ward about 8.15 a. m. On the 17th inst., so as to keep them safe by the meeting of the board, which was to be held that day at 11 o’clock. When the board was sitting, he went to fetch the defendants, but found they had escaped through a zinc-panel; part of the door which was locked. They were clad in clothing belonging to the Union. John Nicholas Thomas was aged 10, and Frederick William Sharpe aged 13 years. P. C. Joseph Harries apprehended the two boys at Poppit, and locked them up in Cardigan police station. It was ordered that the defendant Sharpe be sent to a Reformatory for a period of three years and that Thomas be taken to the Cardigan police station, and there privately whipped with six strokes of a birch rod by P. C. Thomas E. Young in the presence of P. S. Denis Williams…”
In December 1895 the Matron, Ann Davies, had to step down due to a “lung affection”. The Master was, to the regret of the Board, also called upon to resign. Mrs. Statton was taken on as a temporary Assistant Matron. On 16th February 1896 Ann Davies, wife of Daniel Davies of Pantygrwndy, Llantood, died aged 29. She was the Matron of the Workhouse. On 11th March 1896 the positions of Master & Matron were advertised. On 25th March 1896 Captain & Mrs. George Richards became the Master & Matron and served as such in 1896-1906. On 1st August 1896 Mr. W. Thomas Jones, late Master of the Workhouse, died at the Castle Inn, Castle Street. In December 1896 the amount of stone that tramps needed to break up daily in return for their bed and board was increased from 2cwts to 3cwts. On 30th January 1897 the following report appeared in the “Cardigan & Tivy-Side Advertiser‘:
“…THE SCALDING ACCIDENT AT THE WORKHOUSE. THE INQUEST. An inquest was held at the Union Workhouse, on Friday last, before Mr. Ivor Evans, coroner, touching the death of a child named Rachel Ann Davies, aged 2 years and 7 months, daughter of Joyce Davies, an inmate of the Workhouse, who died on the previous Wednesday afternoon from the effects of scalding. Joyce Davies stated that the deceased child was her daughter, and was two years of age last May. On Saturday witness was in the front washing the floor, and was called in. When she entered the little girl’s room she found deceased on the settle scalded. She helped to attend to the child. The doctor was fetched, and he came in about half-an-hour. The child did not get better, and died about 2 p. m. on Wednesday, the 20th inst. She was present when the child died.
Ellen John stated that she was an inmate of the Workhouse, and had been separated from her husband. On Saturday she went to the girls’ day room to fetch a bucket of water she had placed on the fire to wash the floor of the room. The water was hot, but not boiling. There were two little girls in the room, and deceased was being carried by another little girl. She placed the bucket of water on the middle of the floor, and went to arrange the fire. She heard the sound of the bucket falling, and looked round, when she saw deceased on the floor as well as the bucket, and the water all over the floor. The deceased was crying, and she sent one of the little girls to fetch the mother. She raised the child on the settle. She saw another woman taking the child’s clothes off, and noticed that she was scalded in the lower part of her body.
Margaret Richards stated she was the matron of the Workhouse, and wife of Capt. G Richards, the master. The deceased and her mother, Joyce Davies, were inmates of the Workhouse. She remembered that on the 16th inst. She was in the laundry, and was called and told that a little girl had been scalded. On examination she found that the child had been scalded on the lower part of the body, and was present when the doctor dressed deceased. The skin was peeling off. The doctor was in attendance three times. Under the directions of the doctor she treated the wounds in his absence. The deceased was sensible up to her death, but seemed to get weaker. She died on Wednesday, the 20th inst., about 2 p. m. A verdict of “Died from the effects of scalds, accidentally received,” was returned…”
On 20th February 1897 the following appeared in the ‘Cardigan & Tivy-Side Advertiser‘:
“…Tearing His Clothes – A tramp named William Taylor, of Wolverhampton, was brought up in custody of P. S. Williams, and charged by Capt. George Richards, master of the Workhouse, with destroying his own shirt and trousers in the casual ward that morning. Defendant pleaded guilty, and was committed for one month’s hard labour…”
In December 1897 John Foster of Gateshead, a pauper here, was sentenced to a month’s hard labour for destroying his bedclothes. On 28th January 1898 tenders were sought for repairs and renovations to the Women’s Receiving Ward. In 1898 Sir Edward Webley-Parry-Pryse gave a gift of ten rabbits to the workhouse. In 1899 inmates had their beer allowances stopped at Christmas due to general misbehaviour.
In 1899-1906 Elizabeth John was the Nurse. In 1901 the following persons lived here: George Richards, 57, Master (b. Cardigan); Margaret Richards, 58, his wife, Matron (b. St. Dogmaels); Elizabeth John, 41, nurse (b. St. Dogmaels); Margaret Davies, 22, industrial upholsterer (b. Nevern), plus the various inmates. In August 1901 the Guardians were seeking to employ an Assistant Matron. The Abstract of Accounts and Paupers List from 1901 shows a marked decline in use of the workhouse between 1886 and 1901, but the property was still housing some 467 persons per annum. In January 1903 tenders were sought for installing baths into the Men’s and Women’s Receiving Wards, and opening up doors from those wards into the yard, and for boarding the floor and ceiling of the Men’s Receiving Ward and make a w. c. in the Men’s Yard. In 1904 Captain George Richards, Master, was a Warden of St. Thomas’ Church. On 17th March 1905 tenders were sought for building extensions. In May 1906 Captain George Richards resigned as Master because of his failing eyesight. Thomas Davies and his wife were then elected the new Master and Matron.
On 20th December 1907 there were complaints about the uncivilised conditions under Thomas Davies, the Master. If inmates refused, or were unable to break up four hundredweight of stone per day, they faced fourteen days’ hard labour in Carmarthen Gaol. On 22nd July 1908 Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Davies resigned as the Master and Matron. Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Nugent were appointed Master and Matron in July.
In 1908-32 Thomas Nugent was the Master of the Workhouse. On 1st September 1908 James Miles Nugent, son of Thomas Nugent, died aged 8. On 11th May 1909 Catherine Davies died here aged 81. She had once lived at the ‘Jolly Sailor’ inn, Short Row, Cardigan. In September 1909 the Inspector recommended that the children be removed from the Workhouse as soon as possible – not because of their treatment, which seemed to him very good, but because of the stigma attached to workhouse children. On January 1st 1911 there were 387 paupers supported by the Union. In April 1911 Rev. John Williams, Minister of Bethania Baptist Chapel, Cardigan, was elected Chairman of the Cardigan Union and was re-elected every year until; his death in 1929. On January 1st 1912 there were 311 paupers supported by the Union. In June 1912 Thomas Nugent applied for an increase in salary, and was given a raise of £7. In September 1912 tenders were sought for repairs to the water troughs. In July 1913 an inmate absconded wearing workhouse clothes. He was found between Cenarth and Newcastle Emlyn. The man was let off with a warning. On 26th November 1915 tenders were being sought for conducting repairs including new concrete floors and wood blocks for the Men’s Day Room and passage and the Women’s Day Room and passage. The architect was John Teifion James Williams of Bryngogarth, Napier Street, Cardigan. In August 1920 a tramp at the workhouse tore his own clothes, and was sent to prison to serve 14 days hard labour. On 3rd
December 1920 cases of typhoid were reported at the workhouse in the ‘Cardigan & Tivy-Side Advertiser‘:
“…The Rev. George Hughes, Cardigan, conducted Divine Service at the house on November 9th. Since that date the M. O. H. had ordered no service to be held owing to typhoid fever having broken out in the house. In reply to a question the master said there were 11 cases of typhoid in the house at present. A trained nurse had been engaged. It was decided to ask for a report from the Medical Officer for health as to the origin of the outbreak. In reply to the Rev. D. M. Jones, the master said that the cases were mostly mild ones. Mr. Asa Evans George asked if it was not possible to get the cases removed to the Isolation Hospital at Eglwyswrw. The Master said the cases were now convalescent, but he would like it if the cases were removed as it was dangerous…”
In January 1921 cases of typhoid were reported at the workhouse. In January 1921 the Ministry of Health requested the removal of children aged between 3 and 16 from the house and Glantivy was considered for acquisition and use as a children’s home. In July 1921 the nurse, Mary John, resigned. There were protests from the Master and Matron later in the year when their salaries were reduced by £5 per annum. In June 1922 it was again strongly suggested by an Inspector that the workhouse children should be removed forthwith. Guardian Thomas Williams protested that:
“…the workhouse could not be compared with workhouses in industrial areas. This was more of a cottage hospital…”
On 23rd June 1922 the following appeared in the ‘Cardigan & Tivy-Side Advertiser‘:
“…THE WORKHOUSE TAINT. On his recent visit to Cardigan, one of the officers of the Ministry of Health drew the attention of the Board of Guardians to the desirability of providing a home for the children who are now being accommodated at the Workhouse. It appears that the “population” of the institution includes 16 boys and 3 girls, and the Guardians were urged to remove them without delay to a Children’s Home, where they would be away from the taint of pauperism. This suggestion is in accord with the policy adopted by the Ministry of recent years in connection with the administration of the Poor Law. It represents a more humane view of the responsibility of the local authorities towards children who, through no fault of their own, have become a charge upon the community. We have travelled far since the days of “Oliver Twist,” when these hapless waifs and strays were the victims of brutal and heartless Bumbledom. The demand is now made that every child should be given a chance to make his way in the world and that as far as possible he should be brought up in a “home” atmosphere and not that of a public institution. Animated by this admirable spirit, the Ministry are now calling upon the Cardigan Guardians to establish a Children’s Home, such as are to be found in most of the large towns to-day. Curiously enough, however, the problem of the children is presented in another aspect at Narberth. There some of the Guardians are declaiming against the “costly luxury” of the Home and propose that the children should be brought back to the Workhouse – “a terrible barrack-like place,” according to the testimony of the Inspector. We would advise these reactionary Guardians to think a little less of pounds shillings and pence, and a little more of the welfare of the children…”
In March 1923 Edward Brocklebank Evans of the firm ‘George, Davies & Evans’ of Cardigan, applied for the post of Clerk to the Board of Guardians. On 27th June 1924 the provision of electricity here was being considered. In May 1925 an Inspector condemned the Casual Wards as the worst in Wales. On 18th July 1927 questions were raised in Parliament by Col. Day about children under 14 years of age residing here. On 20th January 1928 the Guardians considered the purchase of Glantivy for use as a children’s home. On 6th July 1928 they announced that the Board of Guardians would be disbanded by April 1st 1930. In July 1929 tenders were sought for additions to the laundry and new flooring for the women’s and children’s wards. On 21st November 1929 the Casual Wards were described as “…not fit for a pig…” by the Inspector of Health. Heating for the Casual Wards was provided in December 1929. The Cardigan Board of Guardians ceased to exist on 1st April 1930. On 19th December 1930, the following report appeared in the ‘Cardigan & Tivy-Side Advertiser‘:
“…WORST IN WALES. POOR-LAW INSPECTOR AND CARDIGAN CASUAL WARDS. “GET A HUSTLE ON” WITH REGARDS TO CHILDREN’S HOMES.THE MINISTER INSISTS”. Mr. Owen Evans, Poor-law Inspector under the Ministry of Health, attended a meeting of the Joint Management Committee held at Albro Castle on Monday, and had some very nasty things to say about the inaction of the Committee with regard to the removal of the children from the institution to Glantivy, and the lack of proper accommodation for casuals. Mr. John Evans, J. P., Castle Green, presided, and others present were Mrs. Lewis, Llanfairnantgwyn; Ald. Richard Evans, O.B.E., J.P., Brynhyfryd; Ald. Urias Richards, J.P., Cilgerran; the Rev. E. J. Davies, Bangor Teifi; Messrs. David James, Llwyndyrys; and J. M. Philipps, Treriffith, with the clerk (Mr. E. B. Evans) and the master (Mr. T. Nugent).
“THE MINISTER INSISTS.” Mr. Owen Evans, addressing the meeting, said he had two things to allude to – the removal of the children from the institution to the children’s home at Glantivy, and the need for accommodation for casuals. With regard to the former he had to say that Cardigan was the only institution in the country where the children had not been removed from the workhouse in accordance with the regulations. It was now nine months since the County Council took over the duties of the Guardians, and the Ministry wanted to know why the children had not been removed, although the Guardians had purchased a house for the purpose. The children would have to be removed and they must do it soon. The Minister insisted on that. The property had been bought and he did not know what the cause of the delay was.
WORST IN WALES. With regards to the casual wards, Mr. Evans continued, he had been carrying out a survey for the last two months throughout Wales and Monmouthshire, and he had found that the St. Dogmaels institution was the worst in the area with regard to casual wards. They had only a lean-to shed with a cobble stone floor, and only a wooden shelf on which the casuals could sleep at night. They had now put in a system of heating, but it was not hygienic. To have men sleeping in the same place where they performed their task of breaking stone was inhuman. He confirmed casual was not what they were concerned with mainly, but the unemployed who were going about the country, and it was essential that these men should have some measure of comfort and cleanliness. Under the new Order casuals had to be kept in the institution for two nights. They were to be provided with a warm bath as soon as they were admitted, a clean shirt, towels and night clothes to sleep in. The casuals would be required to do an 8-hours task, such as breaking firewood, gardening, etc., but stone-breaking would not be allowed. Each man’s clothing must be disinfected (they had no fumigator at St. Dogmaels), not only for the sake of the men themselves but for the sake of the community at large. The only condition upon which men could be discharged after one night was when he had a ticket showing he was seeking work. Better food would have to be provided…”
On 29th October 1931 the Cardiganshire Public Assistance Committee decided to close the workhouse. In March 1932 Mrs. Mary Anne Selby died – she had been a laundry maid here for five years. In September 1932 Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Nugent retired after 25 years as Master and Matron of the Poor Law Institution owing to ill-health. They were succeeded by Thomas J. Philpin and Mary Philpin, his wife, who were Master and Matron in 1932-34. A report stated that Pembrokeshire was the only Public Assistance Committee in Wales housing children in such an establishment, and requested that they should be removed to children’s homes. On 20th January 1933 the Ministry of Health announced that they wanted the Albro Castle Poor Law Institution closed and the children removed. The children were duly removed on 22nd February 1933. In February 1933 Thomas J. Philpin, Master, reported that there were 64 inmates that month; and that there had been 3 admissions; 4 discharges; and 89 casuals relieved. On 11th May 1933 the following report appeared in the ‘Pembrokeshire Telegraph‘:
“…A “SCATHING” REPORT. MINISTRY AND ST. DOGMAELS INSTITUTION. PATIENTS ‘UNCARED FOR’ APPEARANCE. A report by a Ministry of Health Inspector (Miss E. Humphreys-Roberts) on the St. Dogmaels Poor Law Institution, which was described as “scathing”, will be considered by the Institution Committee at a special meeting at St. Dogmaels this Thursday. Judging by the severe wording of the report the Committee will have no small task to reply to all the criticisms of the Inspector. Extracts from the report read:
“Sick Wards. – Both the male and female sick wards are unsuitable for the nursing of the sick. Sanitary annexes are unsatisfactory, heating in the male wards inadequate, food has to be carried across the yard to both wards. Female and male wards on opposite sides of the yard. The nurse sleeps in the body of the house right away from the sick wards. The communicating bells were all out of order. One female bedfast patient had fallen out of bed, had a black eye and two bruises on her body, the convalescent patients managed as best they could until the nurse was found. The bathroom for female sick and house patients is right away from both the sick wards and day room, most of the sick females are blanket-bathed, the house inmates being bathed in a tub in the day-room, water for such bathing being carried from the kitchen right across the yard. Lighting is by means of oil lamps everywhere. The nurse was away for the day at the tie of my visit. The male ward was untidy, floor dirty, and the patients presenting a most uncared for appearance.
The maternity ward was unoccupied. This ward consists of two lath bedsteads. I was informed that a mattress was brought in when required. It is not fitted up in any way. A lavatory is available, but no bathroom. Food has to be carried across the yard. Nursery occupied by four children, all in wicker cots, they were being kept in bed on account of colds. One infants was breast fed. They were supervised by one of the mothers. This room was untidy and not too clean, the children, however, appeared well cared for. Children’s block occupied by 17 children. ******* *****, aged 16, chargeable to Pembrokeshire, a cripple, doubly incontinent, sat in a chair in his room all day long. He had been sent here as a temporary measure by the Pembrokeshire Medical Officer of Health. This boy is obviously a hospital case, needing constant nursing attention. It is not right that he should be in the children’s day and dining room in his condition. His immediate removal to the Pembroke Hospital is urged.
Sick cases should be removed from this Institution to Aberystwyth, if chargeable to Cardiganshire, and to Pembroke if chargeable to that county. Only emergency maternity cases should be taken. No infants or children should be kept here. Arrangements should be made to remove the infants chargeable to Pembrokeshire to one of the Institutions in that county, those chargeable to Cardiganshire transferred to Aberystwyth. (Signed) E. HUMPHREYS-ROBERTS. 14/2/33…”
The provision of electricity was proposed on 22nd September 1933. On 23rd January 1934 the Pembrokeshire Public Assistance Committee elected to notify Cardiganshire County Council of their intention to terminate their joint arrangements with regards to the Institution. On 26th October 1934 it was suggested that the staff should be dismissed the following March. On 9th November 1934 it was announced that Thomas J. Philpin had resigned. Thomas J. Philpin was succeeded as the Master of the establishment by Mr. T. D. Adams and his wife at the end of that month. On 29th March 1935 the following report appeared in the ‘Cardigan & Tivy-Side Advertiser‘:
“…PATHETIC SCENE. PEMBROKESHIRE INMATES REMOVED FROM ALBRO CASTLE. POOR OLD PEOPLE IN TEARS. There was a pathetic scene at Albro Castle – the Cardigan Poor Law Institution – on Thursday morning, when twelve Pembrokeshire inmates, all of them old people, were removed on a bus in accordance with the decision of the Pembrokeshire Public Assistance Committee. Six of them were taken to Narberth, four to Haverfordwest, and two to Pembroke. When the bus arrived the poor old people wept bitterly and difficulty was experienced in getting them on the bus. The inmates had previously been under the impression that they would all be removed to the same institution – Haverfordwest – and the knowledge which they received on Thursday morning that they would be put in separate places without choice made their sad plight worse. Originally 18 inmates were to be removed, but four of their number refused to be removed to other institutions. One man, an old age pensioner, found temporary lodgings at St. Dogmaels pending arrangements to return to his native village. A younger man, born a cripple and deformed has gone to his mother, who is in poor circumstances, at St. Dogmaels. An old man, past work, has gone to a farm on service, whilst an old lady who has been in the institution for 27 years an invalid has been given a home by her son. Meanwhile there are about 18 Cardiganshire inmates at the institution, and no decision has yet been come to regarding their removal to other institutions. A sub-committee of the Cardiganshire body met at the Institution on Monday and they will make a recommendation to the Public Assistance Committee at their next meeting. Meanwhile the staff at the Institution are under notice to leave at the end of the month but they have been instructed to carry on with their duties until the decision of the Public Assistance Committee is made…”
The establishment was scheduled to close on 19th April 1935. On 12th April 1935 the Cardiganshire Public Assistance Committee elected to keep the establishment operational until the end of the summer. It finally closed on 7th October 1935, except for the casual wards. On 11th October 1935 the following appeared in the ‘Cardigan & Tivy-Side Advertiser‘:
“…Paupers Removed. – There were pathetic scenes at the St. Dogmaels Poor Law Institution on Monday of last week when the last batch of inmates left the Institution, which is now closed as a Poor Law Institution. The Pembrokeshire inmates had previously been removed, and on Monday the 16 Cardiganshire inmates were removed to the Aberystwyth and Lampeter Institutions…”
The casual wards were preparing for closure on 18th October. It was planned to put the property on the market soon afterwards. The Institution was completely closed down on 9th November 1935.
The sale of the property was being considered on 3rd October 1936. By 23rd July 1937 the grounds were becoming overgrown. The auction of the property was held on 30th July 1937, but no buyer was found. On 22nd September 1937 there was a sale of equipment and contents. On 24th September 1937 the property passed to Pembrokeshire County Council who considered using it as an isolation hospital. On 8th April 1938 disposal was deferred for 12 months. On 13th October 1939 the use of the property as an isolation hospital was considered. On August 22nd 1942 Bernard Walker, 25, a Royal Marine living here, married Olive Mary Barber of St Dogmaels. U. S. troops were stationed here from January to June 6, 1944. The 110th Ordnance Company were stationed here, but had to go to Cardigan County Secondary School for washing facilities. In September 1944 the W. V. S. were based here, dealing with evacuee children amongst other matters. In February 1946 the Board of Health were preparing to dispose of the property. It was sold in 1948.
On 18th June 1948 Cardigan Borough Council considered requisitioning the building for use as flats. On 26th March 1949 the 40-room property was sold by auction to Eric Street of Bryngwyn. He lived here in 1949. By 1953 the flats were generally considered as substandard. On 29th May 1953 the property, comprising 20 flats, was advertised for sale. On 7th July 1956 there were flats advertised to let here. On 15th February 1957 three flats here were declared “unfit for human habitation”, and by that June, there were seven. On 8th February 1958 Cardigan Borough Council declined the offer to purchase back the property. On 10th October 1958 it was revealed that the building was to be evacuated and converted into workshops. It was sold for that purpose in December to Mr. J. P. Crofts.
On 5th June 1959 the property was being rented out as workshops. In October 1961 Jack Crofts, son of Mr. & Mrs. Crofts of Albro Castle, was married. By 1963, part of the property was a guest house. In 1971 Gerwyn & Nesta Richards kept the guest house. In 1971 Mr. & Mrs. Newland bought the property. In August 1977 a three-day exhibition of ‘St Dogmaels Past & Present’ was held here by permission of the owner. In 1986 a Holistic Healing Centre opened here. In 1992 the former workhouse became a Grade II* listed building. On 5th September 1996 the hope was expressed that the National Trust might purchase the property. The proposals were rejected on 16th April 1997. It remains private property, although several attractive holiday accommodation units may be rented here.
The property was described by CADW in 1992:
“…1839-40 former Cardigan Union Workhouse, by William Owen of Haverfordwest, probably to plans by G Wilkinson of Oxford, architect to the Poor Law Commissioners. Built for £3,250 for poor of 25 parishes in Cardiganshire and Pembrokeshire. There were some 130 inmates in the 1870’s.
Extensive grouping of buildings designed as three parallel ranges connected by a central spine range, giving 4 open ended courtyards all overlooked by a single observation room at centre intersection, which has windows in canted angles. Two storeys, brown rubble stone with roofs of small slates and an extensive series of red brick Tudor style chimneys. Windows are long, small-paned casement pairs, with top-lights to ground floor, and with cambered cut stone voussoirs, bevelled reveals and slate sills. Front range is more formal, in blue lias ashlar, 2-storey, 6-window main range with single storey 3-window wings. Main range has centre two bays projected with 2 gables and incised cross loops in gables. Raised band and high plinth. Ground floor centre has two Tudor-arched doorways with ledged doors and one window between. Single storey wings have narrow single-light windows and plain doors.
Two courtyards behind front range are separated by 5-window spine range, canted one-window angles then 6-window wings. On east end of east wing are unaltered 1884 vagrant cells still with grading grilles and chutes for breaking stone. The two courtyards behind centre range were divided by a single storey bakehouse range (roofless 1991) connecting to rear range, part original, the short 2-storey centre range and the single storey east wing, part late C19 or early C20, the 2-storey west wing.
Rooms within principal area are large, lit from both sides, with stone access stairs and the whole is remarkably little altered from its original design. Graded II* as one of the least altered workhouses in Wales…”
Tithe Map of St. Dogmaels 1838
Census Returns 1841; 1851; 1861; 1871; 1881; 1891; 1901
Pigot’s Directory of South Wales 1844
Pembrokeshire Herald 1845; 1847-48; 1854-56
Slater’s Directory 1850; 1868
Hunt’s Directory 1850
St Dogmaels Parish Register – Marriages 1837-1974
Letter to the Guardians from William Griffith George, clerk 25/11/1858
The Welshman 1865
The History of Cilgerran, J Roland Phillips 1867
Cardigan &Tivy-Side Advertiser 1868-69; 1878; 1883; 1889; 1892-1909; 1911-39; 1944; 1946; 1948-49; 1951; 1953; 1956-59; 1961; 1977-78; 1996-97
Aberystwyth Observer 1874
Kelly’s Directory of South Wales 1875; 1884; 1895; 1914; 1926
Letter – Rees Nicholas to the Board of Guardians 24/05/1876
The Cardigan Observer 1877; 1879-92; 1895-96
Letter – Meeting Agenda, Wm. Griffith George 17/10/1883
Poster – Tenders for Building an Infectious Ward, Cardigan Union Workhouse 28/02/1885
List of the Board of Guardians, Cardigan Union 28/04/1885
Letter from David Davies to the Guardians 06/04/1887
Vagrant’s Admission Ticket – Cardigan Union Workhouse c.1890
Poster – Tenders for Repairs, Cardigan Union Workhouse 13/05/1891
Poster – To Ship Owners…Culm for Cardigan Union Workhouse 23/01/1892
Occupiers List of Voters – St. Dogmaels, 30/07/1894
Letter – Meeting Notice, D Davies 04/04/1895
Letter – Valuation Lists, Cardigan Union, D Davies 07/05/1901
Abstract of Accounts – Cardigan Union 02/08/1901
Relief Acknowledgement – Cardigan Union 23/02/1903
Vagrants’ Admission Ticket – Cardigan Union Workhouse 24/03/1903
Letter – Notice of Meeting, Cardigan Union, D Davies 06/05/1903
Table of Meetings – Cardigan Union, David Davies 08/05/1903
Vagrants’ Admission Ticket – Cardigan Union Workhouse 24/06/1905
Paupers’ List, Cardigan Board of Guardians 1912
Table of Meetings – Cardigan Union, David Davies 02/05/1912
Meeting Notice – Cardigan Union, D Davies 06/05/1912
Abstract of Accounts – Cardigan Union 1912
Notice of Meeting – St. Dogmaels Rural District Council, D Davies 07/12/1912
Annual Report – Tabernacl C M Chapel, Cardigan 1924
Bethania, R Edwards, 1947
Sale Particulars – Albro Castle, Hugh Ladd 26/03/1949
Electoral Register – Cardigan 1955; 1998
The Cardigan Guide 1963
Annual Report – Capel Degwel, St Dogmaels 1974
St. Dogmaels – Buildings of Architectural or Historic Interest. CADW 1992
Leaflet – Albro Castle Holistic Health & Education Centre.
Monumental Inscriptions – St. Dogmaels cemetery
The Phone Book 2003.
St. Dogmaels Uncovered, Glen K Johnson 2007
© Glen K Johnson 19/06/2013.