Dover Union (River Union)

The first Board meeting of the Guardians of the Dover Union took place in May 1835 under the name of the River Union which was officially amended in 12 May 1837 to the Dover Union. The Union continued to be run by the Guardians until 1 April 1930 when its responsibilities were transferred under the Local Government Act of 1929 to Kent County Council. Under this new system the parishes which comprised the old Dover Union became part of the Dover and Eastry Area under the control of the Kent County Council Public Assistance Committee.

Map - Dover Union
PARISHES WITHIN UNION
  • Alkham
  • Buckland near Dover
  • Capel le Ferne
  • Charlton near Dover
  • Coldred
  • Denton next Elham
  • Dover Castle Liberties
  • East Cliffe
  • East Langdon
  • Ewell
  • Guston
  • Hougham
  • Lydden
  • Oxney
  • Poulton
  • Ringwould
  • River
  • St James the Apostle (Dover)
  • St Margaret-at-Cliffe
  • St Mary the Virgin (Dover)
  • Sibertswold or Shepherdswell
  • West Cliffe
  • West Langdon
  • Whitfield
  • Wootton

THE WORKHOUSE

The parish poorhouses continued to be used, together with the old River Union Workhouse, until the new Union Workhouse was built at Buckland near Dover with the first inmates being removed to the new Workhouse in March 1836.

In December 1916 the children’s quarters at the Workhouse were taken over the Military and the children removed to Brighton Union.

The workhouse buildings were taken over by Kent County Council in 1930 and became known as the Dover Public Assistance Institution. At a later date it was also known as the County Hospital, Dover and Buckland Hospital.
The remaining buildings are now privately owned.

BURIAL OF INMATES DYING IN THE WORKHOUSE

The normal practice for persons dying in the Workhouse was for them to be removed to their parish of settlement (if within the Union) for burial or in the parish where the Workhouse was situated, which for the Dover Union was Buckland. If a person died in an institution which was situated out of the Union’s area they were normally buried in the parish of that institution.

Following the Burial Acts of 1852-1857 burials may also have taken place at a cemetery built and operated by the local Burial Board.

From 1 January 1920 the address recorded on death certificates for those persons dying in the workhouse was entered as “200 Union Road, Dover”.

BAPTISM OF CHILDREN BORN IN THE WORKHOUSE

The Baptism of children born in the Union Workhouse would normally only take place under exceptional circumstances unless the licence given to the Chaplain of the Workhouse included permission to carry out baptisms in the Workhouse Chapel. Baptisms could also take place in the parish church closest to the Workhouse, in this case Buckland, or the parish of settlement.

From 1 January 1905 the address recorded on the birth certificates of children born in the Workhouse was entered as “No 75, Union Road, Dover”. From 1 January 1920 the address was recorded “200 Union Road, Dover”.

CHILDREN

Education
The children were educated in the Workhouse by a Schoolmaster and Schoolmistress until June 1892 when the girls were sent to the local schools, followed by the boys in March 1895.
Accommodation
From August 1910 orphaned and deserted children were boarded out with foster parents where possible.
From December 1916 the children were sent to Warren Farm Schools belonging to the Brighton Union, following the Military Occupation of the children’s quarters at the Workhouse.

From May 1920 the children were removed from the Dover Workhouse and sent to the Cottage Homes run by the Medway Union.

Children were also sent to other specialist institutions run by other Unions, charities or private individuals.

INMATES RECEIVED FROM OTHER UNION WORKHOUSES

INMATES SENT TO OTHER UNION WORKHOUSES

Following the occupation by the Children’s quarters by the Military the children were removed from the Dover Workhouse in December 1916 and sent to the Warren Farm Schools run by the Brighton Union.

From May 1920 children were sent to the Cottage Homes run by the Medway Union.

LOCATION OF SURVIVING UNION RECORDS

Kent History and Library Centre, Maidstone, Kent

DOCUMENTS WHICH HAVE BEEN TRANSCRIBED

Admission and Discharge Registers – 1835 to 1841
Minutes of the Board of Guardians – 1835 to 1841
Correspondence Out Letters – 1835 to 1841
Correspondence In Letters – 1835 to 1841

– SEE “LIST OF SURNAMES”