East Ashford Union

The first Board meeting of the Guardians of the East Ashford Union took place in June 1835 and 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 East Ashford Union became part of the Ashford and District Area under the control of the Kent County Council Public Assistance Committee.

Map - East Ashford Union
PARISHES WITHIN UNION
  • Aldington
  • Bilsington
  • Bircholt
  • Bonnington
  • Boughton Aluph
  • Brabourne
  • Brook
  • Challock
  • Chilham
  • Crundale
  • Eastwell
  • Godmersham
  • Hastingleigh
  • Hinxhill
  • Hurst
  • Kennington
  • Mersham
  • Molash
  • Orlestone
  • Ruckinge
  • Sevington
  • Smeeth
  • Warehorne
  • Willesborough
  • Wye

THE WORKHOUSE

The parish poorhouses continued to be used until the new Union Workhouse was built at Willesborough with the first inmates being admitted to the new Workhouse in April 1836.

The workhouse buildings were taken over by Kent County Council in 1930 and became known as the East Ashford Public Assistance Institution. At a later date it was also known as Willesborough Institution and Willesborough 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 East Ashford Union was Willesborough. 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 “Gill House, Willesborough” for deaths in the workhouse and “The Hostel, Wye” for the children’s home.

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 Willesborough, 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 “Gill House”.

CHILDREN

Education
The children were educated in the Workhouse by a Schoolmaster and Schoolmistress until 1884 when the boys and then the girls in 1885 attended the local National Schools.
Accommodation
From July 1911 the children were removed from the Workhouse and accommodated at The Manor, Willesborough, which the Guardians had hired and then from June 1915 they sent to The Hostel, Wye.

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

INMATES RECEIVED FROM OTHER UNION WORKHOUSES

During 1916 inmates from the Elham Union were accommodated at the Workhouse and also some from the Hastings Union.

INMATES SENT TO OTHER UNION WORKHOUSES

LOCATION OF SURVIVING UNION RECORDS

Kent History and Library Centre, Maidstone, Kent

DOCUMENTS WHICH HAVE BEEN TRANSCRIBED

Register of Deaths – 1836 to 1841
Admission and Discharge Registers – 1835 to 1841
Minutes of the Board of Guardians – 1835 to 1841
Correspondence Out – 1835 to 1841

– SEE “LIST OF SURNAMES”