The first Board meeting of the Guardians of the Cranbrook Union took place in October 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 Cranbrook Union became part of the Maidstone and District Area under the control of the Kent County Council Public Assistance Committee.
PARISHES WITHIN UNION
The parish poorhouses continued to be used until February 1836 when the parish poorhouse of Goudhurst was used to accommodate able bodied paupers, the Sandhurst poorhouse to accommodate the children and the Benenden poor house for the old until the Union Workhouse was built. The first inmates were admitted to the new Union Workhouse at Cranbrook from March 1841.
The workhouse buildings were taken over by Kent County Council in 1930 and became known as the Cranbrook Public Assistance Institution. 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 Cranbrook Union was Cranbrook. 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.
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 Cranbrook, 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 “Hartley House, Cranbrook”.
The children were educated in the Workhouse until 1891 when the children attended the local National Schools.
From September 1891 orphaned and deserted children were boarded out with foster parents. 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
LOCATION OF SURVIVING UNION RECORDS
Kent History and Library Centre, Maidstone, Kent
DOCUMENTS WHICH HAVE BEEN TRANSCRIBED
Register of Births – 1836 to 1841
Register of Deaths – 1836 to 1841
Minutes of the Board of Guardians – 1835 to 1841
– SEE “LIST OF SURNAMES”