The first Board meeting of the Guardians of the West Ashford Union took place in 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 Sevenoaks Union became part of the Tonbridge and District Area under the control of the Kent County Council Public Assistance Committee.
PARISHES WITHIN UNION
- Dunton Green
- Sevenoaks Weald
The parish poorhouse of Sevenoaks was taken over for use as the Union Workhouse until 1845 when the inmates were removed to the new Union Workhouse at Sundridge.
The workhouse buildings at Sundridge were taken over by Kent County Council in 1930 for the accommodation of mental patients and became known as the Sevenoaks Public Assistance Institution. At a later date it was also known as the Sundridge 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 Sevenoaks Union was firstly Sevenoaks and then later Sundridge. From August 1887 inmates dying in the Workhouse could also be interned in the graveyard attached to the Workhouse. 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. This was the case at Chatham from 1847. Baptisms could take place in the parish church closest to the Workhouse, in this case Sevenoaks and then Sundridge, 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 “Birchfield House, Sundridge”.
The children were educated in the Workhouse until 1909 when the children attended local schools.
By May 1896 orphaned and deserted children were boarded out with foster parents where possible.
From October 1908 the older girls and boys were sent to the Kensington and Chelsea Cottage Homes at Banstead, Surrey.
From October 1912 the children were removed from the Workhouse and accommodated at the Union’s Scattered Home at Rock House, Chipstead.
In February 1914 some boys were also sent to the Barfields Cottage Homes in Surrey run by the Godstone 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
LOCATION OF SURVIVING UNION RECORDS
Kent History and Library Centre, Maidstone, Kent
DOCUMENTS WHICH HAVE BEEN TRANSCRIBED
Correspondence Out Letters – 1835 to 1839
– SEE “LIST OF SURNAMES”