West Ashford Union
The first Board meeting of the Guardians of the West 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 West Ashford Union became part of the Ashford and District Area under the control of the Kent County Council Public Assistance Committee.
PARISHES WITHIN UNION
- Great Chart
- Little Chart
The parish poorhouses continued to be used until the new Union Workhouse was built at Hothfield with the first inmates being admitted to the new Workhouse in early 1836.
The workhouse buildings were taken over by Kent County Council in 1930 and became known as the West Ashford Public Assistance Institution. At a later date it was also known as Hothfield Institution and Hothfield 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 closest to, which for the West Ashford Union was Westwell. 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
Baptisms in the 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 take place in the parish church closest to the Workhouse, in this case Westwell, 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 “West Ashford House”.
The children were educated in the Workhouse by a Schoolmaster and Schoolmistress until 1911 when the boys and then the girls in 1915 attended the local National Schools.
From September 1902 orphaned and deserted children were boarded out with foster parents where possible.
From October 1915 the children were removed from the Workhouse and accommodated at Roughton House, Charing.
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
Minutes of the Board of Guardians – 1835 to 1841
Correspondence Out – 1835 to 1841
– SEE “LIST OF SURNAMES”