The Poor House History                                                Grade II* Listed 

English Heritage Building ID: 287472

The Garth is located on the west side of Lingfield, a beautiful old village first mentioned in the tenth century.

 The origins of The Garth go back to 1729, when the Lingfield parish drew up a contract with a local carpenter, Thomas Stanford, to build a new workhouse at a cost of 290. It was sold by the Charity Commissioners in 1850 to a Mr Cross, who divided it into six cottages. It was then purchased in 1918 by Stanley Hazell, by which time it was in a state of disrepair and contained squatters. Hazell employed a distinguished  architect and antiquarian Walter Godfrey (1881 - 1961) to convert it into a single house. Godfrey also designed the "Pleasure Grounds" including gardens and various features in the grounds of the Garth, such as a terrace, gazebo, Pergola, the court bench, small fountain and ornate iron entrance gates. Walter Godfrey, who had particular associations with the Society for Preservation of Ancient Buildings carefully restored a number of notable historic buildings, including Herstmonceux Castle and Anne of Cleves House in Sussex and the Temple Church, Chelsea Old Church and Crosby Hall in London.

Stanley Hazell was the co-author with Arthur Hayward of the “History of Lingfield” published in 1933, which gives very detailed information on the local area and its past. In the book, the Garth is noted as having red bricks, tiles and oak beams in an unusually good state of preservation.   

Stanley Hazell corresponded frequently with Walter Godfrey about the progress of the building work, and many letters and architectural plans survive in the local archives. We can see in the letters complaints about the squatters living in the house before conversion work started. Hazell frequently enquires about Godfrey’s latest ailments, advises him on his investments and comments on shoddy work by the builders. The photos Mr Hazell had of the house in 1918 and his subsequent correspondence with W Godfrey are enclosed in the Gallery. Some copies of Godfrey's original drawings relating to the Garth also enclosed in the Photo Gallery

 The construction of the workhouse in1729 was from burnt bricks to the first floor with weather tiles to the upper floors. A separate brew house is also known to have been built. The original agreement for the Garth’s construction and many records from its days as a workhouse have survived. They can be viewed at  Lingfield Library and in the archives of the Surrey History Centre.

We can recreate a vivid picture of the harsh life and dreary diet of the inmates of the workhouse. Items such as a provisions inventory of 1800 have survived, when the workhouse had  2 sacks of flower, 2 tubbs of pork, 5 legs of pork and back, 6 crocks of lard, 7 loaves, 18 cheeses, 2 tubbs of ale and 1 of small beer.

 The life in workhouses at that time was very harsh and to have to live in one was seen as  a symbol of degradation. The diet at the Workhouse was very poor and fluctuated between bread and milk or flour and water gruel. In 1837 the records noted complaints mainly about the poor diet. In 1858 the District Medical Officer proposed to add a portion of vegetables to the diet.

 Following the Poor Law amendments Act of 1834 the parishes had to join together into Unions. Husbands, wives and children were separated. East Grinstead workhouse accommodated all males and females, Hartfield received the girls and  Lingfield received the boys. The boys in Lingfield received schooling, and were taught shoemaking, how to make hats and bonnets. The records show that the Governor reported on 10th November that there were made 141 straw hats and bonnets with material costs of 4 pence each. The boys also made a moleskin waist coats with white metal buttons. Several of these have been dug up in the garden.  You can find a photo of other items we have found on our grounds.

The children were placed as servants or apprentices. The Governor of the Workhouse used also to be the schoolteacher up to 1849. In 1849 Mr Edward Groves in his 70s could not keep boys under control and a new position of a schoolmaster was created and Mr Simmonds was appointed and later dismissed for severely beating a boy. The previous Workhouse Governor in 1837, Stephen Jenkins was found drunk in the afternoon and was dismissed. Since 1837 there were quite a few schoolmasters appointed and dismissed for various reasons.  

Under the roof of the house the beehives were kept. In 1788 beehives were listed in the Garrett, the second floor of the main house. In 1800 the inventory listing did not have any reference to beehives. The Parish Workschool in listings of 1800 had records of various rooms including Drink Room, Brewhouse, Schoolhouse, Great Room and Little Room. The Garrett was divided into West Garrett, East Garrett and Long Garrett to accommodate growing number of boys. By 1855 the number of boys increased to 44 from 27 in the previous year.

More information about Lingfield and the workhouse can be found in an article written by Sue Quelch of the RH7 local history group.

The Garth, Newchapel Road, Lingfield, Surrey, United Kingdom RH7 6BJ