Aysgarth Union Workhouse

This page is intended to give a little local insight into the workhouse at Bainbridge from 1809 - 1930 and the staff and associated people who were connected with it. The building is currently known as High Hall Residential Home.

High Hall 1924

High Hall was built as a workhouse in 1809 and was able to take up to sixty inmates.

1812 The Gilbert Act

Under the Gilbert Act the Gilbert Union was formed and the workhouse was called the Bainbridge Incorporation Workhouse.

The workhouse gave shelter, relief and employment to the poor of Bainbridge, Askrigg, Hawes, Aysgarth, Low Abbotside, Thoralby and Burton-Cum-Walden.


  • Grinton and High Abbotside joined the Incorporation workhouse.
  • In 1824 Carperby became part of the Incorporation.

If anyone has an early photograph of High Hall please could you contact AngelaKershaw (in a new window) at angela@kershaw.org
Also any help, information or corrections will be appreciated.
Comments can also be added to the bottom of all pages.
These pages will be updated as more information becomes available.


From the month of February accounts

The Guardians allowed the purchase of 9 gallons of ale at 1/6d per gallon.


The governor of the workhouse was paid a monthly salary of 5-8/-.

It was unanimously agreed by the visitors and guardians of the Incorporation Township that the treasurer Mr.------ shall have an advance of 5 per annum.

November 1813

At a meeting of the Governors and visitors of the Incorporation Workhouse at this place, it was unanimously resolved that in consequence of the extravagant price of 9d a gallon wine measure paid for new milk for the supply of the house it was becoming highly expedient to remedy the above imposition by the keeping of a cow to be provided at the general expense of the Institution and that Mr Lamb and Mr John Beezon be requested to implore Mr Scarr herewith or any other person the requisite quantity of land for the above purpose.
---? Metcalfe (Chairman)

Approx. 1813-1814 From the accounts.

I James Metcalfe do agree to furnish the workhouse with beef at 8d per lb and mutton and veal at 8d per lb.
Signed James Metcalfe.

I John Cockbone do agree to furnish the Bainbridge Workhouse with coals.

West pit coals at 1/6 per load. East pit coals at 2/6 per load.

In todays' money that would be seven and a half and twelve and a half pence respectively. (West pit coal came from West Pits near Hardraw)


Governor of the workhouse is a Mr John Harper

At a regular monthly meeting of Visitors and Guardians of the Incorporation Township held this day of July 1815 it was resolved by the major part of the said Visitors and Guardians then present that John Harper the late Governor shall on the first Monday in August shall quit the workhouse and the Chairman Mr R Garth is requested to give him notice accordingly and that all the books, utensils etc. belonging to the said workhouse shall be delivered to William Curwen at the same time.

Letter to Mr John Harper
Sir you are hereby urged to quit your situation of Governor of this house on the first Monday in August next and to deliver up possession of all books, stores etc belonging to same, to William Curwen the present Governor by order of this meeting.
R? Garth (Chairman)

The visitors and the guardians asked him to quit the workhouse and to hand over any books etc. belonging to the workhouse.

Mr. Harper refused to leave and it was discussed that the matter may be taken to law.


The Rev. Geoff Wood Minister of Aysgarth church was called to the chair as a mediator to try and settle the disagreeable subject of Mr Harper.

A solution was reached and the Rev. Wood proposed William Curwen to be the new Governor.

The contract of employment was to be for one year. The salary was to be 40 pounds per annum.

William Curwen finally becomes Governor of the workhouse


High Hall Back of the workhouse

November. The guardians unanimously decided that they would no longer be responsible for payments to the casual poor.

Each parish would be directly resposible for the relief of their own casual poor.


James Mason from Bainbridge became Governor of the Incorporated Workhouse, Bainbridge

Conditions at Bainbridge By this date the annual salary had risen to 45 pounds per annum.

James Mason remained governor of the workhouse at Bainbridge for 22 years. He died October 14th 1840.

A plaque commemorating the Life of James Mason can be seen at the Methodist Chapel in Bainbridge.

James Mason was also the parish constable of Bainbridge and was the last person to commit anyone to sit in the stocks at Bainbridge.

The last occasion (approx. 1837) that the stocks were put to use was when a tinker named Jos Swales and his wife (a riotous couple), were committed to sit in the stocks for being drunk and disorderly.


Looms were brought in to the workhouse and a weaver was employed to teach the paupers how to weave hurden.

  • HURDEN The coarse part of flax or hemp which was woven by the
    inmates and made into a hard coarse linen used for clothes, mattress and pillow coverings etc. (S.D.English Language 1899).


Henry Chapman becomes Governor of the Incorporation Workhouse.
He is listed as coming from Thornton Rust.

His wife was called Mary Chapman. She is listed as coming from Anderby.

In the 1841 census It gives Henry the age of 50 and Mary the age of 40.


A Medical Officer for Health is now introduced.


Henry Chapman aged 73 is still the Governor of the Incorporation Workhouse.
Mary Chapman is the Governess and she is now aged 58.


Matthew Blyth aged 29 becomes Governor of the workhouse. He comes from Hawes.

Isabella Blyth aged 27 is the Matron. She comes from Appleby in Cumbria.


The Gilbert Union was abolished and the Aysgarth Poor Law Union took over the workhouse.

The Aysgarth Union was managed by a Board of Guardians made up of 16 local people from the parishes served by the workhouse.

The Workhouse is now called the Aysgarth Union Workhouse.


Matthew and Isabella have now left the Workhouse and are living in Bainbridge. They have two children living with them who are not related.

Jane Dinsdale aged nine and registered as a boarder.

John Johnson aged one and registered as a boarder.

Matthew Blyths' occupation is now clogger.

Matthew eventually moves back to Hawes and becomes an ironmonger and china dealer.

Later on Matthew becomes a Guardian at the Aysgarth Union Workhouse.

He is still on the Board of Guardians in 1907.

Anthony Thistlethwaite aged 60 is now the Master (note change of job description) of the Workhouse.

Mary Thisthlethwaite aged 44 is the Matron and comes from Hull.

In the 1871 census it records George Whitton (later to become a master at the workhouse) as head of household from Aysgarth aged 37 married and living in Bainbridge.

Elizabeth Whitton wife aged 40. Listed as coming from Askrigg. They have four children. One son and three daughters. The youngest is Jane aged two.

George Whitton is described as a Master Coachbuilder who employs 3 men and one boy.

Living in his house at the time of the census as well as his family were John Akers aged 20. Apprentice from Staindrop.

Thomas Plews aged 16 and also apprentice from Richmond. (Boy)

John James Cannel aged 24. Coach builder from Douglas Isle of Man.

Thomas Stone aged 38 and is listed as a Blacksmith from Manchester.

From an e-mail I received recently
My great-grandfather, George Whitton, was master for over 20 years from the late 1870's into the early 1900's. He was born in Thornton Rust and at first was a farm worker on the family farm but then became a coach-builder and moved to London for a time. However he moved back in the 1870's was widowed, remarried and remained as master well into his 70's.
Dorothy Mc Knight


Dr. Alfred Baker

When the doctor, Dr Richard Routh at Aysgarth leaves, Dr Baker moves his practice from Askrigg to the one at Aysgarth.
Dr Baker thought Aysgarth would be the better location to run the rural practice from.

In 1889 he moved to a new house in Aysgarth with a doctors surgery attached.

Dr Baker is the Officer of Health for the Aysgarth Union Workhouse.

Dr. Baker dies in 1903 aged 50 and Dr.Edward Hime replaces him.


George Whitton now no longer Master Coachbuilder but becomes the Master at the Workhouse aged 48. He is listed as a widower.

Jane Holmes aged 32 from Aysgarth is the Matron.

Jane Whitton daughter aged 12 living with him.

Polly Whitton Visitor aged 15 and unwed is also staying there. She is listed as a housemaid.


Dr Thomas Grime 1890

Thomas Jackson Grime MD and surgeon was the medical officer from Hawes district for the Aysgarth Union Workhouse. He lived at the Holme Hawes.


George Whitton is still the Workhouse Master aged 58. He is listed as married again.

Mrs Elizabeth Whitton is registered as the Matron aged 33 from Bainbridge.


Mr. George Whitton from Aysgarth aged 68 Workhouse Master.

Elizabeth Whitton from Cubeck aged 43 Workhouse Matron.

Frank Whitton (son) aged 17 from Bainbridge. Assistant Master at home.

Margaret Whitton (daughter) aged 14.


George Witton Master of the Workhouse dies.
He is buried in Askrigg churchyard.

Dr. Edward Hime becomes the Officer for Health at the workhouse

1901 census

Frank Hiscock is listed as coming from a small village in Dorset called Melbury Abbas. He was a servant at the Lecicester Road Union Workhouse, Uppingham, Rutland.


Mr Frank Hiscock

Mr Frank Hiscock is now Master of the Aysgarth Union Workhouse

Mrs. Elizabeth Hiscock is the Matron.

At this time a Matron did not need any nursing qualifications.

They had one child a son, Allen F. born in 1901 at Shepton Mallett.

They later had a daughter May who went on to become an attendant at the workhouse(1922) and finally became the assistant Matron(1930) when she married Mr. T. Fawcett Assistant Master.

Ivor John Hiscock, Frank's younger brother also came to Aysgarth in 1903 and worked for Frank as a Vagrant Superintendant. In August 1904 Ivor John went back down south to work at Yeovil workhouse as a porter.

The Aysgarth Board of Guardians in 1907 taken at the back of the workhouse.

This photograph originally belonged to Willa Walls who now lives at Sycamore Hall. When she moved she gave the photograph to Aysgarth Parish Coucil as it was too large to hang up in her home.

This is Mr. Frank Hiscock with the very Reverend Frederick Morris Symonds Squibb M.A. Vicar of Askrigg on the left.


The Hiscocks are still Master and Matron.


Dr Dean Dunbar

Dr. Hime leaves Wensleydale and sells the practice at Aysgarth to Dr. Will Pickles and Dr Dean Dunbar for 3000.

Dr. Dean Dunbar from the Aysgarth surgery becomes the new Medical Officer for health at the workhouse. He was also on the Board of Guardians of the workhouse at Bainbridge.

Just imagine a doctor today turning up on the doorstep looking like this! (Hardy breed)


  • The newly created Ministry of Health was made responsible for poor
    law administration.
  • Eleven years later (1930) the Board of Guardians were abolished and
    their powers transferred to Borough and County Councils.


Board of Guardians

This photograph of the Board of Guardians was taken in front of Bainbridge Old Hall which is opposite the workhouse in 1922. To view close up photographs check out The Board Of Guardians


The Hiscocks are still Master and Matron. A much more austere looking couple don't you think.

Mr and Mrs Hiscock used to have parties/dances at the hall and invite local people to join them.
The numbers of ladies at the Hall were usually more than men so young men from the village were invited by Mr Hiscock to come to the hall to dance with the ladies living at the workhouse.
Mr and Mrs Hiscock always provided a lovely supper.

There is now an assistant Master And Matron Mr and Mrs T. Fawcett
Mrs Fawcett was Miss May Hiscock the daughter of Mr and Mrs Hiscock before her marriage.

Taken in March 1930 and was the last time the Board of Guardians met.''

Related Websites

Pages that link to this page: About Sycamore Close  /  High Hall History  /  High Hall Staff  /  History Index  /  Home  /  Joan Buck  /  The Reform Of The Poor Law

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