South Molton workhouse
Original 1837 entrance building in North Road, South Molton
Under the new poor law of 1834 workhouses were to be built for groups of parishes known as poor-law unions. The Devon Exmoor parishes were placed in the South Molton union. South Molton workhouse was built in 1837 for 230 inmates though it usually held less than half that number.
Poor and elderly people who could not support themselves went to the workhouse. The children of lone women were often born there and abandoned children were brought up in the institution, which had its own school. The mentally ill were often placed in workhouses like a young woman from Dulverton and a brother and sister from West Anstey housed in South Molton workhouse in 1881.
For more information on poverty and workhouses see Dulverton workhouse on this site.