A home for the Poor - Goxhill Gander

Summer 2024
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Written Spring 2003
A Home for the Poor

This is a Goxhill story but it is all about private finance for the public sector! The idea of this is that a big company builds a building or buys equipment to be used for public services. It maintains the building and equipment and in return is paid for the lease of the building over a long period. At the end of the period of the lease the building becomes the property of the public service.

Now this is one of the latest ideas to be produced by our politicians. These denizens of the corridors of power faced with an ever growing need for money to finance their promised projects have discovered a source of cash which does not involve taxation and does not increase the national dept. They are of course divided on the question of whether this is a good or a bad idea. Cabinet Ministers Union leaders and even the Mayor of London have strong opinions about private finance in the public sector. In Westminster this is the latest idea, the modern concept; but in Goxhill they have seen it all before.

The inhabitants of Goxhill were aware of this method of raising finance many years ago. Not only were they aware, they were using it to provide the social services and civic amenities for which it is proposed today. I found the following memorandum amongst the writing of Thomas Hardy.

Memorandum that Agreement was made in ye year 1778 by ye Inhabitants of ye Parish of Goxhill with Jos Cook and Wllm Allcock of Barton for to Build a new Poor house in ye Said parish at the Cost and Charge of Jos Cook and Wm Allcock and that ye Said parishioners shall pay or Cause to be Paid unto ye Said Jos Cook and Wm Allcock the Sum of Twelve pounds Twelve Shillings a Year Att two Equall payments ye first payment to be Paid at Michelmas 1778 and Continue for 31 Years and after ye End of thirty one Years the Said Jos Cook and Wm Allcock Shall Sign all their Right and titell of Interest of ye Said House unto ye Inhabitants of ye Parish of Goxhill.--------
And it is Further agreed that ye Said Jos Cook and Wm Allcock shall Maintain and keep ye Said House and Every thing Belonging to it in good Repair During ye said thirty one Years. Except ye Windows and pump.

I hope that I have read the handwriting properly. I have kept the original spelling and use of capital letters but not the use of f in place of s. Full stops and commas were not used so you have to pause for breath when you can. Whilst we may look upon the written form of this agreement as being archaic it is undoubtedly true to say that the Council would require rather more paper to record a similar transaction in the parish at the present time.

The Poor House, later to become the Workhouse, was built in what is now called Greengate Lane. It has become a private house and you can still find it there. I do hope that ye windows and pump continue to give satisfaction. The Workhouse eventually passed into the control of the Glanford Brigg Union and was sold in 1839 to Mr John Border for £60 which was received by the Guardians of the Poor of the Glanford Brigg Union but not by “The said parishioners,” who originally paid for it.

There is one other remarkable thing about the building of the poor house and that is the location. It was built about 200 yards from what in 1775 was described as the homestead of Thomas Hardy. Imagine the building of a new centre for the homeless so close to the home of one of the wealthy people in Goxhill today. Perhaps the homeless were less assertive then and made better neighbours.

Two people named Thomas Hardy lived in Goxhill at that time one a labourer and the other a gentleman farmer Thos Hardy Esq. He was Born in 1726 and Died 17 March1793 age (67 years). His wife was Mary, their Son Joseph Hardy was born 1753 Died 3 August 1812 (59 years). He had a sister Ann. Our Thomas must not be confused with the famous author and poet Thomas Hardy (1840 – 1928). He was Born at Brockhampton in Dorset and Educated at local schools and Kings College London. His first successful novel Far From the Madding Crowd, was published in 1874. In the later years of his life he stopped writing novels and concentrated his efforts on the writing of poetry.

Maurice Brawn.
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