Education in Yeovil
old workhouse infants school
Lower Middle Street
The old workhouse was named on Watt’s map of 1806 (see below) as being in Vicarage Street but this was replaced by another workhouse building by 1831, seen on Watts' map of that year (also below). However this second workhouse quickly became known, in turn, as the Old Workhouse and appears as such in the 1841 census as the ‘Old Workhouse, Townsend’ with nine people living there as by this time the new Union Workhouse in Preston Road was in operation. The buildings appear on Bidder’s map of 1843 although not named.
Apparently a clergyman promoted an infants school in the (second) old workhouse. The school opened in May 1840 and, according to the Sherborne Mercury, had the astounding number of 354 children in attendance (which just goes to show that you shouldn't believe everything you read in the newspapers, even then!).
Sadly, nothing further is known of the Old Workhouse School although it is known that pauper children were taught the "Three R's" and tailoring at the Union Workhouse in Preston Road, by a schoolmaster who was paid a salary of £20 per annum with board.
E Watts' map of 1806 shows the 'Old Workhouse' in Vicarage Street (on the site currently occupied by the Methodist church) towards top left. Middle Street runs from centre left to top right and Starrs Lane is bottom right. At centre right Parcel 677 is the 'new' (or second)Workhouse with the Workhouse Garden below and to the left. Parcel 678, running alongside the conjoined Milford Brook and the Rackle Brook, was called the Withy Bed.
Watts' map of 1831 by which time the 'old workhouse' is not named as such whereas the 'new' workhouse and its garden are named. It was in this building that the school was started in 1840.