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Old Ledbury

Belle Orchard House
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Union Lane

1948 - The Union Workhouse, Public Assistance Institution, became an old people's home.
Date Unknown
[Ledbury Belle Orchard House]
Pauline SMITH Collection)
( 2013 June )
Pauline Smith - My nan worked there

Vicki Horrobin - Is that the houses past Leadon bank?

Rosemarie Smith - yes vic x

Claire Ellis - So what was it at this time? Still the Workhouse?

Pauline Preedy - My great grandfather Evan Griffiths died here x

Chip Andrew Bryon - My great grandfather William Barnett was an inmate at the workhouse.

Pauline Preedy - Grandad went there at the time when it had changed to an old peoples home xx

Chip Andrew Bryon - I was going to say, when did it transform from the workhouse into the old folks home? -or did it kind of evolve like other workhouses? It looks very pleasant in the photo; It must be the old folks home by the time of the picture?

Pauline Smith - I only ever heard my nan say that she worked in an old people's home!

Shirley Dalley - I don't think anybody back in those days had an easy life - if they worked on the land they ended up dragging through the mud and all the family had to work on the land to survive. They were also often turned out of the farmhouses at a whim of the landowner and that was why a lot of people ended up in the workhouse. There were children who were orphaned and if they weren't lucky enough to move in with relatives they often ended up in the work houses with poor relations.

Pauline Preedy - I can remember going hop picking with my family, Us kids picked them in an opened up umbrella, people lit fires and cooked their food on it, always had a wonderful smell in the air. Fresh tea brewed, what more could you want xx

Chip Andrew Bryon - I remember the upturned umbrellas for us kids. Don't think I actually picked many, I was just a toddler. My sister did, I think.

Jack Gittings - I can remember Mr and Mrs Kendrick and their daughter (think she was a nurse) always very smartly dressed and very friendly.

Janet Jones - Mike and Miriam Evan,took over running the the home in Belle Orchard I would say in 1973 approx after then things started improving and thanks to them the place had a better name.

Jayne Limb - although there was a lot of sadness caused by the "institution" in Victorian times, when it was the workhouse, this building actually has a lovely atmosphere and has made me feel exceptionally welcome since I moved here just over 2 years ago.

Kate Hoare - I first went to work at Belle Orchard House in 1971 ish. I remember so well that one of the men, when I asked his name told me it was 27! I also remember when the new place was being built (close to finishing) we were having to bail water out of the ccellar, carry gas heaters up and down stairs and carry hot water from the laundry, across the yard, & for me, through the dining room to bathrooms for everyone washes & baths. We moved everyone on New years day (as I recall) as enough was enough... Dolly Bailey was cooking the Christmas turkeys and the oven door fell off. We had to carry them up to the hospital to finish cooking! I would do it all again if it meant everyone was kept warm, fed & clean and to hell with H&S and risk assessments

Kim Dowding - any stories any body has about the workhouse would be greatly appreciated as I am doing research into the workhouse with Miriam Evans. I've been researching on and off for the past year

Kate Hoare - Hi Kim. please say hello to Mrs Miriam Evans for me. Not sure if she will remember, but we did a drawing of the sitting rooms at Belle Orchard House with people sitting in their chairs. There were no faces, but sitting positions, facial hair, hats, shoes, bags and the like that we, could all easily identify who it was. I thought it was wonderful.

Kate Hoare - Not sure about the facts, but as the story goes, in the building known as the 'bottom block' there were hooks in the walls where a rope line was attached. At night people would pay 1d to escape the elements and hang off this line to sleep. Hence the saying ' I'm so tired I could sleep on a clothes line' Like I said, not sure how true this is.

[Ledbury Leadon Bank]
( Pauline SMITH Collection)
Today the building's central block and inner cross-ranges have been demolished. The remaining buildings have been converted into residential accommodation under the Belle Orchard House Residents Association.
Related Links
Union Workhouse Public Assistance Institution

1897 - 1980 A Retrospect Tilleys Almanacks - Herefordshire History
Photographs are credited to the owners where possible
Edited Comments in italics are from the Old Ledbury Facebook Group
Cuttings from Old Ledbury Reporter Newspapers