Bath Union Workhouse

Opened: 
1848
Status: 
Closed
Number of Burials: 
4,292 (1,111 within the grounds, 3,181 at the Radstock Road site)
Number of Memorials: 
0
Workhouse Entrance.jpg

Workhouse Entrance

Workhouse Chapel.jpg

Workhouse Chapel

The Bath Union Workhouse opened in 1838, amalgamating a series of parish-based poorhouses. It had its own chapel which has the year 1846 in stone above the western door. The foundation stone for the chapel was laid on 8 Feb 1843, it finally opened in 1846. John Plass, an inmate of the workhouse, was responsible for placing every stone. The Bath Chronicle of Thu 29 Jul 1847 carried the following at the end of an article on the dedication of St Matthew’s, Widcombe: “A half-past three o’clock, the Bishop proceeded to the Union Workhouse and consecrated a piece of ground for the interment of such poor persons as may die within the house. Thus the inconvenience of removing the bodies to different parishes will in future be obviated.”

The original graveyard was an area of flat land to the south-east of the chapel and there are about 1,100 burials there. It now contains just two memorials (a sundial and a headstone) which are to the singer Eddie Cochran (1938-1960) who died at Rowden Hill, Chippenham when returning with others from Bristol to London to go to the USA. He was buried at Cypress, California. In April 1858 a second burial ground was opened by the Radstock Road. This has over 3,100 burials and was closed in 1899. Thereafter burials of inmates were in the cemeteries of the individual wards, administered by burial boards. This second burial ground has no memorials.

Burials per year Bath Union.png

Burials per year

As reported in The Bath Chronicle of 21 Sep 1925 p8 “the number of inmates in the Workhouse for the past two weeks was 573 and 574 ... vagrants 140 and 115 ... lunatics in the County Asylum 255 and 256”.

In 1914 the Workhouse’s name was changed to ‘Frome Road House’ and the tablet bearing the word ‘workhouse’ was replaced (The Bath Chronicle Sat 25 Apr 1914 p5) and in 1939 it became St Martin’s Hospital (Bath Weekly Chronicle and Herald Sat 18 Nov 1939 p17). Burial registers for many cemeteries have many entries of ‘Frome Road House’ as the residence at the time of death. The set of buildings has now been turned into flats. The new road on the north-western side is called Kempthorne Lane after Sampson Kempthorne (1809-1873), architect to the Poor Law Commissioners, who was the workhouse’s designer and he also designed various churches as well as other workhouses both in England and New Zealand. He died in 1873 at Auckland.

Bath Union Workhouse, Chapel and presumed site of the first burial ground and site of second burial ground

Documentation: 

The Bath Union Workhouse Vol 2 Chapel Records. Burial Register Transcripts 1847-1899 by Dave Southern and Heather Noad (1995). Ordered by surname, forename and date. (The 4 registers are separate).