Workhouses, Cottage Homes and the Farringtons

 A workhouse offered shelter and work for those that could not provide for themselves.  In 1702, funds from Worcester’s Hopmarket were used to construct a workhouse in the Foregate.  Items such as cloth produced at the workhouse were not meant for sale, but intended to benefit the poor of Worcester.  By 1777 Workhouses existed in St Martins, St Nicholas and St Clements, and 1794 saw the construction of a large facility on Tallow Hill capable of supporting over 200 workers.

Ester Farrington

The cottage homes were set up to provide a brighter future for poor and orphaned children.  A master or superintendent and a matron headed a small team of staff that offered children some of the advantages that had been lost to them.  A place to sleep, bathe, food to eat and the chance to learn a trade that might benefit them in later life.  They were educated, given space to play, and even outings as a special treat.  The Cottage Home that stood between Stanley Road and Midland Road in Worcester is no longer in existence, but the items that have been kindly donated to Worcester City Museum help demonstrate what a difference it made to the lives of the less fortunate.  This year we received a framed address that celebrates Henry and Ester Farrington’s twenty one years of service as Master (Superintendent) and Matron of the Cottage Homes in Wyld’s Lane.  Mention is made of the many children who had benefited from their care as well as a register of the children leaving the Cottage Homes and making their way in the world thanks to the support and training they gained while in residence.

Henry Farrington

 The Master and Matron

 Henry Edward Farrington was born in Severn Street, Worcester in 1865 and as a young man was employed at the Porcelain Works.  Ester Elizabeth Marigold was born in Quedgeley near Gloucestershire in 1865 and became a pupil teacher at a school in Sidbury.  At 21 years of age she was to attend college to become a teacher, but instead entered into a very happy marriage with Henry.  At the age of 29 they took up the appointment of Master and Matron of the Cottage Home in Wyld’s Lane.  Because of their joint appointment, the couple could never holiday together.  It was quite usual for Henry to take a weeks holiday in the Isle of Man, while Ester holidayed with her mother the following week in the Isle of Wight.  Henry was a craftsman and a skilled carpenter.  At over six feet tall, he had a custom-built penny farthing cycle which he rode all of the way to London, and we can only assume, all the way back again.
Cottage Homes, Wylds Lane, Worcester
After the death of Henry and in her seventies, Ester moved into the house over the road from the Cottage Homes.  From her window she could watch the children going about their activities and enjoy the Monday evening band practise as the children marched up and down the playground.



For enquiries regarding the Social History collection at Worcester City Museums, David can be contacted at


3 thoughts on “Workhouses, Cottage Homes and the Farringtons

  1. Interesting notes on the Farrington’s, I hadn’t seen the photographs before. As far as I know, the Farringtons were in charge of the Cottage Homes from 1893 until 1920 when they were replaced by a Mr. & Mrs. Shepherd who remained until 1945 when, finally, Mr & Mrs. Pledger took over. The Pledgers remained for some time, beyond the re-naming of the Cottages Homes to ‘Perryfields’ when a Mr. Baylay was appointed as the first Manager of the ‘Adult Training Centre.
    My book ‘The Perryfields & Cottage HomesStory’ is lodged at County Hall and takes the ‘story’ up to 1994.

    1. Hi, My grandmother was in the cottage homes/Perryfields from 1935 until she went into service. I am going to take a look at your book today at Worcester hive. I would be very interested in any information you may have.
      Kind regards

      Michelle Jones

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