Farms are generally from £50 to £200 a year; one of £400. The workhouse location and layout are shown on the 1904 map below.
There are no commons or waste lands; the whole parish has been enclosed many years. St Thomas workhouse site, 1904 The workhouse layout was based on Kempthorne's standard hexagonal Y-plan design.
Dating st thomas
[Up to 1834] [After 1834] [Staff] [Inmates] [Records] [Bibliography] [Links] A parliamentary report of 1777 recorded parish workhouses in operation at Bicton (for up to 6 inmates), Bridford (12), Clist—Hydon (14), Clist—St Lawrence (10), Colaton Rawleigh (27), Holcombe Burnell (6), Honiton (60), Kenton (150), Otterton (20), and Topsham (82). The population falling within the union at the 1831 census had been 19,490 with parishes ranging in size from Membury (population 370) to St Thomas itself (2,719).
Eden, in his 1797 survey of the poor in England, reported on the parish of Clyst St George (later to form part of the St Thomas Poor Law Union): Clyst St George is 11 miles long and nearly the same broad, with about 150 inhabitants. The average annual poor-rate expenditure for the period 1833-35 had been £10,218 or 10s.6d. The new St Thomas workhouse was built in 1836 in Redhills, to the west of Exeter.
18 houses pay tax (one a double tenement), 28 cottages exempt. Price of provisions has greatly increased in the last two years; the Poor cannot purchase meat at less than 4½d. It was designed by Sampson Kempthorne who was also the architect for other Devon workhouses at Axminster, Barnstaple, Exeter, Okehampton, South Molton, and Torrington.
The men are wholly employed in agriculture; the women make lace and spin. Two pounds an acre seems about the average rent, but the landlord pays all Poor's Rates, taxes and repairs, computed at 5s. It accommodated 450 inmates and the total cost, including 3.5 acres of land, was about £11,000.
All have relief from the parish in money, or corn at a reduced price. a week by piece work on an average throughout the year.
No labourer can at present maintain himself, wife and children on his earnings.
The area between the wings of the building were divided up by walls to give a total of six exercise yards for each of the various classes of inmate.
St Thomas Poor Law Union was formed on 21st April 1836.
The Poor are in general maintained by weekly pensions ; some receive occasional relief.
Prior to the present scarcity a labourer, if his wife was healthy, could maintain two young children on his 6s. A very few years ago labourers thought themselves disgraced by receiving aid from the parish, but this sense of shame is now totally extinguished.
Before the war wheaten bread and cheese, and about twice a week meat, were their usual food; now barley bread and no meat. Labourers' children are often bound out apprentices at 8 years of age to the farmers.