Brighton Workhouse

The imposing buildings of Brighton Workhouse (1864) are visible from my bedroom window on a hilltop overlooking the town, from where they and the Poor Law under which they were regulated cast a long shadow. Although workhouses were built to provide occupation and shelter for the poorest, they made those benefits conditional upon conformity and forced labour. They divided families and applied punitive sanctions, and when Brighton Workhouse later became a hospital, a fear of ending one's days there lived on in the popular imagination.