1905: Christmas party for the Workhouse Inmates

Updated: Dec 27, 2021


Alfred William Cook Confectioner c1910/15 (Photo colourised)

The Workhouse Inmates had a fine time of it on Boxing Day, thanks to the liberality of the Guardians and friends and also to the labours of the Master and Matron (Mr and Mrs Howe) and other officials. The number of inmates catered for was 213, and the fare placed before them consisted of roast beef and plum pudding, with beer and mineral waters, followed by oranges, sweets, nuts, tea, sugar, tobacco, and other good things which caused the recipients to smile all over their faces.

Mr J Howe, Mr W Goaring, Mr WH Howe and Mr Nixon acted as chief carvers, and no pains were spared to make happiness reign supreme throughout the institution, which was elaborately decorated in honour of Christmas. Among some of the conspicuous mottoes in the dining hall were ‘Long life and happiness to all our Guardians’ and ‘Many thanks to all kind friends’.

The Infirmary, which is under the charge of Nurse Burgess, was also charmingly decorated, and many delightful and cheery mottoes adorned the walls. At the evening entertainment Mr J Howe, Mr. and Mrs WH Howe, the Misses Howe, and several of the officers assisted in the programme. BIr. George Bunting sang some of his most interesting songs, which aroused much interest.

Among the friends who kindly remembered the inmates and sent them gifts were Captain Carter (Bath) and Mrs Barwell (Bletchingley), Christmas cards; Mrs Ford (Burgess Hill), presents for women and children; Major Farquharson (Cuckfield), papers and tobacco; Mrs Cow (Haywards Heath), oranges; the Hon. Mrs. Fremantle, books and texts; Mr T Best, sweets and games for the children. Mrs Aldrich (a Guardian) was present at the dinner, and presented the children with packets of sweets. During the festive proceedings the Master proposed the health of the Guardians and acknowledged their liberality in providing the good things for the day, and also thanked Mrs Aldrich for being present.

Mid SussexTimes 3 January 1905


Photo (colourised): Alfred Cook a confectioner in South Street in 1910/15 seen here must have looked forward to the business that Christmas time would have brought. Alfred John William Cook (born 1863, Cuckfield) was originally a naturalist and is shown as such in trade directories published between 1899 and 1905, Cook is then listed as a 'bird stuffer' with his premises in South Street, Cuckfield. Albert Burtenshaw the photographer who took the picture also lived in South Street, Cuckfield from 1890 until his death in 1936. From www.photohistory-sussex.co.uk.


Contributed by Malcolm Davison.