Memorial created for paupers

VILLAGERS have created a lasting memorial to forgotten workhouse paupers who died up to 200 years ago and were buried in sheets with no more than simple wooden crosses.

VILLAGERS have created a lasting memorial to forgotten workhouse paupers who died up to 200 years ago and were buried in sheets with no more than simple wooden crosses.

Parish councillors at Onehouse, near Stowmarket, are determined that those who suffered grinding poverty from the 1800s and who failed to gain a decent burial should be remembered.

They have bought a wooded copse near the old Stow Lodge workhouse, which is now flats, and have cleared overgrown foliage around about 100 graves.

Ray Taylor, a parish councillor who has been working on the project, said they bought the land from the health authority as a millennium project.

He said: “We talk a lot about slavery and we should remember that, but people should also feel just as much about these poor paupers. They had nothing and were one step from slavery.

“Their landlord would have thrown them out if they could no longer work on the farms, or young unmarried girls who fell pregnant were sent there.

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“They would do chores to earn their keep, there were no state benefits or nice council flats then. We want to remember these forgotten souls and look after their graves.”

Most burials were for smallpox where the body was usually sown into a sheet, laid into the grave and covered with quick lime and then soil, and it was unusual for the paupers to be buried too deeply.

Small wooden crosses bearing a metal number were put at the head of first 100 graves and after that painted numbers were used.

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