Union Workhouse (Building)


Thrapston District Historical Society

Thrapston Union Workhouse c1900, known as Cedar House
Lodges at entrance to Cedar House c1900
Workhouse Floor Plan

The National Model  (with local variations)

Union Workhouses were intended to be cheap public buildings but many designs included a grandiose frontage as towns competed with each other to erect the most imposing buildings.

Thrapston’s Workhouse was typical of medium sized workhouses nationally and was designed by William Donthorn, a respected London architect of Hanover Square.

The builder was William Bayes and Company and the building itself cost £3,539.

Thrapston Workhouse Building

The building incorporated stone mullion windows and gargoyles to the front but the remainder of the building behind the frontage was constructed with poor quality materials.

The stone used to construct the building was obtained from up to 8 quarries.

Under the terms of the loan from the Royal Exchange Assurance Company, the total construction cost was not to exceed £4,400. However, additional costs in constructing sewers, stables  and a chapel raised the cost to £6,000. The loan had been secured through a guarantee against a levy on the local rates.

Historic England Listed Building Entry


Workhouse, now Local Authority offices and stores, c.1836 by M.J. Donthorne.

Squared coursed limestone, with ashlar facades and dressings, and slate roofs. Originally four 3-sided courtyards. 2 storeys.

Main front of 13 bays. Centre and end bays break forward as cross wings forming sides of 2 courtyards.

Centre cross wing has gabled end with 7-light stone-mullion window at first floor, with arch-head lights and transoms. Similar pair of 2-light windows at ground floor. Chamfered and corbelled corners and ashlar gable parapet with octagonal finial. Return wall has stone-mullion windows and lateral stack with octagonal flues. 5-window ranges, flanking either side, of 2-light stone-mullion windows with transoms at ground floor and gables over at first floor. Return walls of flanking cross wings are similar 3-window ranges.

Right cross wing has C20 lean-to extension. Rear elevations of main range are each of 5-window ranges. Central rear wing attached at right angles of 6-window range. Various casements, at first floor, under scored stone lintels with key blocks. Various C20 openings at ground floor.

Intersection of main cross wings is octagonal and has 2 doorways, to rear elevation, with 4-centred arch-heads; giving access to through-passage between courtyards. Interior: central staircase with stick balustrade.

Masters office, to front of central cross wing, has C19 fireplace and panelled window reveals.

Frst floor hall of main cross wing has arch-head stone surrounds to windows.

The third side of the 2 rear courtyards was demolished about 1900.”




Extract from a joint publication by Thrapston District Historical Society and East Northamptonshire Council to celebrate the refurbishment of the old Union Workhouse to accommodate the new Council Offices.

This page was added on 28/01/2017.

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