THE WORKHOUSE CROSS
THE NEW WINCHESTER UNION WORKHOUSE was built in the 1830s on land known as Oram’s Arbour, and housed to accommodate some three hundred inmates, erected at a cost of £5,194. It replaced an inadequate building in Middle Brook Street, and was designed by a William Cole,
who had been responsible for other similar buildings elsewhere, with that familiar Y-shape configuration,
providing separate blocks for men, women and for children.
From 1904, to protect them from disadvantage in later life,
the birth certificates for those born in the Workhouse
gave the address as 1, St Paul’s Hill.
In 1912 a large Nurses’ home was built on the site, to serve a large infirmary that had been added to the site back in 1871; the infirmary served the war-wounded in both World Wars.
The whole site became known as St Paul’s Hospital, and latterly it specialised in care of the elderly, and the rehabilitation of drug addicts, alcoholics,
and those in need of psychiatric care. It closed finally in 1998.
Why am I telling you this? Because yesterday I visited someone who had been in the Choir at Holy Trinity, and also lived next-door to Holy Trinity School with his many siblings years ago. He had managed to acquire some oak from the old Winchester Union Workhouse building, which he has beautifully-crafted into a crucifix.
It was originally destined to be used elsewhere, but circumstances prevailed that he who crafted it and I
came across each other at a recent funeral. He mentioned the cross -
I showed interest, and I'm so glad that we have been able to accommodate it
at Holy Trinity.
Jesus died on the Cross for us all, but particularly for those who were on the margins of society, like those who had no alternative than to resort to the Winchester Workhouse.
This cross will be a vivid reminder of those for whom Jesus came, and a challenge to us as Christians here in Winchester to reach out in His Name to those who are disadvantaged.
Remembering those thousands whose survival depended upon securing a place in a Workhouse; and that this Crucifix will be a reminder of Christ’s call to us to serve rather than be served.
We adore you O Christ, and we praise you, because by your Holy Cross
you have redeemed the World.
Almighty God, whose Son our Saviour Jesus Christ taught us that to serve the
least of our brothers and sisters is to serve Him. We give thanks that Simon the Cyrenean, from Africa, was there to help Jesus carry His cross. Give us a compassion like his and a ready willingness to serve the weak and the helpless
as though we serve Our Lord Himself. May all who kneel and pray before it
find health in body, mind and spirit, and their resolve be to serve our Crucified and Risen Lord in all people.