Another "A Christmas Carol" question...

I hope I’m not showing major ignorance here. I know what “prisons” are, of course–but what are/were “workhouses”? Some sort of slavery for shelter situation?

You’re correct. Workhouses were dormitory-style shelters for the poor. The able-bodied had to work to maintain their residence there.

Workhouses were places, administered by the parish, where the destitute could go for food and shelter. Those that were able were expected to work in reparation.

Originally concieved as charitable institutions, they later gained notoriety for their meaness and squaler, particularly as the population became more urbanized and the workhouses grew in size. They were later replaced by the welfare state.


Here’s a link to a site about workhouses in Powys (Mid-Wales). It’s aimed at young children, but it’s pretty good on the basics and well laid-out.

Powys Digital History Project:the workhouse

Yes, pretty much.