Hard Times
Callington Heritage Centre

By: Callington Heritage Centre
Added: 03 July 2015

Prior to the 1834 Poor Law, poor relief was a local affair. From Callington Vestry minutes of 1820 we learn that both money and clothing was determined and distributed by the Parish Council from a local levy known as a poor rate. 

In an attempt to reduce an excessively high poor rate, the new Poor Law was introduced. Now instead of staying in their "own" homes, the poor would be moved to workhouses built specifically for the purpose. Harsh discipline, hard labour and the segregation of the sexes, which would separate husband and wife, were meant to encourage people to stay out of them at all costs. The new "Bastilles" as they became known were soon full to capacity and would remain so.

In 1847 distress and hunger were widespread in Cornwall due to a general depression in agriculture and mining. In the weeks preceeding the harvest there were food riots. Corn, meat and butter were seized and their sale at below market prices was enforced by the working poulation. Troops were called in to help maintain "the peace". 300 Callington miners pledged themselves to six months teetotalism in order that grain would not be wasted in the production of alcohol.