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HER Number:MDV93674
Name:Okehampton Union Workhouse


Okehampton workhouse, built 1836-7. Became a geriatric hospital after World War II, closed in 2002, and was demolished in 2008.


Grid Reference:SX 586 945
Map Sheet:SX59SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishOkehampton
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishOKEHAMPTON

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses: none recorded

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • WORKHOUSE (XIX - 1836 AD to 1837 AD)
  • PUBLIC ASSISTANCE INSTITUTION (Early 20th Century - 1929 AD to 1930 AD)
  • GERIATRIC HOSPITAL (Demolished, Mid 20th Century to XXI - 1948 AD to 2008 AD (Throughout))

Full description

Ordnance Survey, 1880-1899, First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map (Cartographic). SDV336179.

'Okehampton Union Workhouse' shown.

Ordnance Survey, 1904 - 1906, Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map (Cartographic). SDV325644.

Ordnance Survey, 1930 - 1939, Fourth Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map (Cartographic). SDV336668.

'Public Assistance Institution (Devon County Council)' shown.

Ordnance Survey, 1953 - 1969, Ordnance Survey Six Inch Map (Cartographic). SDV340358.

'Castle Hospital' shown.

Morriss, R., 2008, Castle Walk Hospital, Okehampton, Devon: An Architectural and Archaeological Analysis (Report - Survey). SDV363460.

Castle Walk Hospital was originally constructed in 1836 as a Workhouse and opened formally in February 1838. It was designed by Sampson Kempthorne who was the architectural advisor to the Poor Law Commissioners and had been responsible for a series of workhouse designs in 1835. The building was built to accommodate 230 paupers but only around 120 occupied the building during the 19th century.
The building underwent many changes throughout the 19th and 20th century. The original building built in 1836 consisted of several wings for housing inmates, the layout of the wings created yards used to segregate men, women and children. As labelled in the report ranges A, B, C and D formed the original building. The buildings were constructed of locally derived granite, presumable much coming from the quarry to the rear of the site. The main entrance was through A1 which lies at the west of the complex.
During the later 19th century several buildings were added to the complex this included making wing D1 two storey. Several smaller ranges were added during this period including H, I, J and F. The cottage range (G) was also added during this period and was deemed to be the homeliest looking of all the buildings due to its oriel windows compared with the institutionalised design of the original workhouse. Range E was also added as an extension to D1.
During the early-20th century further alterations were made, most notably block D3 was converted to cells to house tramps. In 1948 the creation of the National Health Service meant that the former poorhouse was converted to a geriatric hospital. This meant a large amount of internal reorganisation and improvement. Major external additions and extensions did not take place until late in the century.
In 2002 the hospital closed and remained largely unused except for the ambulance station housed in one of the wings.
In 2008 most of the complex was demolished leaving only the frontage block as a reminder of its history.
A watching brief was undertaken during the demolition, but nothing of historical significance was discovered.
For detailed description of each range see full library linked report.

Peter Higginbotham, 2012, The Workhouse (Website). SDV349628.

Okehampton Poor Law Union was officially formed on 20th April 1836, and the new Okehampton workhouse was built in 1836-7 at a site on the east side of Castle Road. It was designed by Sampson Kempthorne who was also the architect for other Devon workhouses. The entrance and administrative block faced to the north-west. This would have contained Guardians' board room, porter's room, and offices for the Union's clerk and relieving officer. The main accommodation wings were of two storeys. Various single-storey utility rooms and workshops formed the perimeter of the building. After 1930, the former workhouse was taken over by Devon County Council and became a Public Assistance Institution. After 1948, it became the Castle Hospital, latterly providing geriatric care, until its closure in 2004. After an unsuccessful local effort to get the building listed, it was demolished in 2008. Modern housing now occupies the site.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV325644Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1904 - 1906. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV336668Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1930 - 1939. Fourth Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Fourth Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV340358Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1953 - 1969. Ordnance Survey Six Inch Map. National Grid A edition imperial. Map (Digital).
SDV349628Website: Peter Higginbotham. 2012. The Workhouse. www.workhouses.org.uk. Website.

Associated Monuments: none recorded

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV8217 - An Architectural and Archaeological Assessment: Castle Walk Hospital, Okehampton (Ref: 382)

Date Last Edited:Jan 9 2020 12:59PM