Workhouse Christmas shows how the other half tried to live

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A CHRISTMAS event inspired by a Victorian poet’s famously bleak tale of hardship among the lower classes is being held at Ripon Workhouse today.

The event, called It Was Christmas Day in the Workhouse, inspired by the poem by George R Sims about a man and his wife who dies at Christmas, is being held as part of a host of festive events.

More than 30 volunteers will be dressing up in the exact costumes of the 1890s, showing a range of activities that took place at the Victorian building, from chopping wood for the Christmas stove fire to “rag rugging”, where bundles of rags are transformed into rugs.

Ripon Museums Trust manager Penny Hartley said: “We want to show visitors how people in the workhouse would have celebrated Christmas, a day that was the only one different to the monotony of the rest of the year.

“The poem by George Sims is the inspiration for it.

“We will have a host of activities on the day and while we want visitors to enjoy themselves, we want to show people how it really was as well.”

A special guided tour to see the workhouse celebrating Christmas in 1892 is also taking place on Thursday.