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The Building of the West Firle Poor Law Union Workhouse

An Order of the Poor Law Commissioners of 5 February 1835 to build a workhouse in West Firle the Poor Law Guardians of the West Firle Union advertised in the local papers in 1835 for tenders to construct the new workhouse at Firle. On 24 July 1835 the Board of Guardians of the West Firle Union agreed a contract, under a Deed of Covenant, with John Humphreys of Stoke Newington, Middlesex, builder. John Ellman the younger for Glynde, John Putland for Firle, Charles Marchant Ellis for Ripe, Matthew Mannington for Chalvington, William Stace for Berwick, James Skinner for Selmeston, James Gorringe for Alciston and Thomas Ellman for Beddingham signed the contract as guardians of the poor for their respective parishes.

Sampson Kempthorne of Carlton Chambers, 12 Regent Street, London, was appointed by the Guardians as the architect 'for superintending the execution of the said building'.

John Humphreys contracted to undertake all the works specified in four drawings* for the price of £2,833 by 1 December next 'in a good substantial and most workmanlike manner with the best materials of their several kinds'.

The three main wings of the building were to be raised and entirely covered in before the 18 October 1835, and the entire building to be completed in a 'clean and perfect state for use and the ground cleared of all scaffolding, rubbish and other impediments' by 1 December. It was agreed that the Board would pay John Humphreys ten per cent of the £2,833 when 'the two pair floor joists of the main buildings are fixed'; fifteen per cent when the roofs, gutters and pipes of the main building and all the drains (less pools and tanks) were completed; twenty per cent when all the outbuildings were covered in and all the fences and other walls finished; and forty per cent when all 'the works of every kind are completed, done and performed except the painting and whitewashing of plastering'. The balance of fifteen per cent was kept as a provision for the quality of the work and would remain unpaid for four months after the completion of the building. Any defects in the building found in the four month period would be paid out of the final fifteen per cent.

The Deed of Covenant is annotated with the payments to John Humphreys. He received £283 6s on 2 November 1835; £424 19s on 20 November; £566 12s on 2 December; and £700 on 6 February 1836. On 18 March 1836 Humphreys was paid £433 4s as the residue of he instalment of forty per cent and a further £154 1s 7d as the balance outstanding on the contract.

This made a total of £2,562 2s 7d paid and on 26 August 1836, Humphreys was paid the final balance of £200 after deductions of £70 17s 5d for what appears to have been overcharging noticed by Mr Kempthorne, the architect.

* Editor: so far no copies of these drawings have been located.

Listed under the Topic: Architecture

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