Stock History
Parish Workhouse
By Charles Phillips
The first mention of a parish workhouse was in 1757 when court papers were drawn up and signed by the tenants of the Manor of Imphey Hall in Buttsbury consenting to grant a licence for the erection of a workhouse on Stock Common. The document was followed up a year later when the Lord of the Manor of Impiety (Imphey surely) granted to the church wardens and overseers of the parishes of Stock and Buttsbury four acres of waste land on Stock Common for the purpose of erecting a workhouse. The rent of the land was to be five shillings years (surely five shillings a year) and the two parishes would contribute equally towards the cost of building the workhouse. Both the parishes would raise a rate of one shilling in the pound towards the cost of building which was payable yearly until the whole cost was repaid. In the seventeenth century Stock Common was a considerable size, but the Enclosure Acts saw all commons reduce in size including Stock Common although in 1760 four acres were still being rented for the purpose of the workhouse. There were further enclosures up to 1815 by which time the workhouse plot would have been reduced considerably.
The government survey of parish workhouses in 1777 quotes both parishes as having a workhouse and both having a capacity of up to 10 inmates. There are inconsistencies with the figures for Essex in this survey and probably the return by the parish quoted the joint parishes of Stock and Buttsbury and the compiler presumed wrongly that each parish had a workhouse.
The workhouse was converted into cottages when the property was no longer required by the Chelmsford Union and the building remains today in this form. The location of the workhouse cottages is in Common Lane which was previously called Workhouse Lane (has also been seen as Street). The cottages still stand and whereas they were originally converted into five cottages in the 1840s there are now only three. The old workhouse building can be found on the right hand side of Common Lane from the Mill Road end.
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