Brentwood Preparatory School secretary Mrs Debbie Beukes made sure her Victorian Day attire was truly authentic – she wore original workhouse garb!
Mrs Beukes’ clothing - discovered in an unused cupboard in a wing of the South Grove Workhouse in the East End of London – hadn’t been worn for over 140 years!
Mrs Beukes, who is the Prep 3-7 secretary, wore the very special costume to the Preparatory School’s Victorian Day, part of a special year of celebrations to mark the School’s 125th Anniversary.
She explained: “My mother, Margaret Treadway, worked for Tower Hamlets Social Services for over 30 years during the 70s to 90s, and they occupied the workhouse building which was renamed Southern Grove in 1961.
“She found the clothing in an unused cupboard in a wing of the building and we recently rediscovered it during a clear-out of her loft.” The button-up outfit had last graced a very petite woman and, although heavy with dust, ‘washed up beautifully.’
The South Grove Workhouse was opened in Mile End by the Whitechapel Poor Law Union in 1871 and initially accommodated around 400 inmates.