This morning, I actually woke up without an alarm and before P, which hasn’t happened in a very long time. After only 10 hours sleep, I felt like I’d been in bed long enough, so I got up. This is momentous – it hasn’t happened in ages and ages. Usually I can sleep through several alarms and don’t notice time. It’s not that unusual for me to sleep well over 12 hours, and it’s usually my clock-radio and my internal understanding of the Radio 4 schedule that get me out of bed. “Crap! You and Yours already!?”
So this morning, I got up, breakfasted and sat down to work, and had laid out three Focuses before 11am. Then, since P was up and it was a nice day, we decided to head out. My first thought was Newstead Abbey, one in a long list of Nottingham and Notts tourist attractions that I haven’t visited. However, the Abbey has closed for the winter, so although we could have gone around the gardens and used the caff, we wouldn’t have been able to see the Abbey. I’ll put that on the list of things to do after the elections.
Instead we ended up going out to Southwell with the intention of seeing both the National Trust Workhouse there and the Minster. In the end, we only had time to go around the Workhouse. We left after Evensong would have started, so weren’t sure whether we go around as tourists.
The Workhouse upsold us from 2 x entry fees to yearly membership by direct debit – not entirely sure we wanted to do that, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.
The Workhouse was an interesting visit, anyway. It’s part of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, too. It took us several hours to go around it with audioguides. The building is big, and excellently restored, but largely consists of empty rooms. They explain that there’s not much documentary evidence about how workhouses used to be furnished. It’s the audioguide that explains the context of the rooms, and gives you an idea of what sorts of things used to happen at workhouses. It must be a little odd being a volunteer there watching the various visitors wander around silently like zombies.
The Workhouse in Southwell was in use as a Workhouse for over 200 years up until the 1940s. The last two rooms tell you about what the building was used for since then, including being a bedsit for single mothers in the 70s, with an interview with someone only a little older than us who lived there. A local guide also told us it was used as a county council records store and a training centre for police dogs. Just before the NT acquired it, planning permission had been granted to convert it to luxury flats. Instead we get a fascinating museum.