The Parish Workhouse

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This building in Bexley village was once the parish workhouse. The Pickett family of Blackfen ended up here in 1835, most likely because James Pickett could not find work. Esther Pickett made a complaint to the authorities about repeated harsh treatment towards her six children. She was summoned to give evidence but the officers, including the vicar of Bexley, did not believe her and he had ‘great pleasure in reporting… that she deserved the severest reprehension’. Years later the vicar reported that the Master of the Workhouse had been dismissed from other jobs for ‘great cruelty’. His wife was sacked from Dartford Workhouse for drunkenness and ill-treatment of children. The vicar admitted that the Pickett case had been a whitewash.

James Pickett died in 1841 leaving behind a family with no source of income. Blackfen was not an easy place to survive if you were poor. Esther later moved to Bexleyheath to be with family who lived there.

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