Charitable organisations often housed the very poor residents in communities but they could only accommodate so many. In 1597 parishes were allowed to build a poorhouse to house poor townsfolk and then in 1601 - with the passing of the ‘Poor Law’ which in 1640 directed each parish to appoint two overseers who would manage the work of those housed and contribute wages to the towns funds. It wasn’t until 1760 that the Wimborne churchwardens built a workhouse on the eastern side of East Borough on land they
had purchased for £160 in 1750. The building cost £1,336 to build.
Strangers who came to the town were required to carry a ‘Settlement Certificate’ that stated where their home parish was - the home parish being ultimately responsible
for them. Those local poor folk would be hired out to work in businesses elsewhere
and the wages returned to the Overseers whose responsibility it was to ensure
the poor were housed. (A watchmaker in Christchurch took 12 girls from
8 to 10 years old to help make very fine gold chains -
The town received 1/6 per week for each child [about £5 in today’s money}