The “Pauper’s Palace” of Grove Park

Marvel’s Lane Clinic, Grove Park SE12 is just around the corner from me. When idly Googling the history of it, I found this 1902 magazine article being sold.

It does appear to be the 1900s equivalent of the Daily Mail complaining about TVs in prisons, but nonetheless – it’s interesting to see a glimpse of the building in what appears to be its original form. All five acres of it, with spacious courtyards and magnificent dining halls!

The OCR’d text is below, and the whole article as a PDF is here.

A Pauper’s Palace Without a Pauper

Black and White Budget, Jan 18 1902

A QUARTER of a million is a large sum to spend on a workhouse, but when it turns out that there is not a pauper to fill any of the palatial rooms, the ratepayers have good reason to pull out their-pocket-handkerchiefs and tear their hair.

This monument to the folly, of the Local Government Board is situated at Lee, on the left-hand side of a prettily wooded road leading to Grove Park from under the railway. The awe-inspiring entrance is worthy of Kensington Palace, with a chaste colour scheme of red and white brickwork, which certainly does in- finite credit to the architect. Covering at least five acres of ground, the buildings are fitted up with the utmost luxury. As one walks along the corridors one sees neat little lavatories, presumably with hot and cold water, which any undergraduate at Oxford would be only too glad to have on his College staircase. Two magnificent dining-halls with a private chapel are also attached for the convenience of the inmates, while the spacious courtyards are worthy of a medieval monastery.

The present Greenwich Board of Guardians are so furious with the Local Government Board for forcing their predecessors to build this white elephant, that on November 25th they passed a resolution to the.effect that the workhouse should be sold. 

I happened to be passing the building the other day, and, as no one prevented me,looked around. It seemed to me admirably suited for the English home of an American millionaire. Surely some one will step in and relieve the poor Greenwich’ ratepayers from this ridiculous burden. Or why not use it as a hotel in Coronation time? Three guineas: a week would be quite a small sum to charge for accommodation in such luxurious quarters.

My readers may think that this description is exaggerated, but if so they can go and look for themselves. ‘Dagonet,” in the Referee, once described the magnificence of the Marylebone Union with righteous indignation. I wonder what he would say if he paid a visit to this new Pauper’s: Palace at Lee!