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Orders to be observed by the Poor in the Doncaster workhouse

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This non-fiction text is a genuine historical document dated pre-1834. It comprises the rules of the Doncaster workhouse and shows the weekly menu. It is useful for language analysis, in that it provides examples of the use of the imperative and contains formal/impersonal language and vocabulary of the 19th century.


Before reading

  • Elicit information about the Victorian period. Construct a mind map of important dates/themes.
  • Read Leaflet 1 and On-screen resource 2 which provide valuable background information about this period.
  • Watch clips from films set in Victorian times – eg, Oliver Twist.
  • Discuss the text layout. Identify the text type and its typical features – numbered points, formal language, tabular information.

Guided reading

  • Discuss the style of the written rules – eg, highly elaborate and sounding awkward compared to modern day speech. (‘shall have occasion to employ…’) and old-fashioned and formal in style.
  • Discuss unfamiliar words (eg, revilings) and suggest meanings which fit the sentence context.
  • Explore how word meanings can change in different contexts – eg, ‘no bitterness’ instead of ‘arguments’.
  • Decide what is meant by unusual words in the menu – eg, quart, flesh meat, roots, pudding broth, pease porridge, furmity.
  • Read the rules carefully and decide what each one means in modern-day English.
  • Give the children the word search on the activity sheet below, which challenges them to find words from the poster linked to modern-day meanings.
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  1. toms Sko online
    on 9 July 2015

    toms Sko online

    over five consecutive weeks or more, at any time through the year, by email or over the phone.