The Life of Benjamin Newell

A creative interpretation of the life of Benjamin Newell, inmate at Mitford and Launditch Union Workhouse (now Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse). Researched and created as part of the More Than Oliver Twist project by The Workhouse Network, funded by Arts Council England.

By The Workhouse Network

Illustration - Benjamin Newell (2020) by Mel RyeThe Workhouse Network

This exhibit is part of More Than Oliver Twist, which combines audio narrative and visualisations that interpret historic biographies of UK workhouse inmates from the 1881 census and relates them to 21st century lived experience. We invite you to encounter the multidimensional lives of the people known then as ‘paupers’. The work is drawn directly from the research, museum collections, workhouse buildings, volunteers’ experiences and related contemporary lives. Benjamin Newall's exhibit contains material some may find upsetting: illegitimacy, facial surgery, injury during military service and physical disability.

Illustration by Mel Rye.

Radio Interview - Benjamin Newell (2020) by Morgan TippingThe Workhouse Network

Listen to Livewire FM to hear about the life of Benjamin Newell.

Audio by Morgan Tipping.
Illustration by Mel Rye.

Illustration - Benjamin Newell (2020) by Mel RyeThe Workhouse Network

A full, referenced biography researched and written by Helen Bainbridge of Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse is available at:

Google Streetview of the exterior of Mitford and Launditch Union Workhouse, now Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse.

People's Perspective - Benjamin (2020) by Mel RyeThe Workhouse Network

Visuals by Mel Rye.

Glen on Benjamin Newell's Story (2020) by Morgan TippingThe Workhouse Network

Former soldier Glen survived 3 roadside bomb attacks in Basra, Iraq and served 3 further tours in Iraq and 2 in Afghanistan shares his thoughts on Benjamin Newell's life.

Audio and animation by Morgan Tipping.

Share Your Thoughts - Benjamin (2020) by Mel RyeThe Workhouse Network

If you have been affected by any of the issues touched upon in Benjamin's story, you may wish to explore these organisations:

Help For Heroes:

Cleft Lip and Palate Association:

Researcher's Voice - Benjamin (2020) by Mel RyeThe Workhouse Network

Visuals by Mel Rye.

Helen Bainbridge on Benjamin Newell (2020) by Morgan TippingThe Workhouse Network

Expert research volunteer Helen Bainbridge shares her insights on Benjamin Newell's life in context of the Mitford and Launditch Union Workhouse and her research process.

Audio and animation by Morgan Tipping.

Making More Than Oliver Twist (2020) by Megan DennisThe Workhouse Network

Explore behind the scenes of the Making of the More Than Oliver Twist exhibits.

Credits: Story

Enormous thanks to everyone involved in the project across the six sites who made invaluable contributions through many hours of research into the biographies, and by supporting the development of the creative commission.

In this exhibit, special thanks go to:

Site Support Officer Andy Creed for Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse discussing Benjamin Newell’s life.

Glen for sharing his perspective on Benjamin Newell's story.

Helen Bainbridge for Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse sharing her insights into the research of Benjamin Newell's story.

Regional Contacts, Mentors and Volunteer Researchers:

Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse, Norfolk Museums Service:
Regional Contact: Megan Dennis
Regional Mentors: Helen Bainbridge and Steve Pope
Research Volunteers:
Alexander Killick, Andrew Chilvers, Andy Reid, Angela Hudson, Ann Pope, Bridget Howarth, Carla Talbot, Caroline Woods, Christina Pope, Christine Barber, Clare Scott-Ison, Dauna Coppin, Denise Hickman, Diane Prentice, Elizabeth Falconbridge, Elizabeth Steele, Geoff Clark, Grant Carey, Heather Gooch, Jayne Greenacre, Jean Kemp, Jen Beaumont, Jenni Randall, Judy Kimber, Kate Thompson, Kent Prentice, Liam Parker, Linda Swallow, Lisa Kennedy, Louise Harrison, Lucy Wiles, Lydia Wilkins, Martin Harrison, Mavis Douglas, Patricia Coussens, Philip Meyers, Rachel Tobyn, Ray Taylor, Richard Johnson, Roberta Woodyatt, Sandra Delf, Sarah Welsh, Sharon Kirk, Stephanie Shearman, Stephen Douglas, Su Mose, Sue Quayle, Teresa Patti, Tony Everett and Trudi Bateman.

Thanks to the ‘radio’ host Rhys Thomas introducing Benjamin Newell’s story

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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