Epworth Poor House
Here on Queen Street is the former site of the Epworth Poor House, which was the setting for several gruesome murders in the 1790’s. Inhabitants of the house, including children died suddenly. The cook, Poll Pilsworth, blamed the wheat which had gone off. However, the maid reported that she had been sent by the cook a few days before to buy arsenic from the local chemist. This was not unusual as during this period arsenic had many uses including as a medicine and in agriculture. A local doctor stated that he believed the inhabitants to have been poisoned, this was enough evidence for the Epworth locals. They did not want to wait for a trail to take place and instead decided to execute Poll. On hearing this news Poll took poison herself. Locals dragged her body into the street and laid it in a coffin on a sled which was dragged by a horse to the cemetery. Eyewitness reports from newspapers at the time say when the coffin was lowered into the ground the lid came loose and Poll was seen to open her eyes. Worried that she may return, two local men drove stakes through her body and into the ground. Today there is no marker to indicate Poll’s final resting place in Epworth cemetery.
Image and text copyright Isle of Axholme and Hatfield Chase Landscape Partnership.