The Guildford Spike, linked with but deliberately separated from the nearby Guildford workhouse, was a ward for vagrants. In return for an overnight stay in squalid conditions, vagrants had to do basic manual work before, typically, going on their way to the next Spike. George Orwell gave a vivid picture of his experience of the Godstone Spike in ‘Down and Out in Paris and London.’ The poor law regime which governed the Spike came to an end in 1929 but the Guildford Spike continued to operate until the 1960’s when it became a storehouse for St Luke’s hospital, a history which has enabled it to be a rare survival, now open to the public. Visiting is an eye opener on the relatively recent past and at a time when, arguably, we are not much nearer being able to deal satisfactorily with homelessness and vagrancy, seems to gain in relevance.
7.00 – 7.30 assemble (there is parking) glass of wine and an introduction to the site.
7.30 – 9.00 Presentation, film, guided tour. These will go more fully into the history and experience.
9.00 approx. Refreshments.
The evening should finish by 9.30.
The site is fully accessible.
Likely cost (to be finalised) is £8 per head which we hope will enable us to make a donation to this fascinating institution.
To reserve a place for this visit please contact Tony Pratt firstname.lastname@example.org or 07947358283. More details will be provided to party members nearer the time.