12 May 2017

J. T. Becher, Lord Byron, and the Workhouse, Southwell, Nottinghamshire

The Reverend John Thomas Becher (1770–1848) lived with his wife Mary at Hill House in Easthorpe, Southwell. He was a friend of Lord Byron's, who wrote this:

'Dear Becher, you tell me to mix with mankind;
I cannot deny such a precept is wise;
But retirement accords with the tone of my mind:
I will not descend to a world I despise.

But Becher! you’re a "reverend pastor",
Now take it in consideration,
Whether for penance I should fast,or
Pray for my "sins" in expiation.

Candour compels me, BECHER! to commend
The verse, which blends the censor with the friend;
Your strong yet just reproof extorts applause
From me, the heedless and imprudent cause;
For this wild error, which pervades my strain,
I sue for pardon,–must I sue in vain?'

Becher had a great interest in poor law and prison reform, and the workhouse at Southwell (now in the possession of the National Trust), was built to his specifications.

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