Rasen area youngsters asked to ‘lend their faces’ to bring workhouse children to life in new heritage video

Market Rasen Community Partnership has teamed up with the Market Rasen Mail to ask local children to ‘lend their faces’ to a new heritage video currently in production.
Photos will be created into watercoloursPhotos will be created into watercolours
Photos will be created into watercolours

The video focuses on real-life Victorian children from the local workhouse and the Willingham lady who helped them, Louisa Boucherett.

“The scheme pioneered by Louisa to help these children was called Boarding Out, and she was among the first people in the UK to try this approach,” said the video’s creator Angela Montague, of Market Rasen-based production company Push Creativity.

“Boarding Out was a forerunner of the foster care system that is used worldwide today, so we’re very keen that the importance of Louisa’s work and the workhouse children’s stories are known by a much wider audience.”

Gail Dennis will be reading Louisa's lettersGail Dennis will be reading Louisa's letters
Gail Dennis will be reading Louisa's letters

Angela continued: “Because these were extremely poor children from the 1860s, we don’t have any photographs of them to use in the video, so we are asking today’s children, of the same age and from the same area of Lincolnshire, to ‘lend their faces’ to the children of the past and help their stories be heard.”

In the video, the part of Louisa Boucherett will be played by volunteer Gail Dennis of the Lindsey Rural Players (pictured right), who will read through original letters and papers to tell the story in Louisa’s own words.

The photos modern children provide will be given a watercolour effect (using editing software) and will appear in the video alongside descriptions of the workhouse children they represent.

Project manager Nicola Marshall said the video is part of a wider project focusing on local history, adding to the existing Market Rasen Heritage Tour website as part of six new stories that focus on Wolds Women of Influence.

She said: “The new stories are based on a real-world exhibition of the same name that was held at Market Rasen’s Old Police Station in the summer of 2018.

“The original Wolds Women of Influence project was very successful.

“In 2019 we took the exhibition, with a supporting talk, to Woodhall Spa Museum, Spilsby Franklin Hall and Caistor Arts and Heritage Centre, in addition to the original exhibition and talks at Market Rasen Old Police Station.

“All these events had a brilliant reception and interest from a wide range of people.

“The Market Rasen Heritage Tour is an ideal platform for the Wolds Women of Influence stories, giving them a permanent home online and giving visitors another reason to come to Market Rasen and explore its heritage by finding the plaques about town.”

Nicola added: “We are grateful to Market Rasen Community Partnership and Lincolnshire County Council for supporting and funding this development.

Our group is delighted that Louisa’s story is now going to be told through video and cannot wait to see how the modern children’s faces will be used to bring the workhouse children to life.”

The existing tour website already holds 14 stories about Market Rasen and can be explored at www.marketrasenheritagetour.co.uk along with the 14 plaques in place about the town that provide the companion walking tour. The six new stories and plaques, including Louisa’s video, will be added with a full launch in the summer.

The Wolds Women of Influence project can also be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/woldswomen

The modern-day children whose photos are used in the project will be fully credited at the end of the video, and, as a thank you, each will receive a 35x28cm (14x11 inch) poster print of their photograph with the watercolour effect, along with a sweet treat from the high street.


Ten of the 25 children Louisa worked with will be featured in the video.

Their names and ages are:

Jane Hustle (13), Ellen Bussel (11), Emily Phillips (11), Louisa Charlotte Phillips (9), Cecilia (11), George Carr (11), William Carr (13), Samuel Ensor (nine), Thomas Russel (12), William French (16).

From Louisa’s letters, there are glimpses of the hardships the children went through and the opportunities the Boarding Out scheme gave them.

The researchers behind the Wolds Women of Influence project, historian Dr Caroline Mogg and volunteer local history researcher Angela Wilson, think it is likely many descendants of these workhouse children still live locally.

Caroline and Angela are keen to hear from you if you think you have a connection.

Use the project’s email address– [email protected] to get in touch if you believe any of these children are among your great-great-great-grandparents.

How to enter the competition and some helpful tips to get noticed


Your photo needs to represent a workhouse child from Victorian times, so it is really important you do not wear anything modern or luxurious, so no glasses, hoodies or jewellery!

Search the internet with your parent or guardian to find images of Victorian children who were poor, or watch TV programmes like Horrible Histories, to see what hairstyles they may have had, or the clothing worn.

Although people in Victorian

photographs tended to look serious, your photograph will be transformed into an illustration, as if an artist was there to paint the workhouse child at the time, so you can look more relaxed and even smile if you wish. But if you would rather look serious to feel more Victorian, that is also OK!


Like the example above, please take the photograph in front of a plain wall, close to the face but including all the head and neck area. Best results are with an even, natural light on all sides of the face – outside may well be best. Do not use the flash.

If using a smartphone, help the phone set focus and lighting by tapping your child’s face on-screen before you take the shot.

Email the photo at the highest resolution possible.


Children should be close in age to the workhouse children listed.

Photos must be digital and submitted by the child’s parent/guardian to: [email protected], along with the child’s full name, age and home address.

Clsoing date: Monday May 24.

Only one entry per child.

Winners will be selected at random (from images that fit the criteria) and contacted by email. They will also be announced in the Market Rasen Mail in June.

Each winner will receive a 35x28cm (14x11 inch) poster print of their photograph with the watercolour effect, plus a confectionery treat.

Each winning child’s image and full name will be used in the video (on the Market Rasen Heritage Tour website and YouTube channel) and may also be used for publicity purposes (online, print and broadcast).

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