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St Thomas Poor Law Union was formed on 21st April 1836.
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18 houses pay tax (one a double tenement), 28 cottages exempt. Price of provisions has greatly increased in the last two years; the Poor cannot purchase meat at less than 4½d. It was designed by Sampson Kempthorne who was also the architect for other Devon workhouses at Axminster, Barnstaple, Exeter, Okehampton, South Molton, and Torrington.
The men are wholly employed in agriculture; the women make lace and spin. Two pounds an acre seems about the average rent, but the landlord pays all Poor's Rates, taxes and repairs, computed at 5s. It accommodated 450 inmates and the total cost, including 3.5 acres of land, was about £11,000.
It closed in 1990 but in 1996 it was operating as Redhills House Day Centre for mental patients, under Exeter Community Health Trust, before its redevelopment for residential use.
In October 1908, the union bought a house known as Chase Villa at 49-51 Church Road, Exeter. Children from the home originally attended St Thomas Girls and Infants School in Union Street, built in 1873, or the girls and infants school in Okehampton Road, which opened in 1891.