(Above) Pupils from Balfour Junior School in Tudor costume at Anne of Cleves House. All photos © Rachel Hayward/Culture24
It's not just the bigger museums and heritage sites that offer a great curriculum-linked package for schools. Culture24's Learners and Teachers' Web Editor, Rachel Hayward, joined a Year 4 class from Balfour Junior School at Anne of Cleves House in Lewes.
If you're studying a topic such as the Tudors with your class, the best way for the children to get a real understanding of the subject is to head to an historic house and Balfour Junior School did just that with their Year 4. A short train ride away from the school is Anne of Cleves House - a perfect time-travelling location.
(Above) An etching of Anne of Cleves by Wenceslaus Hollar, after Hans Holbein the Younger, at the National Portrait Gallery, London. © National Portrait Gallery
Anne of Cleves House
Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived… goes the famous rhyme to help pupils learn the fate of Henry VIII's wives. Anne of Cleves was one of the lucky ones. Married for only a matter of months as Henry's third wife, the king granted her a divorce after she didn't live up to her portrait. Click on the link for images of Anne of Cleves in the National Portrait Gallery's online collection.
Anne of Cleves House in Lewes, East Sussex was part of Anne's divorce settlement from Henry VIII in 1541. The dwelling is a timber-framed house dating from the 15th century. There is also a local history museum and herb garden on site.
Head upstairs at Anne of Cleves House to the Tudor dressed bedroom.
A multi-sensory Tudor experience
What was special for Balfour Junior School pupils, staff and parents on the trip was a real sense of stepping back in time at Anne of Cleves House and experiencing the sights, sounds - and some of the smells of the 15th century. This was particularly helpful for some follow-up creative writing intended for later, back at school.
Grinding up the herbs with a pestle and mortar in the kitchen at Anne of Cleves House.
Writing a menu for a Tudor banquet.
During our day at Anne of Cleves House, we were treated to a background talk on Tudor cooking complete with artefact handling and herb making in the kitchen and the pupils re-enacted the Six Wives of Henry VIII in the East Room. We also had a guided tour upstairs in the bedroom which really gave us the feel of life in a Tudor home.
"Off with her head!" Pupils from Balfour Junior School re-enact an execution during their drama workshop.
Pupils enjoyed the variety of activities on offer especially the hands-on ones such as making their herb bags and dressing up in Tudor costume and getting into character.
And mum makes two. Coming along on a school trip gives parents a chance to get involved in their child's topic.
Whatever the weather - you're covered
It was a wet, wintery day for our visit, so we were very glad to get out of the rain and into the house. The Herb Garden may have been off limits due to the weather but as we were the only group at Anne of Cleves House, we were able to use the East Room to meet up in, have lunch in and role play in.
Heading back to school after a great day out at Anne of Cleves House, Lewes.
Anne of Cleves House - Education
School groups get Anne of Cleves House all to themselves during their visit, which means that pupils are made to feel very special.
The education department offers activities that include artefact handling, drama, craft, storytelling and hands on activities to support the curriculum up to and including key stage 3. Each session is usually one hour although the timetable is flexible and the staff are happy to tailor make sessions to fit a topic or age-group. The Tudor activities on offer at Anne of Cleves House are:
Six Wives of Henry VIII Drama Session
Living in a Tudor House
Tudor Artefact Handling
Contact Anne of Cleves House to book your visit. You will find full details on the Sussex Past website, including costs, risk assessment details and free preliminary visit information.
Thank you to Tony Jones, Headteacher, and Laura Gibbons, Year 4 teacher, at Balfour Junior School for allowing me to cover the school trip and also to Edwina Livesey and Alison Bell at Anne of Cleves House for such an inspiring day.