Beyond the Classroom

How history re-enactment is being used to encourage children's interest in the past.

Courtesy of the Lincolnshire branch of the Young Historian Scheme, a member of the Historical Re-enactment Workshop will be bringing 'life in a seventeenth-century kitchen' to Gainsborough Old Hall as part of this year's activities for the Scheme's History Day. The event to take place on November 5th will be one of many to be staged across the country in an attempt to stimulate children to take an interest in their local past.

Helen Abbotts, who normally works as part of a team of people who inhabit country houses for a day, will on this occasion be doing the job on her own, re-incarnated as a seventeenth-century house-keeper. Making use of children from schools from all over Lincolnshire, she will go about her duties centring around the kitchen. Part of the end result will be some of the children serving all the other pupils a meal. The idea is to give them a taste of history – though it is not yet certain whether they will be serving real food or plastic imitations! It depends on the logistics.

In addition, there will be the opportunity to study at first hand the architecture of the hall – a late medieval construction, largely timber-framed with a brick tower. The west-wing has been re-opened with a display that interprets the building. And there are plans to have a 'building trail' operational, whereby the children can follow a route around the house taking note of its various features.

The day represents the culmination of a host of activities that have taken place over the past twelve months in Lincolnshire. Dr Tim Lomas, the local education inspector for history, has been very supportive of the Young Historian Scheme. He points out that the county has the largest number of schools participating in any one area.

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