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Year 5 quiz Henry VIII during trip to Burghley House

Published on 27/02/19

Year 5 pupils from the Stephen Perse Junior School stepped back in time to experience Tudor life at Burghley House. 

In unseasonably warm weather conditions, Year 5 arrived at school on Tuesday 26 February looking as if they had stepped straight out of the Tudor era. On arrival at Burghley House everyone was led into The Great Hall. Despite the mild temperatures and blue skies outdoors, the 450 year old building remained quite cool so the fire burning in the magnificent hearth was a welcoming sight.

When Henry VIII himself strode with great importance into the Hall, pupils had the chance to become jurors in a trial of the Tudor king, with Mrs Marty presiding as judge. After putting a lot of searching questions to Henry and weighing up the evidence, Year 5 cast their votes. It seems that many of the pupils were either convinced by the monarch’s arguments or were wisely voting in the King’s favour to avoid execution. Nevertheless, on the final count of whether the Tudor king had made good judgements in his treatment of his wives, our pupils overwhelmingly rejected his decisions and King Henry VIII was found guilty.

A visit to the kitchen and a re-creation of a feast provided food for thought, particularly the differences between rich and poor people's fare, what it was like to be a spit boy and the origin of the term ‘upper crust’. We also learnt how to entertain ourselves Tudor-style, with games such as Lord Bean and Execution.

After lunch everyone gathered in a gloomy candlelit room to meet Dr Mort - a Tudor physician. Pupils were spellbound as they listened to him talk about the diseases people caught and how they were treated. To reduce her temperature a leech was placed on a pupil's arm to suck out the blood. Another pupil, sadly suffering from earache, had to hold a warm onion against his ear. Luckily this was a highly successful cure! Grinding the bark from a birch tree, mixing it with water and drinking was offered as a cure for a headache but no-one seemed keen to try. We learnt that the more extreme measure of taking a piece of rope that had been used to hang a man and placing it on your head should definitely work. One pupil was horrified to discover that the stone of a swallow, placed on his arm to cure madness, was magically absorbed into his body. Whether or not it cured his madness remains to be seen. By the end of the day all agreed that we appreciate modern medicine! One pupil commented,

‘This has made me realise that I will never mind going to the doctor’s again’.

Year 5 pupils really enjoyed the day and gained a helpful insight into Tudor life. They have been well prepared for their next piece of work, which will involve writing their own Tudor remedies.


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