Main Curriculum Focus
"What effects did changing events, individuals and monarchs of the Medieval and Tudor periods have on the everyday lives of men, women and children from different sections of society?"
Expert Team: Curators of a Tudor Merchant’s House
Client(s): National Heritage
To restore a Tudor merchant’s house fallen on hard times, to research its history and attract more visitors
In this context the students will create a Tudor manor house, built in 1509, with a colourful and exciting history. Rumours are that Henry VIII had secret meetings here with Anne Boleyn before his divorce from Catherine of Aragon. And the family of the house were secret Catholics after the reformation and had a priest hole built to hide a catholic priest.
The house though has fallen on hard times, narrowly avoiding demolition in the 1960’s, and is now a rather rundown and ignored museum. The commission of the new curators is to restore the house to something like its former glories and attract new visitors by researching its interesting past and large number of historical artefacts.
Surprisingly, although there are vast number of good topic books on the Tudor period and the Tudor monarchs, there is only one good book, for children, on life in a Tudor house. Similarly, the web is not much help, although the BBC Online Class Clips website does have some interesting short films. The best source of information on this subject is the National Trust guidebooks. For research on this unit we used two in particular, Oxburgh Hall and Cotehele House, you can buy them both online through Amazon.
Although Oxburgh Hall has been much modernised since the 16th Century it has a number of architectural features to grab children’s imagination. In particular, a moat, a fortified gateway and a priest hole hidden behind a medieval toilet. Interestingly, it also has a tapestry sewn by the exile Mary Queen of Scots, made during her imprisonment at Tutbury Castle. Cotehele House, although it does not have such a colourful historical past it is essentially unchanged since the Tudor period and is a much better example of early Tudor interiors.