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'Speke-ing' of History...

As part of Year 8’s study of the Tudors, 8S1 were lucky enough to visit Speke Hall manor house for the day.

The National Trust

Year 8 trip to Speke Hall

As part of Year 8’s study of the Tudors, 8S1 were lucky enough to visit Speke Hall manor house for the day.  Out of the whole group, only a handful of pupils had already visited Speke Hall and therefore the experience for most was a new one.  The journey there for the pupils was only quite short as Speke is situated on the outskirts of Liverpool.  On approach, the general feeling was that everyone was surprised by the vast landscape surrounding the house and at how big Speke Hall appeared.

Dressing upOnce we arrived inside the education room, the group was split in two and assigned an expert tour guide each.  The start of our Tudor tour began in the Great Hall, an original feature of the house that dates back to the 16th century and designed by the first occupants, the Norris family.  Here the boys and teachers got the feel for Tudor entertainment and participated in some traditional Tudor dancing which was enjoyed by all!

On our tour around other rooms a lot of pupils noticed the construction of the house.  The levels of the floors and ceilings were uneven and clearly lacking in the building techniques of modern day.  Nevertheless, the design and detail of every room was exquisite and clearly a reflection of the Norris’ prosperity.  It was clear to the boys that the extensive number of windows in the house was also related to the wealth of the families at Speke Hall.  In fact, when asked what one of the most interesting facts that they found out during the day was they said, ‘It was fascinating that the families would actually take out the windows when they left the house in case of robbery’.  It put into perspective just how affluent this family was.

Dressing upInside the house, one of the features which caught the pupils attention the most was the spy hole, the eavesdrop and the priest hole.  One of the boys commented, ‘I can’t believe how smart they were in Tudor times’.  All these parts of the house showed us how modern technology has developed over time and also how protective they were of the people living in their house.  In addition it illustrated to the boys how seriously they viewed religion in Tudor times and how they would go to any length to protect their priests.

Before lunch both groups also had an opportunity to go outside and see the gardens and landscape surrounding the manor house.  The tour guides were excellent in explaining the positioning of the house in relation to surrounding features e.g. Liverpool John Lennon Airport and explaining the amount of land that was once possessed by the Norris family.  One pupil commented, ‘I can’t believe this is only 6 per cent of the land that they owned’.  The boys found it particularly intriguing to find out how the design on the outside of the house was formed and thought that the black and white effect was still very charming.

After dinner we separated into our two groups again and were taught in more detail about Tudor life.  Both groups participated in making their own pomander to show them a way in which Tudor people kept themselves and the areas around them smelling fresh.  In addition to this they were given an insight to Tudor food, what and how they would eat.  Some of the pupils described this as the best part of the day because they were able to hold and look at the types of cutlery and instruments they would use.  Some of the pieces offered a resemblance to modern day cutlery whilst others were a far cry from anything we know today!

The final part of the day involved both groups coming together and sampling Tudor dress.  Two lucky boys volunteered and became a Tudor girl and boy.  Whilst this proved highly amusing for us all and an opportunity for plenty of photographs, it also gave the boys a perspective on how important clothes were in Tudor times and how they too mirrored the detail and elegance of the house.  Overall, these activities in the afternoon will prove a considerable help to the pupils when we come to look at Tudor life in more depth in our future lessons.  

On the whole, 8S1’s trip to Speke Hall was a really big success.  All of the pupils had a really good day and many even said that they would love to go back again and see the all the other rooms that were not specifically linked to the Tudor era.

Group photograph outside Speke Hall

Experiences of Speke Hall by: Laura Corcoran, Connor Robson, Joe Cook, William Richards and Thomas McGinn