Day by Day, History and geography

Tudor and Elizabethan Times – our learning. 2018-2019

We spent our history lessons last year meandering slowly through Tudor and Elizabethan Britain. Living in the UK we are privileged to be surrounded by such a rich historical legacy; and must bear the grey, drizzly days which go alongside this backdrop with forbearance!

We started off with a stash of books.

Some are our generic books; I particularly like “The Story of Britain” by Patrick Lynch. We use this alongside the Usborne “History of Britain” as I’ve wanted to demonstrate how the same event can be remembered and relayed in different ways. We borrowed “Rivals for the Crown” from my book loving friend, along with the idea of history sticker books. I read Elizabeth Goudge’s “Towers in the Mist”, set in Oxford during Elizabeth’s reign. While I read extracts to the girls, it increased my own understanding of the period, as well as being a great read.

As with all our history, a lot of our learning took place out and about. The Bishop’s Palace in Wells was begun in the 1200’s but added to and lived in during the 1400’s. The Great Hall was one of the largest in the country, but its demise began during the Reformation and all that is left now are the two walls which are the backdrop of a stunning garden.

We visited “The Red Lodge” in Bristol with my book loving friend and her daughter. It was built in the 1500 by a wealthy merchant, and still has the original oak panelling. My friend pointed out that in its early days the panelling would have been pale; oak is a pale wood, and it’s only with the passing of time that it darkens to the rich colour we see today.

Montecute House, in Somerset, is a stunning example of a grand Elizabethan Manor, including a beautiful portrait gallery upstairs which runs the length of the house. As we traipsed up the stone stairs, worn down by age and use, I couldn’t help but think of all the servants who would have trod those same stairs, carrying their heavy loads. Rich tapestries hang above stone fireplaces, but I don’t think I’d swap my warm bedroom for the four poster in a draughty room.

Another fascinating National Trust property is Coughton Court, Warrickshire. This incredible home has belonged to the same family since it was built in the time of Henry Tudor. It survived the turbulent years of the Reformation, and has both a Catholic and Protestant chapel in its grounds to prove it. However, the family generally remained loyal to their Catholic roots, and .were intricately involved in the Gunpowder Plot. I could imagine the wives of the plotters sitting in one of the gracious rooms, awaiting news of their husbands. There is a priest hideaway, and a white dress which could have been the one Mary Queen of Scotts wore for her execution.

Stratford on Avon, home of William Shakespeare is rich in both Tudor and Shakespearean history. I’ve written about our inspirational visit to young William’s Schoolroom in a previous post Shakespeare’s Schoolroom – visit August 2019 but we also visited his birthplace where we enjoyed the many displays of everyday life at that time.

This was also a period of great religious upheaval and we spent quite a bit of time looking into the Reformation and trying to understand it from different perspectives.

It was also an age of exploration and it was fun to learn about some of the great explorers. We were able to embark on a short and informative voyage on the Matthew with our lovely home ed group. All aboard The Matthew October 2018

There is much more to discover, but our purpose is always to spark our children’s interest from where they will become life long history learners. And to have lots of fun and deepen our relationships with them in the process!

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