On Thursday 6th October we stepped back in time and arrived at school dressed in Victorian-style clothing rather than our usual uniforms. We were all very excited to be heading to Wisbech Castle for the day and boarded the minibuses quickly.
On arrival we discovered that it is not a castle at all but actually a Regency villa, named Wisbech Castle by the Victorians as it is on the site of a long gone castle. Richard from CEES met us and took us in through the front door before explaining the day ahead. We were to go into the back garden and knock politely on the back door where we would be met by the butler, Mr Grafton.
Mr Grafton lined us up in the downstairs hallway and explained that he was delighted to see that we were applying for the posts of scullery maid (in the case of the girls) and boot boy. He then set us to task. We had four tasks to complete, two of them marked by the senior servants (aka our teachers) out of 20. The applicants with the highest score out of 40 would be offered the jobs!
We loved making a pie crust using real pastry and decorated them with great care. Setting the table for a ‘light four course lunch’ was a bit more challenging as there were so many items of cutlery and crockery to put int the right places and facing the right way – not only that but there were different sizes! The most challenging part of the table setting was the napkin folding. Some of us managed to end up with something that looked like the crown that Mr Grafton had demonstrated but others ended up with a heap of white linen napkin!
We also got to use a posser, dolly and washboard to wash some rags. The highlight of this was the dangerous task of using the mangle. No fingers were squashed because we had listened carefully and were very careful!
After we had eaten our packed lunches, we got the opportunity to play in the garden with some Victorian toys. The stilts proved to be very popular, as did the hoops and sticks which took some concentration and perseverance. We also had a go at skipping with a long rope. Millie held the record of the highest number of skips; she jumped for so long that we lost count!
Our final task was to try to work out what different objects in the parlour were used for. There was a very old looking pump-action vacuum cleaner as well as an object that lots of us recognised from an Oxford Reading Tree book called ‘The Whatsit’ – it was a real-life ‘whatsit’ which was actually a wool winder!
We had a fabulous day and Mr Grafton chose Anna to be the scullery maid and Harrison was to be the boot boy. Both were slightly concerned at the thought of returning on Monday morning at 5.30am to start work. The wages of £13 per year for the scullery maid and £9 per year for the boot boy didn’t sound very generous for such hard work and the hours of 5.30am to 10.30pm daily sounded tiring. Luckily Mr Grafton changed back to being Richard and he told us that we were back in 2016 so there was no need to come back on Monday!
We had a fabulous day and didn’t even fall asleep on the way home because we were still so excited! We were sad to learn that Wisbech Castle is being sold by the county council and that it’s future for education purposes is uncertain. We were the last booked school group and did LJS proud by behaving beautifully throughout.
Both Year 2 classes and the Year 2 staff arrived at school dressed in Victorian-style clothing this morning. 2H headed off to Wisbech Castle to experience life as trainee servants in a Victorian home whilst 2W had a taste of what it would be like to be a schoolchild in Victorian times. We don’t want to reveal too much more at this stage as the children have all promised to keep the details of their day secret form the other class until after Thursday when 2H will have a Victorian school day and 2W will go to Wisbech Castle. Watch this space for photos and more information on Thursday!
Having worked hard all day, Mr Grafton gathered us all together in the parlour to tell us who had been lucky enough to be appointed as scullery maid and boot boy. The new recruits were delighted but looked less sure of what they were letting themselves in for when they heard they would have to report for duty at 5.30am, 7 days a week and work until 10pm every day except for Sunday when they would be allowed to visit their parents in the afternoon as long as they had been good…
In the parlour there were lots of interesting and exciting objects to identify. Some were more familiar than others!
We returned to school happy but exhausted after our day of hard graft.
Mr Grafton the butler decided that we had worked so hard all morning that we would have the chance to play with some Victorian toys before our well-earned lunch. We had an amazing time! There were no iPads, iPods, Ds devices or anything else electronic but we absolutely loved running around with our friends.
Ben – I liked the toys. I liked the hoops and sticks best.
Sophie – My favourite was the stilts.
Samuel – My favourite thing was playing with the cup and ball outside.
Honor – I loved playing with the hoop and stick. It was very hard to do it.
Rupert A – I loved the hobby horses – they were great fun!
Ralph – I was good on the wooden horse.
Matthew – I really liked playing with the cup and ball.
Josh – I liked playing on the stilts.
Joseph – My favourite thing was playing with all of the Victorian toys.
Grace – I liked playing with the Victorian toys. I liked the stilts. I felt happy when I got there.
Coco – My favourite thing was playing with the toys especially the hoop and stick.
Archie K – I liked playing with the Victorian toys just like the hoop and stick.
Eliza – I liked playing with the Victorian toys.
Our table laying task was more complicated than we first thought. It was for a light four course lunch, including a fish course and wine, so three different plates were needed as well as three different types of knives – a butter knife, a fish knife and a dinner knife. We had to be very careful with the real china plates and real wine glasses. Our senior servants (normally our teachers and TAs) looked a little nervous! We also had to fold a napkin neatly. Some of us got to try folding a napkin into the shape of a crown – not easy but look how well we did! Here is what we thought!
Sam – I liked setting up the table.
Luke – My favourite thing was setting the table because Mrs. Wallace got to say a score out of 20. Me and Oliver tried our hardest.
Marie-Anna – I really liked laying the table!
Bobby – My favourite bit was all of it! I liked setting up the table.
Making a pie crust proved to be a very popular activity. We were given a ball of pastry and were tasked with rolling it out and stretching it over the back of a tea plate to represent a pie. We then had to crimp the edges to look pretty and use the leftover pastry to decorate our pies. Some of us thought about what might be inside them and made pigs (pork pie), apples (no need to explain) or cherries for the top. Others simply decorated them with pretty shapes. We were rather proud of our efforts!
Here’s what we had to say about the pie making:-
Rupert O’B – My favourite thing was making the pie crust. I was scared at first but it was fun.
Candela – I liked making the pie crust!
Ellie-Bella – I liked the part where you had to make a pie crust. I felt a little nervous but then I did not feel nervous at all.
Oliver R – My favourite things were the pie crust and the Victorian toys.
Oliver C – I liked making the pie crust.
Amrita – my favourite thing was making the pie crust. I made a face and it was beautiful. I got 18 out of 20.
Lots of us really enjoyed using a posser to wash the clothes and scrubbing them on the washboard before putting them through the mangle (safely!) and hanging them carefully on the clothes horse. The soap had to be swished around in the water from a special wire basket. We decided it must have been really hard work doing all the washing without electricity. Here are our thoughts about the washing:-
Poppy – I liked the washing. I was a bit afraid when I was using the mangle but I did it!
Harry – My favourite bit was the washing.
Eva – I liked the washing and using the mangle. I liked rubbing the clothes.
Alec – I was terrified when I had to do the mangle but I soon did it and I found that it wasn’t that bad at all!
Monty – I love Wisbech Castle. My favourite was the mangle. It was great fun. First I was scared then it wasn’t bad at all.
Archie W – I was scared but it was fun!
Yesterday was finally the day that Year Two have been waiting for – trip day! We excitedly boarded the coach to Wisbech Castle and set off for the day. It had been rather strange getting ready for school in the morning as, instead of wearing our usual school uniforms, we were wearing Victorian style clothing. When we arrived we met Richard who explained what would happen. In ICT this afternoon we used Publisher to record our thoughts and feelings. They will appear on the next few posts…