Museums for schools - Key Stage 2 (KS2) activities

Victorian living history at Haden Hill House

Living history is the best way of learning about the past. In this session pupils learn about children from different social backgrounds in Victorian times.

Will the children be an urchin, a servant or a lady or gentleman? A day of costumed role-play activities set within a storyline designed to cover the national curriculum where children are given an insight into the lives of children from three different social backgrounds, living in the middle of the nineteenth century.

Children from different social backgrounds in Victorian times

At the time of our story, the fictional owner of Haden Hill House is Mr Sylvester J Thompson, an elderly widower and philanthropist who has made his money through coal mining and investment in transport. He is a reclusive man but is a caring great uncle and sympathetic to the plight of the poor. This particular morning in 1855 sees three distincly different groups of children occupying his residence and grounds.

  1. The first consist of his great nieces and nephews, who are staying while their parents are on the grand tour. These children will spend the morning with the governess or tutor who will teach them to mind their Ps and Qs, to learn deportment and other accomplishments.
  2. The second are downstairs servants aiming to rise up the domestic ladder to upstairs servants. These children lean about domestic life and knowing your place as a servant, they work with the Housekeeper or Steward of the house who is very strict!
  3. The third group are paupers from the workhouse who are sometimes employed in menial tasks at the house in return for the master's donation to the institution. These poor wretches work with Crudice, who is an old family retainer who has a big stick!

Each child is given a costume befitting their status and the day is undertaken in role and in character within a storyline - 'The day in the life of a Victorian household'. The different experiences of the children give much scope for discussion and follow up work back at school. The activities also produce some items which can be taken back to school.

The children do not change roles as this would be confusing and disrupt the sense of being immersed in the past and actually 'becoming Victorians'. It is also time consuming to change children into costume which would limit activity time. Also children at this age should benefit from the opportunity of discussing their feelings and experiences.

The afternoon session involves a short workshop to emphasise the mornings role play, a brief tour of the house to visit the areas they have not seen and a trip to the museum shop.

Booking your school visit

  • To book your school visit telephone the house on 01384 569 444 or to check availability. Staff are usually available on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
  • If staff are not available when you phone please leave a message and someone will get back to you as soon as possible.
  • You can also make initial enquiries via e-mail at museumarts_tourism@sandwell.gov.uk. However please state which site and session you are looking to book for and what date or dates you are interested in.
  • You can also e-mail or telephone us if you are interested in organising a one off project with us or the information contained in the links above does not tell you what you need to know at  museumarts_tourism@sandwell.gov.uk.
  • We are available for visits from school groups from February to December.


     Cost: Find out our education session charges - absolute maximum 36 children per session.