2014: Year of the Georgians

Date Posted: 10/04/2014

Ladies at Ickworth.

Pictured: Ladies in Georgian dress at Ickworth (photo credit: National Trust).

Ideas for school trips to explore the UK’s Georgian and Regency heritage in the year that marks the 300th anniversary of the Hanoverian accession to the British throne.

A flamboyant seaside palace, sophisticated stately homes displaying the legacy of architect Robert Adam, one of Britain’s best-loved authors and a royal chocolate-making kitchen open to the public for the very first time, are among the many ways to study the Georgians.

2014 marks the 300th anniversary of the Hanoverian accession to the British throne and provides a timely opportunity to organise a Georgian-themed school visit.

A right royal day out

Throughout this year Historic Royal Palaces will bring the colourful Georgian Court and monarchs to life across three of its properties; Hampton Court, Kensington and Kew palaces.

At Hampton Court school groups will be intrigued to find out that kings are no different from anyone else when it comes to having a sweet tooth.

The newly opened royal chocolate-making kitchen - the only surviving one of its kind in the UK - was used to prepare drinking chocolate for George I and II. It was only recently uncovered after being used as a store room for many years.

In addition to displays of cooking equipment and silverware that was used to serve chocolate, the kitchen will host demonstrations to show how chocolate was made fit for a king.

Students will also be able to find out about the life of Georgian courtiers with new exhibitions in the lesser-known baroque half of the palace.

On a visit to the state apartments at Kensington Palace schools can immerse themselves in the court of George II and Queen Caroline.

They will explore the heyday of the palace, in the decade from 1727-37, when the king and queen entertained in lavish style, much to the delight of the attending courtiers who missed the spectacle of court life during George I’s more private reign.

Dressing up in Georgian costume.

Pictured: Dressing up in Georgian costume.

Music, gambling tables and a ‘smell map’ of the court will provide pupils with a multi-sensory experience.

There is also a new educational workshop at the palace for KS1-3. In the creative writing session, Tales of Wonder, pupils get involved in a Georgian mystery.

Using portraits of court characters they become story detectives as they walk through the palace finding clues to solve the mystery.

At Kew Palace the story continues with the domestic life of George III, Charlotte and their children.

The displays focus on the less well known childhood of George III, his interests and influences. Pupils on a school visit may be particularly interested in seeing pages from his school book showing his maths exercises.

Past times at Painshill

This restored Georgian landscape garden at Cobham in Surrey provides a great setting to fire children’s imaginations.

Created by the politician, the Honourable Charles Hamilton, between 1738 and 1773, it includes amazing follies, such the crystal grotto which is always a highlight for a school visit.

Pupils can travel back in time and dress up in Georgian costume to find out how people used to live.

A genteel promenade around the Painshill landscape provides drama, sketching and photographic opportunities and school groups can find out how their counterparts from this period entertained themselves by playing Georgian games including 18th century croquet, bowling, skipping games, and battledore and shuttlecock - a precursor of modern badminton.

Painshill provides outdoor learning for single classes and whole year groups throughout the year and the 158-acre estate has an education centre and woodland picnic area.

Bath’s Georgian and Regency heritage

Bath is famous for its rich Georgian and Regency heritage. To commemorate the Georgians the city’s Fashion Museum is hosting a special exhibition, Georgians: 18th century dress for polite society.

Hampton Court Palace performers

Pictured: Performers at Hampton Court Palace.

Running until the end of 2014, the new exhibition displays a selection of the finest fashions worn by those attending the glittering social occasions of the time.

In addition to 30 original outfits from the museum’s collection, it features 18th century-inspired fashions by famous contemporary designers including Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen.

The museum offers a range of visits, from self-guided activities to teaching sessions where topics include fashions past and present and how designers through the ages have embellished fabric with details such as ruching, gathering and smocking.

Georgian society and its preoccupations have been portrayed in the novels of writers such as Henry Fielding, Mary Shelley and Jane Austen.

The former lived in Bath from 1801 to 1806 and the Jane Austen Centre caters for all ages, with talks and sessions about the author’s time in the city.

A visit to the centre can be followed by a Persuasion or Northanger Abbey walking tour, which offers an interactive way of bringing her novels to life.

Five more Georgian gems

  • Eastnor Castle: Dramatically situated in the foothills of the Malverns in Herefordshire, Eastnor is a fairytale Georgian castle built in medieval style. The foundation stone was laid in 1812, and in 2012 the castle won the Georgian Group’s annual award for the best restoration of a Georgian country house.
  • Ickworth House: This extraordinary Italianate palace, with its curved corridors and imposing central rotunda, was built by the eccentric 4th Earl of Bristol. Set in parkland near Bury St Edmonds in Suffolk, highlights include a collection of Georgian silver.
  • Kedleston Hall: North of Derby, the hall is stunning example of the work of Robert Adam, the most prominent country house architect in Georgian England. Designed for lavish entertaining, it was used as a key location for The Duchess film starring Keira Knightley.
  • Royal Pavilion: With its onion domes and minarets Brighton’s Royal Pavilion is one of the most instantly recognisable landmarks in east Sussex. This exotic palace was built for Prince Regent, later George IV, as his seaside fun palace.
  • Saltram House: One of Britain’s best preserved examples of an early Georgian mansion, this elegant stately home near Plymouth provides an insight to life on a country estate. Home of the Parker family for more than 300 years, pupils can discover correspondence between Frances, the first countess, and Jane Austen.
School Travel Organiser's Guide