School Travel Organiser explores the new education programme at Alnwick Castle and discovers what it’s all about.
Alnwick Castle has always welcomed schools but has overhauled its educational program for 2016 with new workshops and activities.
The castle is the family home of the Duke of Northumberland and has been for the past 700 years.
The property is the second largest inhabited castle in the country and has a variety of dramas intertwined in itshistory – such as Medieval life, gunpowder plots, border wars and feuds, Georgian splendour, Victorian innovations, Florence Nightingale and World Wars.
As well as workshops for Key Stages 1, 2 and 3, the castle is also home to Knights Quest activities, a themed walkthrough called the Dragons Quest attraction, state rooms and self-guided challenges around the castle and grounds.
Workshops are led by costumed characters and begin with an interactive session featuring activities like a demonstration of Medieval cures or the chance for pupils to be hands on with armour and weapons.
These are followed by another activity session, such as making herbal Medieval soap or making a small electric generator.
The content of each workshop takes inspiration from a historical period or character linked to either the castle or the Percy family. Staff then build upon aspects of the person or era to explore how people lived and how it compares with how people live today.
Workshops vary from the Knight’s Quest, which is suitable for any age and involves pupils dressing up as knights and ladies before trying their hands at Medieval games and crafts, to the Harry Hotspur – Life of a Medieval Knight tour experience.
The latter introduces pupils to one of the castle’s most famous sons, Harry Hotspur who was a knight, hero and king maker.
Children will join the sergeant at arms to act out Hotspur’s life, battles, blunders and victories. They will learn about how he got his name, how he trained and how he became a hero. This will then be followed by a knights training session, ending with the Grand Melee – a final group tournament.
There are also extra activities that classes can book for any workshop, such as broomstick training, Medieval games and storming the barbican.
Schools can book onto a structured day using the whole castle and can opt to take part in a self-guided ‘Knowledge Trail’ which includes a treasure hunt around the castle and state rooms. Pupils will navigate their way around the castle and its museums using their own observations and enquires to answer the various riddles.
Teachers can book a preliminary visit and will receive two complimentary tickets to do so.
For more information visit www.alnwickcastle.com.