Mary Arden’s Farm in Warwickshire has reopened exclusively for primary schools this year, offering pupils an authentic Tudor learning experience in a safe and secure environment.
The farm, run by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, is located in Wilmcote just outside Stratford-upon-Avon and is the childhood home of Mary Arden, Shakespeare’s mother.
Now that school trips are permitted again, in line with the Government’s roadmap to easing lockdown, it has reopened as a dedicated primary education facility with new workshops bringing Shakespeare to life.
Pupils from Kineton Primary School were among the first to experience the new Tudors Alive living history education workshops at the attraction.
The children took part in a range of hands-on activities including making wattle and daub, designing individual wall hangings, churning butter by hand, playing games, gardening and learning to jig Tudor–style. They also performed extracts from Macbeth, explored the grounds and met some of the animals.
Katie Barrit, Year 5 class teacher from Kineton Primary School, said the children were left “smiling, satisfied and enthused, yet sad to leave” after the trip. She added: “The Tudors Alive workshop engaged my class from start to finish in a practical and experiential way. The creative use of the farm buildings and grounds ensured that the children were safe and able to interact fully in small groups and build a good rapport with their guide.”
Staff have introduced a one-way system and there are outdoor learning spaces for individual school groups as well as picnic areas.
Nicola Hawley, primary education manager at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, said: “It was rather special to be able to host school workshops on site once again after what has been a very difficult period. As an authentic Tudor venue, Mary Arden’s Farm brings Shakespeare’s story vividly to life and as such, it has always been an important site for the Trust’s education programme.
“While the pandemic presented an opportunity to pivot our education offer and develop new digital learning packages for schools, we’re delighted that we can now return to engaging children with Shakespeare in person and in a wonderful setting like Mary Arden’s Farm.”
For more information on what’s available for school groups, visit www.shakespeare.org.uk/education.