Learning about life below stairs at Beningbrough

Little girl laughing whilst dressing up in a frilly white bonnet

A day in the life of a Victorian servant - no washing machines here. A hands-on day designed around a royal visit where school children experience what life was like as a Victorian servant as they help to prepare the hall for its important guests.

Upstairs downstairs

Exploring through play the children are put to work in our Victorian laundry, washing clothes by traditional methods with tubs, washboards and dollysticks all under the watchful eye of the head laundry maid.  

Similarly, traditional methods are used by Mrs Palmer the Housekeeper as she combines her own ingredients to create a traditional cleaning paste which can be used to polish even the finest brass. In the keeping cellar the children are challenged to make the cutlery shine. There’s lots to polish before the royal dinner…the butler and the housekeeper will be checking. 

Helping with the laundry
Two little boys hanging up the laundry in costume

Children are not only given first-hand experience of how different life was in the past to how it is today but they are also encouraged to think about the contrasts between life “above” and “below” stairs.

An optional above stairs tour exploring the servant jobs in the main hall which looks closely at the contrast between the servants’ quarters and that of the luxury of the family can also be worked into the programme. 

Details at a glance:

History curriculum – local history; social history
KS1 and KS2
Whole or half day programme
Max 60 children

No mod cons here.... keeping clean is hard work
Children dressed in costume gather round to watch old fashioned washing techniques i

To talk through your workshop requirements in more detail and for booking information please contact the learning officer or call 01904 472027.

We can also coordinate your education group membership to support your school or education group’s ongoing learning. Membership not only entitles you to enjoy unlimited visits to National Trust sites for a full year; as a member, at Beningbrough you can also book to attend one of the workshops that are offered free of charge.