Play like a Victorian at The Workhouse

Two young gorls on bug trail in The Workhouse garden

Pauper children inThe Workhouse had few opportunities to play although our records show that some provision was made for shuttlecocks and battledores for the girls and hopscotch and pole ropes for the boys. Today there are lots of opportunities for children and families to experience Victorian play and get invovled in a range of activities, both indoors and outdoors, during a visit toThe Workhouse this summer.

Are you a budding Byron?

Reverend Becher counted Lord Byron amongst his friends and the poet lived for a time in Southwell.  To complement the local Southwell Poetry festival 10 -16 July The Workhouse will be displaying poetic works that reflect relevant social issues to both intrigue and inspire visitors. There will be a drop-in poetry workshop on 15 July and a poetry activity for children. Visitors who feel inspired can add a line to a collective poem.

Medical matters

The popular Graft, Gruel and Good-for-Nothings living history event returns on Wednesday 26 July, this time with a medical theme. Trouble is brewing as a long-running feud with the medical officer comes to a head. Find out what happens next as well as discover how to make a bread poultice and see the paupers’ reaction to vaccination against smallpox.

Trail blazing

For the school holidays, starting on 17 July, a new Victorian activity trail will challenge younger visitors to complete a series of traditional games such as hopscotch, the game of life, sack races and much more. The grass maze on the field provides a challenge too. 

Children playing like Victorians at The Workhouse
Children with Victorian toys in Workhouse school yard
Children playing like Victorians at The Workhouse

August activities

During August there is a packed programme of activities which occur on the same days each week. Mondays see pauper inmates going about their daily duties, on Fridays visitors can join a family-focussed ‘Pauper’s yarn’ tour and hear more about life in the institution. On Saturdays, paupers will be outside in the recreated vegetable garden and can help visitors select fresh produce to purchase from amongst the selection of heritage varieties.
Wednesdays during August are 50 things themed craft days with many new activities being introduced this year. Children can have a go at making needlepoint bracelets, flower buttons, create a Victorian star chart, make a kite to fly on the field and construct homes for wildlife, different themes apply each week.

Charlie Chaplin on screen

There will be an opportunity to see one of cinema's greatest performers, Charlie Chaplin's film 'Modern Times' over the weekend of 2 and 3 September. Chaplin grew up in a London workhouse and the showing will be accompanied by a display about his workhouse years. Tickets will be available on the day at £3.50.

So, if you or your family want to try your hand at a new craft, play like a Victorian or release your inner poet then why not plan a visit to The Workhouse over the summer?